I dock at the tiny port of Katapola, the only other tourists are speaking French.
The harbour has a cluster of simple and tiny guesthouses, reminding me of how life in the Greek islands used to be. It’s situated on an attractive horseshoe bay, really a collection of three separate villages – Katapola proper on the south side, on the north shore, and Rahidhi in the middle.
Behind, the mountains rise up into one long ridge reaching 800m at its highest point and they’re covered in a network of well-signed trails. The landscape is the star here, rather than the beaches, and the best way of discovering the delights of the island is on foot. Even better you can truly appreciate the magnificent settings of the ancient cities.
The bus climbs upwards to the centre of the island. Surrounded by rocky hills topped with decapitated windmills, the island’s capital was built as protection.
The ruined 13th century perches precariously on an upright plug, wrapped with a chapel or two. It’s surrounded by low white houses, linked by a labyrinth of narrow lanes, sprouting purple bougainvillaea.
From here I take a path downwards towards the sea and then start to climb 350 steps to the 11th century Moni Hozoviotissis monastery. The dazzling white sheer structure is embedded into the cliff face and eight floors, connected by narrow stone staircases, are carved into the rock.
Only a couple of monks occupy the fifty rooms now but they still offer traditional hospitality. Every guest is treated to a sugary lump of loukoúmi, a warming shot of raki, with honey and spices, and a cool glass of water.
Suitably fortified, I follow a well-signed trail northeast along the high of the island. This is a barren treeless landscape but in the distance, I can make out tiny white villages. I soon drop down to Aegiali,
Amorgos’ second port, even sleepier than Katapola. Resisting the temptation to rest on the town’s sweep of sand, I take a circular trail upwards through the lovely villages of Langada and Tholaria. After another three hours, I’m back at the shore and take a well- earned dip.
The next day I set out in the opposite direction and climb out of Katapola on the steep road to reach the ancient city of Minoa in about 40 minutes. Like most things on the island, it’s very low key, with no information on display, but the setting is spectacular. I see fragments of wall, the foundations of an Apollo temple, and trays upon trays of unsorted pottery shards.
The track follows the coastline south-west, descending almost to sea level before climbing up through abandoned terraces to reach of Ancient Arkesini. It’s in a commanding situation, perched precariously on the clifftops, surrounded by water on three sides. It dates from the 9th century but was later abandoned.
Tower of Agia Triada
A short distance inland is the Tower of Agia Triada, built in the 4th century to give citizens safe. It’s one of the largest and best-preserved towers of the Cyclades, quite spectacular in size. This rectangular fortress, built of local limestone, is a characteristic example of Hellenistic architecture and stands out in the landscape.