What to see in Ikaria
A walk around the city will bring you close to the main sights. Do not forget to visit:
The port where the monument of Icarus (his wings) is situated. It is an artwork by the local artist Nikos Ikaris.
The hill, with neoclassical building housing the police station and the port authority.
The coastal road with traditional coffeehouses and restaurants.
The Archaeological Collection with findings from various areas of the island, dating back from the Neolithic period till Roman years.
Aghios Kirikos Metropolis and Aghios Nikolaos church which was built by the village sailors.
Ikari rock (or Nikari) near the southern coasts. According to the tradition, this is the point where Ikaros lost his life.
Aghios Dimitrios church in Katafigi (8 km NE). There is a hatch underneath the sanctum, which according to tradition was used by the island inhabitants to escape from pirates.
CASTLE OF KOSKINA
The Castle of Koskina is an 11th century A.D. Byzantine fortress located on a mountain peak overlooking the village of Kosikia in the center of Ikaria, 30km from Evdilos. Inside the castle is the church of St. George Dorganas. Access to Koskina Castle is via an unpaved road near Kosikia which branches off from the central mountain pass connecting Evdilos to Agios Kirikos.
One of the best preserved examples of Athenian military watchtowers from the Hellenistic period, Drakano Fortress and its fortifications were built during the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. This 44 foot high limestone tower served as an observation point for Aegean Sea traffic sailing the channel between Ikaria and Samos. The tower was part of a larger garrison and eventual Ikarian city that was noted for its wine production. In 1827 the tower was damaged by Greek naval forces who used it for target practice. Near the tower stands the solitary Church of St. Georgis, and below the church is the remote sandy beach of St. Georgis. Access to Drakano is via a dirt road leading from the seaside village of Faros. The road ends where a footpath begins, and visitors must then hike about 15 minutes north to the fortress area.
BYZANTINE ODEON OF ANCIENT OENOE
The Byzantine Odeon is located at the village of Kampos in the northern part of the island. It is on the ancient site of "Oenoe", known to be one of the most fertile places on the island and wealthy ancient capital of Ikaria. Oenoe was a prosperous city known throughout the ancient world for its viticulture.
The Byzantine or Roman Odeon, literally translating into “small theatre” was built in the 1st Century A.D. The remnants show that the Odeon has the same construction plan as the Roman theatres and is divided into three main sections including the scene, the orchestra and the cavea. It served as a meeting place where the noblemen of Oenoe could gather and enjoy musical and theatrical events.
Apart from theatrical events, the Odeon is also thought to have been used for auditions reserved to magistrates, as well as important civil, military and religious people and their families.
ROMAN BATHS AT ANCIENT THERMA
Built during the Hellenistic Period, the ruined walls of Roman baths situated at ancient Therma are all that remain of the once prosperous Ikarian city that thrived as a result of the visitors who came to bath in its therapeutic hot mineral springs. Ancient Therma ceased to exist after a devastating earthquake hit the city circa 205 BC. Via snorkeling one can still see the underwater remains of the city where it slid into the sea just offshore from the Roman baths. Access to the site is via a footpath marked with green leading from the back of the Agriolycos Pension in Therma. There is a cave on this path that was used as a hiding spot by Ikarians in past times of danger. Walking further along the path brings one to a place on the coast where the hot mineral water flows into the sea, affording the opportunity to bath in it. All in all a worthwhile excursion.
TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS AT NAS - "TAVROPOLIO"
The sixth century BC temple of Artemis at Nas was built by the Ikarians to honor the mother goddess Artemis, patroness of sailors and protector of hunters and wild animals. Nas was probably the first settled area of Ikaria and throughout antiquity its safe anchorage was an important staging point for sea traffic sailing to Asia Minor. Around 1830 local Ikarian villagers melted down most of the temple's stone blocks in order to build a church. Legend has it that the ancient temple's statue of Artemis is buried somewhere in the river. Snorkelling just off the coast one can see the massive columns of the temple. The pier of the ancient port and the floor of the sanctuary still survive as does the beautiful setting of Nas Beach.
Tavropolio was the shrine of Artemis who among other names was also called Tavropolos, goddess of the bull or Tavrovolos. The temple of Tavropolio must have been a late Minoan structure as the goddess was worshipped in the late Minoan period. The "Xsoanan" a carved wooden cult image of the goddess which is said to have been discovered by favor of the heavens proves that the shrine was one of the most ancient temples dedicated to the goddess Artemis.
Ikaria was one of the first stops of Artemis from Asia Minor and Tavropolio a shrine celebrated throughout Greece. Tavropolio prospered in the years when worship of the goddess was at its peak in the era of Attic civilization. According to the historian Ioannis Melas, Tavropolio was probably not only the temple of the goddess Artemis but also a settlement, one of the four ancient settlements on Ikaria, but no evidence has come to light to prove it. Today at the place of worship where magnificent religious rights were once performed, only ruins survive, parts of the floor and columns of the ancient temple. The whole area is studded with remnants of worn awat marbles. The remains of an old lime kiln reveal that in the early 19 Century the structures of Tavropolio were melted down to obtain building materials for the erection of churches.