The Greek island of Kea belongs to the Cyclades. It owes its present name to Keo, a hero of Nafpaktos, who in ancient times conquered the island. It is the closest Island to Athens from the Cyclades complex, which makes it ideal for a weekend escape. You can reach it just in one hour with ferry from Lavrio, a port conveniently located 30 minutes away from the national airport. It is a place where you can relax, feel connected to nature and witness the wild beauty of Greece while visiting some of the better preserved archaeological sites in the Cyclades.
The relaxed atmosphere of the island is also depicted in the way of life and the architecture of its biggest cities, Korrisia which is the port, and Ioulida which is the capital. A visitor has the feeling that he has travelled back in time, escaping the stress of everyday life while having access to all needed modern facilities and services.
What is so special about Kea is the network of hiking trails that covers 36 Km and offers every visitor the chance to explore the island and its treasures in a unique way. The paths have been developed as 12 routes of cultural interest and lead visitors to all the main sites of attraction and historical importance through breathtaking views, oak forests, picturesque churches and hidden coves and beaches. Walkers feel like they are travelling to the distant and charming past since the paths are based on the ancient road-network linking the four cities-states of the island.
The island has very fertile land. You will be impressed by the rich flora, rare plants and countless cultures. The largest part of the island belongs to Natura 2000, with 700 acres where construction and development is prohibited. Many herbs, aromatic plants and beautiful flowers thrive on the island. Kea also shows remarkable fauna and hosts numerous and wild animals. Many species of rodents, reptiles and birds find the ideal retreat on the island.
The island is also famous for scuba diving, with excellent visibility, rich marine life, and wall, cavern and wreck diving. The water temperature ranges from 20° to 26°C. The highlight for recreational divers is the wreck of the unique paddle/wheeler steamship Patris which sank in 1868. World-famous is the wreck of the HMHS Britannic, sister ship of the Titanic, located 1.5 nautical mile offshore and is at a depth of about 120 m (394 ft.). Burdigala is a recently discovered wreck, 800 m (2,625 ft.) from the island’s harbor, at 53 m depth. Sunk in 1916, she was a 180m long ocean liner built in Germany.
Archaeological and architectural sights
-While in Ioulida you can admire not only traditional architecture, but also examples of neoclassical architecture such as the building that houses the Town Hall designed by the German architect Ernst Ziller, and the town hall square.
-In the northern part of the settlement is the Acropolis. From the ancient temple of Apollo and the medieval castle only some parts are left to testify the power of the territory in the past.
-After Vourkari, opposite the small port, are the remains of the prehistoric settlement of Saint Irene, which played an important role in the history of Aegean civilization. A little further is the lighthouse of St. Nicholas (1831). It is the first in the Cyclades and second in Greece.
-On the southeast coast of Kea are the remains of the ancient city of Karthaia. This city was one of the four centers of the island in ancient times. It was autonomous, with its own currency and to this day there are preserved parts of the fortifications. The excavations have uncovered temples and parts of other buildings. Access to the area is only possible by the sea or walking through the old paths.
-Between Ioulida and Poisses stands the half-dilapidated tower of Agia Marina. It is a defense tower with a height of about 20 meters, built of local stone and marble in the Hellenistic period.