Welcome the opportunity to visit the “island of the sea sponge harvesters”, an internationally known alternative tourism destination. A perfect occasion to visit the island would be the International Climbing Festival in May, a unique festival that will thrill the action fans! The culinary enthusiasts should taste mouth watering delights, such as sweet smelling thyme honey, juicy tangerines, homemade mizithra cheese, delicious sea-dried lobster tail, and sea ray preserved in sea water!
Kalymnos’ claim to fame is the sponges that were farmed from its seas. Today it’s known for its large and busy capital, Pothia, and for its great beaches, stunning scenery and fascinating history. As many Kalymnians emigrated in the middle of last century, people looking for their ancestor’s home often visit it.
The island has been inhabited for over two thousand years, since pre-Minoan times. The Egyptians took over the island after Alexander the Great, and during Byzantine times, the island was one of the first to convert to Christianity. The Castle of the Knights of St John, which lays in ruins beyond Pothia is testament to this. After this, the Turks took over the island, which reverted to Italian rule in 1912. During World War II it was the site of a major battle, and finally, in 1947, the island returned to Greek rule.
With all of this varied history, this island has maintained an international appeal. From the white, bell-towered church near the port, to the Pera Kastro, beyond the castle is a charming place to discover. Horio, beyond the town provides vistas of the surrounding olive groves, beaches and other islands in the Dodecanese. There are a number of museums in town and the sponge factory to visit. A feature of Pothia is that there are few sidewalks, and those that are there are narrow, so take care when walking on the roads.
Around the island, there are a number of towns worth seeing. The resort town of Masouri has pristine beaches and is a lot quieter that Pothia. It also has boats over to the island of Telendos, an island that was part of Kalymnos until an earthquake separated it from the main isle in 554 BC. Vathy, on the east coast, is a serene hamlet, access to which is gained through cliffs that lead into a green valley.