Nisyros is a small island in the Dodecanese complex, between Kos and Tilos. It is a quiet place, far from the tourist current other Greek islands have, that fascinates and charms visitors with its strong colourful character, the dark brown of its volcanic earth, the white of its houses and the deep blue of its sea. Nothing disturbs the silence of the island, which gives it a mysterious charm that remains with visitors who almost always fall in love with Nisyros and cherish its memories One of the natural attractions of Nisyros island is the volcano, on its central side, near the village of Nikia, on the plateau of Lakki. It's an active volcano with a large crater into which one can descend by steps. Entering the crater, one could easily believe that one was walking on the moon, were it not for the hot sun that shines above in all its glory. The crater is layered with a hot surface (not hot enough to scold, one can easily walk on it but shoes, preferably mountain boots are most definitely required) and thick vapours, and is frequently visited by tourists from the nearby Greek islands.Nisyros also has therapeutic springs with good curative properties at Loutra, near the capital.A traditional product of Nisyros is soumada, a non-alcoholic almond-flavoured drink. The patron saint of the island is Saint Nikitas. Many Orthodox Christian churches are found on the island, as well as four monasteries which are not inhabited by monks today, although various celebrations take place in them. The largest monastery is the one of Panagia Spiliani (Blessed Virgin Mary of the cave) at Mandraki. It is built beside the medieval castle erected by the Knights Hospitaller who conquered the island in 1315.
The history of Nisyros is closely linked with the volcanic eruptions that occurred in the ancient past. The first known inhabitants of the island were Karrians but recent evidence has found relics left by people from Kos, Thessaly and Rhodes during the ancient times of Greek History. According to the Greek Mythology, Nisyros was was born by a stone that Poseidon throw to the Giant Polyvoti during the fight of Gods against the Giants.
The rock was a piece from the island of Kos and that rock created Nisyros. During the Persian wars Nisyros together with the islands of Kos and Kalymnos where under the rule of the small kingdom of Halicarnassus and her queen Artemissia one of the alliances of Xerxes in his campaign against Greece.
The history of Nissyros and its growth, because of its proximity, was linked to that of Rhodes. In modern times, the development of Nissyros is due to the investments made by ex-patriots who emigrated after the Second World War. Up until 1948 when the island unified with Greece, like all of the Dodecanese, Nisyros was an Italian colony.
Places to visit on Nisyros
Mandraki: The Old Fortress (Paleokastro) with the ruins of the ancient city lies 4 km southwest. Sections of the fortified walls dating from the 4th century BC and the gateway structure have survived. They are strongly reminiscent of similar Mycenean structures.
The ancient cemetery with finds dating from the 7th and 6th centuries BC and a grave from the 5th century BC.
Fortresses : Mandraki:
Spiliani Fortress dominates the capital and is thought to have been built by the Knights of the Order of St. John (1315). The view from this location is unique.
The ruined Venetian Fortress at the highest point in the village.
Monasteries and Churches :
The Monastery of Panaghia Spiliani. This location was the oldest centre of worship on the island. Columns and Corinthian capitals have been found here. Inside the cave are the sanctuary and the Katholikon, the monastery's central church. The monastery stands on the same hill as Spiliani Fortress. It was built around 1400 AD. The church is a basilica with a charming iconostasis from the 18th century. There is a small library with Greek books and documents. Among the relics kept are ecclesiastical vessels, crosses, gospels, portable icons and a gold dove offered by pirates.
Churches in the town include Aghios Nikitas, its patron saint, Panaghia Potamitissa, Aghios Savvas, Aghios Nikolaos, the Holy Cross (Stavrou), Panormitis and the church
jointly dedicated to Aghia Paraskevi and Aghios Athanasios.
The Evangelistria Monastery lies amid beautiful countryside 5km southeast. Note the unusual large tree outside the monastery.
Emborios: The churches of the Dormition of the Virgin (Kimiseos Theotokou) in the centre of the village and Archangel Michael in the fortress with its exceptional wall
paintings are worthy of a visit.
The Monastery of the Virgin Our Lady (Panaghia Kyra also known as Pigi Kyra) lies 7.5 km southeast amid enchanting countryside. A guesthouse operates on the feast of the Virgin.
Nikia: The churches are those dedicated to the Virgin (Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple - Eisodia Theotokou), Aghios Theologos with its ornate bell tower just outside
the village with a view of the volcano and Aghios Panteleimon in Avlaki.
Palli: The chapel of Panaghia Thermiani is built amid the ruins of Roman baths behind the Pantelidis Baths.