The most far flung of all the greek islands, Kastellorizo (Megisti) is located East of Rhodes and is very close to the Turkish coast. In fact it lies just opposite the harbour town of Kaş and makes a delightful destination for a day out whilst holidaying on the South west coast of Turkey.
Just a few kilometres from the Turkish coastal town of Kaş, Kastellorizo is at a point where Europe ends and Asia begins.
Surrounded by the turquoise waters of the mediterranean sea, a visit to the Greek island of Kastellorizo enables you to experience lazy, laid back greek island life set amongst neo classical architecture.
Cobbled alleyways, traditional colourful restored mansions, pretty churches, and hidden squares, give you a real sense of how wealthy and sucessful this island has been in the past. Nowadays many of the buildings that lie behind the very photogenic and pretty harbour, are falling into disrepair, desperate for some entrepeneur to fall in love with them and restore them to their former glory. Yet there is something magical about wandering these back streets which remain suspended in time.
The harbour on the other hand is filled with beautiful restored houses, painted all the colours of the mediterranean palate. Delicious, laid back relaxing tavernas selling fresh locally caught fish stand shoulder to shoulder with trendy coffee bars, shops selling beautiful fabrics and interior decor and tiny market shops offering a selection of greek speciality foods including sweet pastries. Several hours can be spent here watching the world go by!
If you are lucky you might even get chance to stroke the local turtle who often drops by to pick up some fish served to her by a local restaurant!
For the more active visitor there are some fabulous walks on the island and a guide book can be bought when you arrive. However these walks are best done in the cooler months. In the summer it is difficult to resist the temptation to swim in the beautiful crystal clear turquoise waters. There are a few places only a short walk away from the harbour where you can access the sea for a swim. Sea kayaking is also a fun way to explore the tiny islets . You could even take a boat out to Georges island where there is a small beach and cafe or take the speed boat to see Galazio Spilaio ( The Blue Cave,) the biggest and most spectacular of all sea caves in Greece.
In addition to a fascinating small museum and a Byzantine castle, the island also has a number of Lycian rock tombs, churches and small shrines to discover when you explore the coastal path, back streets and hidden squares.
The island has had a turbulent and fascinating history and has been occupied by the Venetians, The Ottomans, The Italians, The French and the English. The small museum is worth visiting to give you a sense of the island’s history. The island was later made famous by the award winning italian film Mediterrano,( A love story between a local greek girl and an Itlian soldier) which was fimed on the island.
If you take time to walk away from the harbour front, you will come across sleepy shaded courtyards and squares. In one of these squares is a shrine to a famous resident of Kastellorizo:
Despina Achladioti, was born in May 1890 on Kastellorizo, then part of the Ottoman Empire . She lived a hard life on this small rocky island only a short distance from the Turkish coast.
In 1927 she moved with her husband to the smaller island of RO which lies next to kastellorizo. No one knows why they chose to live here, but they eked out a simple living.
After her husband died in 1940, she continued to live here, joined by her blind mother.
Even though the island of Ro did not formally join the Greek state until 1947, Despina would raise and lower her greek flag every single day as her home island of Kastellorizo was invaded by the Italians, bombed by the Germans and its 14,000 inhabitants were evacuated by the British.
This small act which Despina carried out every day of her life was recognised by the greek state upon her death in 1987. She was buried on the island with full military honours.
The ‘Lady of Ro‘ as Despina became known embodies the amazing independent spirit, pride and determination of the island people.
Whether you are interested in history, photography, food or simply travel, Kastellorizo cannot fail to delight.
If you are holidaying in Turkey, then the easiest way to visit Kastellorizo (or Meis as it is called by the Turks) is to take the ferry from Kaş. The crossing takes around 20 minutes and there are 2 ferries that go everyday, departing from Kaş harbour at around 10.00am each morning.
However there are formalities that need to be completed as you are leaving Turkey to travel to Greece. This is pertty straightforward for European or British passport holders. you just need to show up at the ferry office at around 09.00am on the day of travel (usually better to book before hand) and hand in your passport. The ferry company will then deal with the formalities of taking the passports to the police office and customs control in Kaş.
If you are a non European citizen then you need to check whether a visa is required as you are visiting Greece. For Turkish citizens a shengen visa is required. This cannot be organised on the same day of travel and needs to be planned well ahead so it is best to check a few days before your planned trip.
Once the Turkish Authorites have checked your passports and visas, you will then be handed back your passport when board the ferry.
On arrival at Kastelorizo, when you disembark the ferry you have to show your passport to the Greek customs. The office is at the harbourside.
You will then be given a time to return to the boat for the return journey to Kaş. This is generally around 16.00. Before boarding the ferry you again need to show your passport to the Greek customs. On arrival in Kaş, the boat captain will again take your passport from you as you disembark. he will carry out all the formalities with the Turkish authorities and you will be asked to collect your passport from the ferry office 30 minutes later.
If you are travelling to Kastellorizo from Greece, there are both ferries and flights from Rhodes island directly to Kastellorizo. (yes there is even a tiny airport on one side of the island!)