Ikaria’s Ecotourism – Springs and Watermills
Ikaria, due to its special geomorphology and changing landscape, is an ideal destination for ecotourism. The island is divided on its southern and northern sides by a narrow mountain mass, the Atheras mountain range, known also as Pramnos in antiquity (hence the Pramnian wine, mentioned by Homer), Atheras extends along its entire length, with its highest peak being 1,040 m. The rocky ground of Ikaria is steep and barren to the south, while to the north it is smooth and wooded, with ample running water.
There are caves with flowstones in the island, the biggest of which (Raos tou Foutra) is located in Petropouli at Messaria, in central Ikaria. At the same area, between Messaria and Perameria, there is also a great natural monument, the “Forest of Ranti” with ancient trees. The Ranti Forest was declared a “Preservable Natural Monument ” in 2014 by the Regional Authority of North Aegean.
The large number of water mills in Ikaria, testify to the many water sources and springs of the island. In the ravines there are cisterns and gardens, where at night appear the “kalomoires”, the ancient nereids or water fairies. as they are called today. If you come across them, you may lose your voice from their beauty.
Ikaria’s Cultural and Religious Tourism
Having experienced times of great prosperity both during antiquity and during Byzantine times, with its 3 ancient cities, Thermae, in today’s Therma, Drakanon, in today’s Fanari or Faro, Oinoi (also known as Byzantine Dolihi), in today’s Kampos, and the ancient temple Tauropolion, dedicated to the Goddess Artemis Tauropolos, in today’s Nas bay, Ikaria island is of great historical, archaeological and cultural interest.
The surviving remains of those distant times, combined with the local customs and traditions, which are zealously passed down from generation to generation, bear witness to the centuries-old history and culture of the island. Don’t miss the chance to visit, amongst others, the sites of the ancient round Tower and the ruins of the ancient Acropolis at Drakano, the ruins of the famous ancient Temple of Artemis at Na, the castle of Koskina (the great castle of Nikaria, a Byzantine-era fortress of the 10th century, near the village of Kosoikia), the ruins of the Odeon and the church of Aghia Eirini, from the Byzantine Dolichi in Kambos, the ruins of the Ancient Loutropolis in Therma.
It is worth, also, visiting the Archaeological Museum, as well as the Folklore and Historical Museum, in Agios Kyrikos, that have both been recently established with very interesting exhibits, and offer the visitor an exciting journey into the history and culture of Ikaria.
Finally, the surviving six monasteries, with the main ones being the Monastery of Panagia in Lefkada, the Monastery of Theoktistis in Pigi and the Monastery of Mounde in Raches, the over 300 churches, one of which is early Christian, and the chapels, which are scattered on the island, show the developed religious feeling of the inhabitants, making Ikaria an interesting destination for religious tourism too.