What to see in Ios
- Homer’s Tomb: Ios is proud to host the Tomb of the Greatest Poet, Homer. This is not just a legend but it can be proved by the ancient documents of writers such as Herodotus, Pausanias, Alkeos, Skylax, Stravon, Efstathios and Plinios. It is also known that Homer’s mother was born in Ios. The tomb is located in Plakotos area in the north side of Ios, on top of a hill. The access by car is easy and from there visitors can enjoy the view of the Aegean Sea and the surrounding islands. The Municipality of Iites is planning to build in the area of the tomb an Academy of Homer Studies which with international coverage.
- “Odysseus Elitis” theater: “Odysseus Elitis” Theater is an open-air Theater, built out of local stones and marbles and is located in Tsoukalaria area, close to Chora at the end of Anemomili area. This theater is the only place in Greece bearing the name of the famous Poet of the Aegean sea, Odysseus Elitis. It can seat 1.100 spectators and was inaugurated in 1997. It can be easily accessed either by car or on foot. The Municipality of Iites organizes here many summer concerts and theatrical performances in the frames of “OMIRIA” Culture Festival. Nevertheless, you should visit it even if there is no event. Visitors can admire the amazing view of Chora, Limani, Milopota, the surrounding islands and enjoy a beautiful sunset.
- Paleokastro: The Byzantine “Paleokastro” castle is located in the northeastern side of Ios island. It is built on top of a hill and Byzantines were using it to observe the sea routes from Constantinople to Crete. Noteworthy is also the fact that the castle was communicating with castles in Naxo, Amorgo and Santorini through visual signs (fires). The area is easily accessible and the visitors should take the car or the bus and follow the road from Chora to Psathi and reaching Paleokastro hill to follow the pathway to the top. Apart from the walls, the facilities of the castle and Panagia Paleokastritissa church, visitors can also admire the view of the Aegean sea and the surrounding islands (Naxo, Iraklia, Amorgo, Donousa).
- First Cycladic Settlement of Skarkos: In the northwestern part of Ios and on Skarkos hill the 21st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities discovered the First Cycladic Settlement which dates back to 2.800 B.C. Its findings are exhibited at the Archeological Museum of Ios and prove that ancient Ios was a socially and culturally developed community that had close commercial connections with other islands of the Cycladic complex. The houses of the settlement are two-storey separated from each other with 2 m wide roads and squares. Nowadays, the Settlement can be visited after taking the permission from the 21st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities while soon they are planning to leave the site open for everyone.
- Walls of Ios Ancient City: In the northwestern part of Chora you can see the walls of Ios Ancient City. The preserved parts prove that the Ancient City was protected by a strong peripheral wall of almost Cyclopean dimensions. The wall is easy to access.
- Archaeological Museum of Ios: The Archeological Museum of Ios is located in Chora (capital city of Ios island) housed in a room on the ground floor of the City Hall Mansion. It hosts a great collection of antiquities covering the history of Ios from the 3rd millennium B.C. up to the Roman Period. The exhibits are divided into units (depending on the theme) and are placed in separate halls. In the Museum however, dominate the findings of the First Cycladic Settlement of Skarkos. The Museum’s visiting hours are everyday (except on Monday) from 08.30 to 15.00 (Tel: 22860 91246)
- Jean Marie Dro Museum of Modern Arts: It is a privately owned Museum of Modern Arts. There are no specific work hours or days and it can be visited after requesting permission from the owner. It is accessible only on foot, through a pathway.
- The Municipality of Iites is planning to build two more Museums; Giannis Gaitis-Gavriella Simosi Museum of Modern Arts and the Folklore Museum of Ios. The construction of the two buildings has already been auctioned and the project will be starting soon. Gaiti-Simosi Museum will house works of the great artist Gianni Gaiti and his wife Gabriella Simosi. At the same time some other great Greek and foreign artists have agreed to offer some of their works. The Museum will be constructed in an area close to "Odisseas Elitis" theater and together with the renovated windmills they will become beautiful and unique cultural places. The Folklore museum will gather all wealth of Folklore of Ios in a modern, stylish and easy to visit area.
The traditional windmills of Ios are located in the northeastern side of Chora. It is characteristic is that Ios is the only island in the Cyclades complex with so many windmills gathered in one area (13 in total). Tourists can visit two renovated windmills that belong to the Municipality of Iites and one privately owned windmill. It is noteworthy that all the three windmills are fully operational. The Municipality of Iites is planning to renovate one more windmill.
Churches and chapels of Ios:
In Ios there are 365 churches and chapels. Also remarkable is the fact that only in Chora of Ios there are 26 small and large churches. Many of them are Byzantine churches and you can still visit them if you arrange it with the priests. Some of the main churches of Ios are Evaggelismos tis Theotokou (the Assumption of the Virgin Mary-Metropolitan church), Panagia Gremiotissa (on the top of the hill in Chora-with unique view), Panagia Kountoutiani, Zoodochos Pigi, Panagia - dependency of Chozoviotissa monastery in Amorgos island and Aghia Irini in Limano of unique architecture. It is also worth to visit the remarkable Aghios Ioannis monastery in Kalamos and Aghios Ioannis monastery in Pirgos.
The island cuisine includes a variety of dishes and pastries made of local products (wheat, barley, pulses, vegetables and dairy products):
- Tsimetia - Pumpkin flower stuffed with rice
- Matsi – handmade traditional Greek type of pasta
- Mermitzeli – handmade pasta (it is called "small barley weed” because of its shape)
- Sougli - small pancakes made of flour, water and olive oil
- Aranto and Tsiaride – type of sougli (small pancake)
- Mazali – typo of cream for children and old people
are some of the typical dishes.
The meat soup accompanied with pasta, chic-peas or potatoes was always part of great Christian celebrations, feasts, engagement parties and weddings.
Furthermore, tzares (clay pots with olive oil), kioupia (tuck boxes) with smocked meat or figs, cheese in salamoura (brine) and olives were the main products found in every house.
There was also a variety of local pastries and sweets. Sarpi is thickened milk offered at weddings as a dessert.
Pastelia (mixture of sesame and honey – very hard to chew) is a traditional sweet that accompanied all great Christian celebrations and weddings, engagements or christenings.
Kalasounia or kaltsounia are pies made of flaky pastry, mizithra (skim-milk cheese), honey and cinnamon.
Mosenta or watermelon pie is made of watermelon juice, flour, sugar, sesame, honey and cinnamon. The watermelon sweet is made of small pieces of watermelon rinds with honey, cinnamon and gillyflower clove.
The so called peltes was just quince juice.
After the wedding ceremony the married couple accompanied by a group of people playing music, would go to the bride's house where her mother would offer them a spoon of honey in order their life together to be "as sweet as honey". The family was also offering pastelia, avgokalamara, xerotigana, melitinia, kalasounia and tsikoudia (drink that tastes like ouzo).
The main course of wedding celebration was boiled meat accompanied with potatoes, pasta or chick-peas. Wine or tsikoudia were the main drinks offered during the celebration. At the end of the celebration they would offer sarpi - cream made of milk in which women added yeast to make it thicker.
Food and pasties were usually made in large mess pots and the two families shared all wedding expenses.
Windsurf, Water ski
In Milopota, Limani and Magganari beaches visitors can find organized water sports centers where they can rent windsurfs or do water ski. These centers offer also the opportunity to do other water sports (banana rides, tubes etc), as well as canoe and water bicycle. In Limani and Milopota beaches visitors can also rent a boat with outboard engines and visit the less approachable beaches of Ios island.
After informing local stock breeders, visitors can go to their farms and watch the procedure of stock breeding (how animals graze, milk, cheese making and dairy goods production). The same can be done with fishermen and bee-keepers of the island. (Information: Municipality of Iites, tel: 22860 91505)