Valsamitis – Stayros – Markiani – Kastri – Triada
Agios Georgios Valsamitis
This is where you will arrive if you head towards the southern end of the island, known as Kato Meria. Just 4 kilometers from the Chora, on the right, you will see the sign leading to one of the dependencies of Hozoviotissa Monastery, dedicated to Saint George.
Descending the rural road, you will find yourselves in a small but dense copse of trees and green vegetation. There used to be running water here, and you can see Katapola port in the background; in fact, you can walk there if you follow footpath number 6, starting at the church. The ruined watermill here testifies to the existence of water sources in olden times.
As of today, you can still see tiny streams all around the dependency. These converge in the cistern built for this purpose, which collects enough water to serve the small vegetable gardens cultivated nearby.
The origin of the name Valsamitis is an interesting one. The church is named after an aromatic, pharmaceutical herb with great antiseptic action, locally called “Varsamos”.
The church contains frescoes from the 17th century and archways between the aisles. The oracle of Apollo, which operated within the temple during ancient and early Christian years, and was known as “Agiasma Valsamiti”, was linked to local religious tradition.
A single nun lives there today, and a church service is held in the chapel every Saturday. On the Tuesday after Easter each year, the icons of the Virgin Mary are brought to the church from Hozoviotissa Monastery and then carried down the footpath to Katapola.
Stavros – Markiani
After Agios Georgios Valsamitis and just before you reach the first villages of Kato Meria, you will find yourselves in Stavros. The area gets its name from a cluster of churches linked to each other by archways.
The cluster also marks the border between Arkesini and the city of Minoa, mentioned earlier. The existence of early Cycladic tombs in this area indicates how long it has been inhabited.
Shortly after Stavros, you will come to a sign indicating another point of archaeological interest: Markiani. This is perhaps the first Early Cycladic acropolis of Amorgos, surrounded by fortifications!
In Vroutsi village, if you take the road leading to the sea, you will come across the small church of Agios Ioannis with its blue dome.
The next stop is the hill on which the Acropolis of Arkesini, or Kastri, is built. Ruins of the fortress are visible at the top of the hill, and the road starts to descend from there.
The ancient walls are clearly visible from Kastri, which a hundred stone steps lead you to the eponymous chapel. The view from the top is well worth the climb!
The whitewashed presence of Panagia Kastriani emerges enticingly among the ruins of the Acropolis.
It is celebrated on September 8th each year. There was an ancient aqueduct and Roman reservoir in the Acropolis, and the walls date from the 4th century BC. There is a fortified tower to the north, and ancient tombs have been excavated on the eastern side.
The Acropolis was named “Aspis” and was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite.
Agia Triada Tower
Take the main road from Vroutsi village towards Arkesini, to find the ruins of Agia Triada tower, built using massive stones, after just under a kilometer.
It was built in the 4th century BC in order to protect Ancient Arkesini (Kastri). In fact, it had skylights and even a plumbing and drainage system! Agia Triada church is built next to it.