Astypalaia (Kos) 1 Kefalos - Αστυπάλαια

Ἀστυπάλαια - Astypalaia, Archaic to Late Antique polis near Kefalos in Kos Dodecanese

Modern description McGilchrist's Greek Islands

One kilometre south of Képhalos on the road which heads towards the mountains, and c. 50m to the east of the road, can be seen the profile of the remarkable little church of the Panaghia Palatianí, on an eminence with views of the Bay of Képhalos below. This roofless and collapsing church occupies the site of—and is constructed out of the remains of—a Hellenistic Temple to Demeter, with the podium of the pagan building still clearly visible beneath the southeast corner. (Its stone is of the same warm-red colour observed above in the North Basilica at Aghios Stéphanos.) Many ancient stones and fragments lie within and around, and the terracing and decorative elements of its sanctuary or neighbouring buildings can be seen below.
The temple to Demeter did not stand alone here, but must have been on the edge of the ancient city of Astypalaia, whose overgrown remains, known locally as Palatía, lie in the pine-woods further to the west. (Continue along the road a further 600–700m: 20m before a junction with water-fountain, where the road splits for Aghios Theologos, an unsigned metal gate on the east side of the road leads into the trees.) Just below the road is a small, ancient theatre: the bases of the proscenium columns, and a couple of rows of marble seats are visible. Ten metres further to the west is a small Doric temple, di-style in antis, oriented due east, and constructed in the large, clear masonry typical of the late Classical period: the marble blocks are eroded and lichen-covered, yet still preserve their fine finishing. The city stretched up behind to the watershed above, which looks out also to the west: the platform of another temple (this time oriented north–south) and column fragments, can be seen here, just above the level of the modern road. Ancient Astypalaia must also have stretched on below the theatre—down the fertile and protected slope to the east, incorporating the harbour at Kamari as its port. The position has those panoramic qualities and natural beauty so favoured by the Ancients in their choice of sites.


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