The first thing that comes to mind when one talks about Kalymnos is the
sponges. The island has been known for these for about 500 years
now, and is a must when it comes to buying souvenirs. Every spring,
the fishermen leave the island after festivities, and after five
months they return, which again is a reason for great celebrations.
The sponges today are taken from the coast of North Africa.
The island itself is a popular holiday resort, and even though island with mostly pebble beaches, people often choose to return summer after summer. There are lots of things to do, you have many facilities and the settings are beautiful in a dramatic, mountainous way.
People here live off fishing and selling sponges, tourism and some farming: fruits, olives and vegetables are grown in the valleys. There are also beekeepers here and Kalymnos honey is known in all of Greece. The people of Kalymnos have a different and strong dialect from the other inhabitants of the Dodecanese some they say that it is due to their Doric roots.
Mythology has it that Kalymnos got its name from the
Titan Kalydnos, who was the son of
Gaea ("Earth") and
("Heaven"). Supposedly, you can see his legs from above: the two
plains by the mountains.
The first inhabitants probably came in the beginning of the 2nd Millennium BC. They were probably Carians. Kalymnos participated in the Trojan war. The Achaeans made a settlement here after the Trojan War.
What followed is the common history for almost all the Aegean islands: In the 5th century it belonged to the Athenian League against the Persians, then the Macedonians, and in the 2nd century BC the Romans came. In 535 AD happened an earthquake that separated Kalymnos and Telendos.
During Byzantine years the island suffered many pirate attacks. In the 13th century the Venetians took over, and in 1306 it belonged to the Knights of Rhodes, who taxed the island very heavily.
The Turks ruled from the 16th century (when the sponge fishing started) until 1912. The island then fell under Italian rule, and in 1943 Kalymnos was occupied by the Germans for two years until it finally was given back to Greece like the rest of the Dodecanese in 1948.
What to see
In the island's capital Pothia (Kalymnos) you'll find a nice museum
about the island. There is also a beautiful church here dedicated to
Christ. There is also a nunnery, Ag Savas, which is open to the public
and is well worth a visit. Don't forget to wear a long skirt and to
cover your shoulders if you are a woman, and to wear long trousers if
you are a man. There are also several sponge factories you can visit.
Chorio is the old capital, and here you can visit the castle of Golden Hand (Kasto Chrysocheiras) where the Knights of St. John resided. There is also a citadel from the 9th cent. AD, Pera Kastro, and the remains of a church from the 5th century: "Jesus of Jerusalem". Over the hill to the east of the port a huge cross dominates over the town of Pothia. The tourist resorts of Kalymnos are Vathy to the east hide within a deep cove and almost invisible if you are passing with the boat . Vathy is the most green area of Kalymnos, it is only a few years ago, before the tourism development, that Vathy was a small village of farmers and fishermen.
Masouri located next to Myrties in the north west of Kalymnos. It is the most developed holiday resort of Kalymnos with quite a few hotels and other accommodations. Myrties located at the north part of the island very close to the small island of Telendos that use to be thousands of years before connected with the rest of the island. From Myrties there is a boat that daily goes to Leros at 13.00 at the small southernmost port of Leros Xirokampos.
There have been some plans about connecting Kalymnos with Leros with a bridge at the most narrow straights of the two islands in the north. That can be not as difficult as it looks because there are some small islands in the straights the Glaronisia and Leriko nisi who can be used as connections to that bridge.
The small island of Telentos is a few minutes away by boat from Myrties, there are some nice taverns and is worth visiting.
Another remote village of Kalymnos is Agios Petros to the north east of the island. The small village has only a few inhabitants and a small tavern. Very resent there has been a road that connects Agios Petros with Kalymnos capital Pothia. The village has a small beach and is an ideal place for fishing and diving.
Pserimos is a small island between Kalymnos and Kos, there are some nice beaches and taverns on that small island. There are daily excurtions to Pserimos from Pothia and is a good idea for a day trip.
What to do
:There are watersports
on the island, and the snorkelling is a must for fans. You should
definitely go on an excursion to Telendos and Pserimos as well. It is a
small island, sometimes called the Sleeping Princess, and was part of
Kalymnos until a volcano eruption separated the two islands in AD 535.
You should also try the hot baths at Therma which are said to be
healing. For those that love climbing Kalymnos in an effort to boost its
tourism the last years has become a popular destination for climbers
from all over the world. The island is ideal for that sport because is
mountainous and has many caves. In Sykati to the north facing Leros is
one of the most popular caves that is used for climbing. The cave a few
decades back was a place where shepherds had their goats and ship there.
In Kalymnos you will find also excursion boats that offer daytrips to Kos, Leros and Turkey.
If you're here on July 27, the island's saint, Agios Pandeleimon, is celebrated with a great feast.
:The only sandy beaches on Kalymnos are on the west coast: Elies
and Kantouni. Myrties and Masouri are popular beaches, and
you'll also find nice pebble beaches at Arginontas and Agios
Petros. Paradise beach is for nudists.The island has develope a
good road infrastructure so it is easy to access all the beaches
of the island by car or motorbike.
:The nightlife on Kalymnos is quite good and varied. Most bars, restaurants and cafeterias are in Pothia, Myrties and Masouri. There are many restaurants along the promenade of the port in Kalymnos. Taverns with local specialities you will find as well in Horio.
:There are many, taverns and cafes on the island. Mirmizeli and Mytzithra are local specialties worth a try! In the bakeries of Kalymnos you will find many sweets like Baklavas and Galaktoboureko. Try the local rasks "Paximadia" . Fresh fish you will find in all taverns and restaurants. Try the grilled octopus and variouw sea fruits like urchines, pinnes (large oysters), achivades (oysters) and fouskes that have been caught by local divers. All those tasty delicacies of the sea are the best meze for ouzo.
There are several shops on the island where you can get a famous Kalymnos sponge. You should also get a jar of the local honey.
: The local buses connect Pothia with some of the beaches, as well as the villages Myrties, Masouri, Vathy and Emporio. There are also taxis and vehicles for rent.
The local airport new and modern.There are daily flights to and from Athens. Kalymnos is also connected with ferries with Pireus, as well as the islands Rhodes, Patmos, Samos, Lipsi, Leros and Crete.There are also Catamarans and hydrofoils that connects Kalymnos with other Dodecanese islands. Small ferries have frequent connections with Kos (Mastihari) therefore if you coming by charter flight you can fly to Kos and get to Kalymnos within an hour. the small sea line ANEK is based on Kalymnos and the small ferry KALYMNOS connects daily Kalymnos with Leros, Lipsi, Samos and Agathonisi.
Facts about Kalymnos
KalymnosSize: 111 sq. km
International code: 0030
Population: about 15000
Local code: 22430
Cash machine: Yes
Port Police: 29304
Price rate: Average
Tour Operators:Apollo, Ving