Antiparos (ancient name: Oliaros) is a small inhabited island in the southern Aegean, at the heart of the Cyclades, which is less than one nautical mile (1.9 km) from Paros, the port to which it is connected with a local ferry. Saliagos island is the most ancient settlement in the Cyclades, and Despotiko, an uninhabited island in the southwest of Antiparos, is a place of great archaeological importance.
The Community of Antiparos was founded in 1914 and was promoted to a municipality in 2010 with the implementation of the Law "Kallikrates", under the principle of "each island a municipality". It occupies an area of 45.2 square km, including the island of Antiparos and Despotiko. It has, according to the 2011 census, 1,211 permanent residents and a density of 27 inhabitants per km². The island's economy is based on tourism, fishing, farming and less on agriculture in the plains. It is known for its distinctive Cycladic beauty with white houses, cobbled streets and beautiful flowers that thrive in the yards of the houses. It is a popular tourist resort in the summer for Greeks and European visitors, as well as land investors from the U.S.A. The main settlement lies at the northeastern tip of the island, opposite Pounda on the main island of Paros, whence a ferry sails for Antiparos harbour. The historical center is located in the Venetian castle of Antiparos, which is connected through the shopping streets in the picturesque coastal street. Other settlements are the famous resort of St. George in the southwest edge, Soros and Kampos and popular beaches in the wider area of the center are Psaralyki, the Sifneiko, Ag Spiridon and the camping beach. The most popular beaches are: Soros, Glyfa, Apantima, Monastiria.
The island of Antiparos is located 0.8 nautical mi (1.5 km) southwest of Paros, separated by the Strait of Antiparos, known as Amfigeio. It lies 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometres) from the port of Parikia from which the passenger ferry runs. The maximum length of the island is 7 miles (11.3 kilometres) from north to south, while the maximum width reaches 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometres). The total area is estimated at 37 to 38 km (23 to 24 mi). And the highest peak, St. Elias, in the middle of the island, is at 308 m. The main town is called simply Antiparos. Antiparos is a volcanic rock and dry climate with high moisture, and morphology favors the development of strong winds. The flowers thrive in the region are mainly bougainvillea that adorn the gardens, houses and shops. The morphology of Antiparos is characterised essentially flat, with many small hilly peaks, while the vegetation of the island is low. The island of Antiparos is surrounded by many small uninhabited islands with great historical and archaeological interest, such as Tsimintiri the Round, the Double, snow, Revmatonisi, the Red and Black Tourlos. Particularly well known in the international community is Despotiko, an uninhabited island west of Antiparos, where in recent years excavations of great archaeological importance have been carried out.
In the center of the island is the famous cave of Antiparos, one of the most beautiful and mysterious caves in the world. The cave has been used as a natural shelter from the Neolithic period onwards. The area was also used for pottery, and for the worship of the goddess Artemis, while at the entrance to the site is the plain but magnificent church of Agios Ioannis Spiliotis.
The Antiparos cavern
Signs and scratches on the stalactites and stalagmites attest to the passers, as the inscription on the altar of the generals of Alexander the Great and King Otto.
The cave of Antiparos
The cave is very extensive, and on several levels. The lyric poet Archilochus of Paros is said to have left an inscription in the cave. In 1673 the French archaeologist Marquis de Nointal, French ambassador in Istanbul lived in the cave for three days with numerous companions and celebrated mass on Christmas Day in the cave. Later visitors who carved their names included Byron and the first king of Greece, Otto. During the German occupation, part of the cave was destroyed. The cave is fully exploited in the second half of the 2000s with funds from the EU by erecting barriers, building adequate steps, installing lighting, security cameras and loudspeakers to inform visitors.
Castle (Kastro) of Antiparos
the castle tower
The Venetian Castle of Antiparos is a typical example of the fortified settlements established in the Cyclades the period of Latin in 13th-16th century. Its construction dates to the mid-15th century when the Venetian Giovanni Loredano decided to marry Mary Sommaripa of Antiparos.
The original version had a ‘motte’ (mound) at the centre and houses round the perimeter. The houses were built as one continuous block construction, the outer walls providing both the defensive wall of the fortified settlement. The only entrance was at the south wing. Inside the main settlement the houses developed as three-storey structures, each having a separate entrance which lead to external staircase. In the course of the settlement was extended outside the south wing to form a rectangular ring called "Xopyrga" and within the original enclosure around the base of the circular tower.
Castle house blocks and the church of Christ
In modern times, the original architectural style of the castle has altered, with the church of Christ being inserted as a religious element, while the central mound was used as a water tank tower. Today, the homes retain a satisfactory level of their original features, despite the collapse of the upper floors, and any intervention required permission from the archaeological department. Today most homes are developed in one with two floors and have a maximum ground-like trapdoor. Many now face outwards and have become shops facing onto the main street. An integral part of the castle of Antiparos are the small bats that come with dusk and iptantai around the tower to the east.