Greek Guide

 

Tilos Island Greece Greek Holiday Destinations

Tilos is one of the Greek Dodecanese Islands located in the Aegean Sea 65 kilometres west of Rhodes. It's one of the least visited and most unspoilt islands in the archipelago but has much to offer the discerning tourist who hankers after a taste of the "real Greece ". This is a walkers' and bird watchers' paradise. The island is a resting place for many different species of migratory birds and if you roam its hillsides you'll find crusader castles, medieval monasteries and valleys awash with cypress, oak, walnut and almond trees. There are some lovely uncrowded beaches some of which have red lava sand a legacy of the volcanic eruptions that have repeatedly reshaped the nearby island of Nisyros over the last 24,000 years.

With a population of just 500 and a surface area of 63 square kilometres this tiny island is too small to merit its own airport. The ferry ride from the mainland port of Piraeus is a gruelling 22 hours. The island of Rhodes, which has an international airport several European destinations, is a more manageable one hour journey by hydrofoil. Tilos also has ferry, hydrofoil and catamaran links with several other Dodecanese islands including Nisyros, Kos and Symi.

If you arrive here from Rhodes you'll find yourself a million miles away from the Dodecanese capital with its frantic seaside resort of Faliraki where drunken package holidaymakers party round the clock. This is a place to relax and unwind, while away the hours in a traditional taverna and explore the countryside of an island as yet unscathed by the ravages of mass tourism.

Take the time to delve into the island's rich past because today's sleepy Tilos is the product of a turbulent history. The seven small castles on the island were built as outposts of the Knights of St John who held sway here from 1309 until 1522 when Tilos fell to the Turks. The island was under Turkish domination until 1912 when it was ceded to the Italians. It was only in 1948 that the island finally became part of a united Greece.

Visit the Palaeontological Museum in the capital Megalo Chorio and you'll be able to see the fossilised bones of midget elephants which became extinct around 4,600 BC. The bones were found in a cave on the island in 1971.

At Agios Antonios Beach to the west of Megalo Chorio you can see the petrified remains of human skeletons, thought to be those of sailors caught in the Nisyros eruption of 600 BC.

One of the island's most famous daughters was the poet Erinna, a friend and contemporary of the better known Greek poet Sappho. Erinna was born on the island in the 7th century BC her work was widely regarded as being equal to that of Homer, one of the greatest writers of ancient Greece.