Other Islands of the Dodecanese.


Map of Nissyros.
Map of Nissyros.

Mythology & History

According to the Greek myths, Nissyros was formed as follows. During the Battle of the Gods and Giants, Poseidon, god of the sea, had undertaken the task of eliminating the giant Polyvotis; after defeating him, he pursued the beaten giant as he fled in terror across the Aegean in search of a place to hide. Near Kos, Poseidon caught up with Polyvotis, with his trident, he broke off a piece of Kos (near Cape Chelone or Krikelos) and hurled it at the giant. This flying piece of land pinned Polyvotis down, trapped beneath Nissyros as he is, Polyvotis sometimes sighs and groans, and this explains the natural phenomenon of the volcano.

Given that Poseidon was responsible for creating Nissyros, it was only natural that he should continue to be its protector. For that reason, there were numerous temples to Poseidon on the island, and its coins often showed the head of the god of the sea.

Another element in the myth is the close bond between Nissyros and Kos - a bond which is still strong even today, and covers the administrative, cultural, social and economic spheres. As we know from numerous inscriptions, there were many Koans on Nissyros, whilst on Kos itself there was a colony of Nissyrians under the name Nissyriadae. The two islands shared a monarch, engaged in military campaigns together, had the same system of gouvernment and were members of the same confederations.

The cultural environment od Nissyros, as expressed in the monuments of prehistory and of the Classical, Byzantine and modern periods, is of particular interest for the tourist trade; such cultural elements are natural attractions for visitors. The earliest monuments on Nissyros date back to the prehistoric period. The acropolis of the ancient city, Palaiokastro, dates from the Classical period and has survived in good condition.

Nissyros also has a wealth of Byzantine monuments, with many Early Christian churches and chapels scattered all over the island. Many have wall-paintings of the greatest interest for historians and visitors. Thes chapels can be approached along attractive cobbled paths.


The Island Nissyros:

Nissyros lies between Kos and Tilos. It is covered in a thick coat of vegetation and its subsoil is rich in minerals. The island's most spectacular feature is the crater of its dormant vulcano, and there are also medicinal baths. Nissyros has an area of 41,5 km² and its coastline is 28,2 km in length. It is 225 nautical miles from Piraeus, 25 nautical miles from Kos, and 45 nautical miles from Rhodes.
The area of Nissyros also includes the islets of Yali (the largest at 5 km²), Agios Antonios, Strongili, Pacheia, Pergousa and Kandelousa (Faros).
The island is conical in shape and is mostly mountainous, consisting of volcanic rock formations and outcrops of stone produced by the periodic action of the volcano.
The volcano formed the Lakkio valley, the craters and the island's mountains: Profitis Ilias 698 m, Agios Ioannis 588m and Agios Georgios with 519 metres.
The geological and tectonic structure of Nissyros has led to the formation of underground springs of hot water which are used for medicinal purposes. The geomorphologie of the area and the volcanic nature of the rock formations have also led to the presence of minerals such as perlite, caoline and sulphur compounds and, above all, of pumice stone, which is today the only deposit to be commercially worked.
Among the features of the natural environment of Nissyros are its fauna and flora, which specialists have pronounced to be unique.
In antiquity, Nissyros was famous for its mill-stones; indeed, they were often known as the "stones of Nissyros".
The geomorphological feature most caracteristic of the island is its volcano, which today is the main reason why most visitors come to the island. The volcano is unique of its kind in Greece, and aside from its scientific interest, is of the greatest beauty. As a result, it is tourist attraction of the first magnitude.
After millions of years of activity, the volcano is now extinct.
Nissyros now, has a population of 932 people.

The Villages & other Places:

The port and chief town of Nissyros, at the north-west extremity of the island, has whitewashed houses standing along pretty alleys beneath the castle and the Monastery of Our Lady "Spilliani" (1600) patron saint of the island, which is the area's most prominent feature. The Historical & Archaeological Museum the Folklore Museum (most of all closed) are located on the way up to the monastery. Above Mandraki, and beyond the monastery, a path leads to the spot called Palaiokastro, where there are "Cyclopean" walls: this was the acropolis of Nissyros in antiquity.

To the east of Mandraki, a long sandy beach which is ideal for bathing.

To the west of Mandraki, a beach with black pebbles.

1,5 km to the east of Mandraki: there are medicinal springs, housed in two buildings, one of them disused and the other operational.

The Volcano:
The most striking feature of Nissyros is its volcano, now dormant but not extinct. Its huge crater called Stefanos, is 300 metres in Diameter and 27 metres deep. According to the ancient myths, Nissyros and Kos were once a single island, but Poseidon split them apart when he was pursuing the giant Polyvotis - to whom the formation of the volcono was attributed.
The volcanic mountain was once 1.400 metres high, but a violent eruption in 1552 created the plateau Lakki. There were further eruptions - on a smaller scale - in 1871, 1873, 1888 and 1933. In fact there are five craters, with a path leading down to the largest of them. This makes it possible to feel the soft ground beneath one's feet, to see the multicoloured fumes and hear them whistling as they escape, and to sniff the powerful smell of sulphur.

Monastery of the Cross:
40 minutes' walk from the volcano, 80 minutes on foot from Mandraki.

8 km south-east of Mandraki is this quiet village, smothered in greenery, with just a few inhabitants. From the village, a cobbled mule-path leads down to Pali.

Monastery of Our Lady "Kyra":
At an altitude of 450 metres, on the way from Emborios to Nikia, with a superb view along the east side of the island.

An old-style village very close to the volcano, with white-washed houses surrounded by pretty gardens. The end of the bus-route is in Nikolaou Chartofili Square, where the main street of the village begins; it runs through a square which has been attractively paved in pebbles, and is the start of the steep path to the volcano. It takes about 40 minutes to cross the volcano on foot.

Monastery of St. John the Divine:
Close to Nikia and the volcano.

Pali (or Paloi):
A picturesque fishing village, Pali is one of the main settlements in Nissyros. It is located to the northeast of Mandraki, the capital.

Pali is said to have been built on the ruins of an ancient city where remnants connected to Therapeutic Baths and Roman and Early Christian period were found.

There are mooring facilities available here. The Village has good accommodation facilities and some good taverns are also found.

There you will find an excellent beach ideal to have a swim and then enjoying snacks and drinks from the local taverns and bars on the shore. The beautiful cove of Lies is located 5km to the southeast of Pali and from there by walk you will reach Pahia Ammos having wonderful sand dunes. The White Beach named after the color of its sand is between Pali and Mandraki.

Text from Davaris Publications. - Greek Islands: DODECANESE.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Back to the Top of the page!

Take me back to the previous page!


This page looks best when viewed in the latest version of the
Internet explorer browser!
Nostalgia Travel ™ / Other Islands / Nissyros.