IOS or Niós, as the locals call it, is one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades, like a flower, as its name “Ion” denotes. According to the ancient tradition, Ios was the homeland of Homer’s mother and the final resting place of the great epic poet.

Upon reaching the island, the view before you is enchanting: as pretty as a picture, Hora lies very close to the harbour in Ormos and greets the travelers, built in an amphitheatre – like manner on the slope of a hill, on the top of which there are ruins of a mediaeval castle. This is a listed traditional village, one of the finest examples of Cycladic architecture. Snow-white little houses, picturesque arcade-covered alleys, the twelve windmills, churches with arched belfries and light blue domes create a unique residential area. Horas sheltered alleys is the stage where Kounia, an ancient local custom is performed every May, as follows: young men make swings for young ladies who rock themselves while listening to traditional love songs being sung to them in the form of a dialogue.

The most important of Ios 365 churches is Panayia Gremiótissa, standing on Horas highest spot. It is built literally on the edge of a cliff, affording an amazing view of the open sea. This place is the center of one of the biggest religious feasts on the island, taking place on August 15, and involving a procession in Hora with the icon of the Mother of God placed at the forefront. Later on, a traditional festival takes place with local island-style singing and dancing till dawn! Skarkos, an early Cycladic period settlement, 2,800 BC, denotes the significant presence of man registered as far back as the early antiquity. The exemplary restoration and promotion of this archaeological site has been awarded. A rich collection of finds from the settlement as well as antiquities going back to the islands historical course are on display in Horas excellent Archaeological Museum.

Palaiokastro stands on the northeast side of the island and used to be a fort during the Byzantine period, useful for controlling the seaways from Constantinople down to Crete. It communicated via visual signals and fires with castles in Naxos, Amorgos and Santorini. Mylopotas, Manganari, Psathi, Kalamos and Agia Theodoti beaches are known worldwide, among others, to be top choices for dives in the island’s emerald waters. 


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