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Despotiko –a doorway to the history of the Cyclades.

Despotiko – a doorway to the history of the Cyclades.

Greece has been attracting visitors to its archaeological wonders for thousands of years. One might be forgiven for assuming that the enthusiasm of empires, academics and our extensive knowledge of the Hellenic past would mean that there was relatively little left to discover in Greece. But, you would be wrong, and nowhere proves this more so than Despotiko.

Located west of Paros and just a stone’s throw from Antiparos, Despotiko is now an uninhabited islet, but this masks the history of the island – centuries ago it was home to a busy religious centre that attracted visitors from across the Aegean and beyond. Like the famous Delos, the island was dedicated to the God Apollo. Work by local archaeologists over the previous years has shed light on this magnificent history, we now know that the island contained twelve buildings including Doric temples and a number of the famous ‘kouros’ marble statues, vases, weapons and tools have been found.

To visit is to take a journey back in time to when Paros (and the surrounding islands including Antiparos and Despotiko) was a powerhouse in the region. Economically and militarily, it is hard for us to imagine when exploring the quiet and tranquil waters of the Cyclades that we are relaxing where chaotic sea battles, pirate attacks and huge merchant navy fleets were commonplace.

Eventually, the plan is to turn the island into an open air museum which will preserve the buildings and educate visitors. This will no doubt pique the interest of archaeological enthusiasts everywhere! Don’t get too excited though, first the site has to be protected and excavations completed so that may take some time, but if you cannot wait – it is possible to visit with an appointment by boat with a private tour from one of the island’s certified guides.

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