Astypalaia has travelled through time with the same name. Small, trivial changes have portrayed her as "Astoopalia", "Astropalia", and "Stipalia".
According to Greek mythology, Astypalaia and Europe were the daughters of Finikos and Perimidis. From the union of Astypalaia and Poseidon, god of the water, the Argonaut, Agaeos was born and so was first settled by the Kares who named her "Pyra" for the red colour of her soil. Because of her many fragrant flowers and her fruit, the Ancient Greek called her "the God's Bank".
Astypalaia has gone through the Occupation of Crete, the Minoan Era and later on became Greek because of settlers who came from Megara.
During the ancient years, the island must have shown a significant climax as can be witnessed by the various findings, mainly coins which were found during excavations and from the frequent references in texts of ancient writers. The findings are on display at the Archaeological Museum which is open to the public at Pera Yalos and where the visitor can begin to understand the life of Astypalaia.
During the Hellenistic Era, it was a port (a station of Ptolemy of Egypt) and during the Roman Period, it showed a great development owed to its abundant, natural ports which resulted in starting points against the pirates. During the Byzantine Ages, the escalation of piratism brought about changes to the architectural structure and location of the houses of the island, such as the decline of the coastal dwellings and the movement of the population within the constructed walls of the castle for protection.
This era marks the construction of the Castle of Agios Ioannis, situated on the southwestern coast of Astypalaia, whose remains can be found up to today.
The Romans, who appreciated each country's food most of all, called Astypalaia "fish-bearing" because of the great amount and high quality of fish the island has.
What to See In Chora there is a small archaeological museum, a few interesting churches and a citadel. The remains of a Roman Villa is to be seen in the village Maltezana (Analipsis). Here, there is also a monument over the perished crew of the French ship Bison that sunk in 1827. In Vathy you can visit the Cave of the Dragon, Dracospilia. Near Chora is the village of Livadi which is the blossoming garden of the island.
The orchards, which are overflowing with tangerine trees and orange trees, the vineyards, which are seething with their juicy grapes, and the houses which are surrounded by numerous, multi-colored flowers, stretch throughout the ravine.
What to Do:
Swimming, snorkeling and relaxing. At Livadia beach there are jetskis and canoes for rent. The island is great for windsurfing.
The most popular beach is Maltezana, which is also the most lively. There are numerous little bays, and you can take a boat to Moura and Parou. Most beaches on the island are pebbled or rocks. Two of the most beautiful beaches of the island can be reached by the tourist boats which set off from Pera Yalos and Maltezana.
These beaches are Kaminakia, where there is a tavern which serves boiled goat (stew), an island speciality, and Vatses, where there is a cave with stalactites and stalagmites. From Livadi, a passable dirt road begins which provides a truly breathtaking view of Chora and connects Tzanakis, the cut off nudist beach, to Chora and, after passing a number of small coves and Papou beach, it ends up at the enticing, sandy beach of Agios Konstantinos.
You'll find a couple of bars and discos in Skala, Chora, Livadia and Maltezana. The nightlife is quite varied, but not too wild.
There are many taverns on the island. There are also many locals sweets. "Poungia" (cheese pie made from kopanisti cheese and honey), preserved fruits (quince, fig, bitter orange, bergamot orange), turnovers, "rantista" (lentils cooked with finely grained dough and vinegar), stuffed vine, cabbage leaves or courgette flowers, various local cheeses such as "ladotyri", "myzithra", "chlori", a type of yoghurt called "xyalina", lobster with spaghetti, octopus balls, fish, goat stuffed with rice, liver finely chopped and cooked with spices known as 'lambrianos", yellow bread rolls "kitrinokouloura" with 'chlori' cheese and saffron and pies known as 'lambropittes".
There are hotels, rooms, and apartments to rent to accommodate visitors. There is also a campsite with all the amenities set among the enchanting natural landscape of the island. It is at Marmari B.
Astypalea is the ideal place for lovers of all types of fishing since its waters are unique for the variety and quantity of fish while fans of wind-surfing can truly find what they are looking for on the island.
There is a football pitch at Marmari C, a basketball court and Public Gym. Apart from traditional forms of entertainment such as religious feasts which have been revived with great success over recent years, on the island one can find bars, clubs, summer and winter cinemas, restaurants serving local and international cuisine, cafes and traditional coffee houses.