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Kythera (Chora)

The island’s capital, also called “ Kythira” or “Chora” in Greek, is located in the south.  The harbor of the city of Kythera is called Kapsali and together they form one of the most picturesque places in Greece. Chora became the island’s capital during the Venetian era, when it was moved from its initial location, Paleochora (a small 13th century Byzantine citadel) for security reasons.

The castle of Chora was built in 1503 on a small existing bulwark, and the village was built in front of the castle’s only entrance.  The architecture of most buildings is typical of the Aegean Sea, but several have Venetian and English elements, a testimony to the owners’ high standing. The church towers of the myriad churches reach toward the sky and catch the eye of visitors as they behold Chora from the heights of the castle.

The city of Kythera has two main squares.  The first houses the City Hall, banks and public services and is the most lively area of the capital.  The second square is called “Estavromenos Square”, named after the island’s main Metropolitan Church, a small cathedral. This is where the French proclaimed the principles of the French Revolution in 1799, establishing democracy after abolishing feudal titles and burning the “Libro d’Oro”, the Book of Nobles.

The most breathtaking viewpoint is from a place called “Belvedere”, at the city’s easternmost point, where it starts to slope down towards Kapsali. From the “Belvedere”(meaning good or nice view in Italian) one can see Kapsali’s twin bays; because of its romantic setting this place is very popular with couples, who have been meeting here on the benches for ages.

Facing the Belvedere is the “Messa Vourgos” area, which translates as “inter-village”, located between the castle and its outer walls, as the city was starting to expand. There are several private churches here, which have been the private properties of a few families for centuries.

You will be seized with wonder as you walk around the area and through the city’s small, narrow alleyways.  The houses are built very close to each other and in some places even two-wheeled vehicles cannot get through.  Take a walk down the city’s main street to buy some traditional goods and to relax in one of the charming little bars and cafés.

“Kythera’s Historical Archive” is located in the Palace, one of the castle’s renovated premises.  Pay it a visit and make sure you insist on being told about the importance of the archives, which date back to the early 16th century.

Kythera’s capital has been declared a “protected traditional city”.

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