The Cyclades. This beautiful group of Greek islands scattered in the Aegean Sea dance in a circle around the sacred island of Delos. Delos proudly stands in the heart of the Cyclades, acting as a holy sanctuary during the Greek Antiquity. Other islands of the Cyclades forged their own identity over the centuries. I recently visited some of them located in far south, close to Creta.
The boat drops me on the shore, facing a dramatic landscape made of rocky coastline and steep cliffs. Hard to reach and to live in, the barren island is a gemstone emerging somewhere from the Aegean Sea. Far above me, a white line of buildings indicate my destination of today – the main village of the island.
The hacked sound of Greek traditional music reaches me during my trek, shipped by the strong wind. Maybe a piece of sirtaki or any other energetic Greek music calling joyfully for festive dancing. Downhill, a shepherd in front of his house taking care of his herd. He vanishes during my approach. Never mind, he already introduced me to the soul of the island and to its rugged beauty.
Pursuing my ascent, I stop often to contemplate the outstanding scenery. The tormented landscape was beautifully carved by the wind and the sea and adorned by man-made stone walls for traditional herding and farming.
The gemstone island is small but sparsely populated. It hosts some 700 inhabitants in summer, and only about 300 in winter, regrouped in three small villages. I spent a few days in the main settlement, tuning as much as possible with its scape and social life.
The village is a gem. A stunning location topping the ridge over the Aegean Sea. A small size but a large capital of seduction to any visitor. An intimate and charming architecture. A myriad of cats which befriend with you at the first glance. A social fabric producing spontaneously positive emotions in a relaxed atmosphere; there is time, time to greet, time to chat, time to laugh, time to enjoy.
Don’t take me wrong. The place is not dormant nor nostalgic of its heroic past. It is moving and morphing, balancing its concern to remain authentic and its wish to develop. Quite a number of new buildings have emerged from the rugged stoned soil in recent years. Visitors have increased too, modestly though. I counted four of them during my November stay.
In order to keep this island as a gem, the Greek gods residing in the Cyclades instructed me not to disclose here its name and exact location. They expect you to design and enjoy your own journey into the Cyclades.