A view of Mandraki. In the background, the monastery of Panagia Spiliani and the medieval castle
|Area:||41.6 km² (16 sq.mi.)|
|Highest Mountain:||Mt. Profitis Elias (698 m (2,290 ft))|
|Population:||948 (as of 2001)|
|Density:||23 /km² (59 /sq.mi.)|
|Postal Code:||853 03|
|License Code:||ΚΧ, ΡΟ, PK|
Nisyros (Greek: Νίσυρος; also transliterated Nissiros) is a volcanic Greek island and municipality located in the Aegean Sea. It is part of the Dodecanese group of islands, situated between the islands of Kos and Tilos. Its shape is approximately round, with a diameter of about 8 km (5 mi), and an area of 41.6 km2 (16.062 sq mi). Several other islets are found in the direct vicinity of Nisyros, the largest of which is Gyali. The Municipality of Nisyros includes Gyalí (pop. 10) as well as uninhabited Pacheiá, Pergoússa, Kandelioússa, Ágios Antónios, and Stroggýli. It has a total land area of 50.055 km2 (19.326 sq mi) and a total population of 948 inhabitants. The island was also called Italian: Nisiro.
The island has a mountainous interior and in its center several craters are found. Its coasts are generally rocky or pebbled, but there are also a few sandy beaches (mainly in the northeastern part). The volcano is currently active (but not erupting), and fumaroles are found at the craters. The latest eruptive activity was a steam explosion in 1888, after small ash eruptions in 1871 and 1873 and earthquakes are not infrequent. A period of seismic unrest in 1996-1997 led an international team of scientist to initiate monitoring of the volcanic unrest in the European Union sponsored Geowarn project. The entire volcanic complex includes the seafloor between Nisyros and Kos, the island of Gyali, and a part of Kos island.
The island is reachable by ship from Pireaus and Kos, and in summer, there are many daily trips from the village of Kardamena on Kos. There is also a heliport. The main town and port of the island is Mandraki (pop. 682). Other villages are Paloi (167), Nikeia (48), and Emporios (25). According to a 2001 census, the municipality's resident population is 948 (including 10 on Gyali), although in summer it is augmented by many tourists as well as expatriate Nisyrians who visit the island for their vacations. Tourism is not so heavily developed as on other Greek islands. Deposits of perlite and pumice on Gyali provide much of the wealth of the island. The island used to be self-sufficient, and many crops were grown on its terraced slopes. Today, though, they are cultivated on a smaller scale.
According to Greek mythology, the island was formed when Poseidon cut off a part of Kos and threw it onto the giant Polyvotis to stop him from escaping. The ancient name of the Nisyros was Porphyris. Ancient walls, dating from the 5th century BC, part of the acropolis of the island, are found near Mandraki.
A traditional product of Nisyros is soumada, a non-alcoholic almond-flavoured drink. The patron saint of the island is Saint Nikitas. Many Orthodox Christian churches are found on the island, as well as four monasteries which are not inhabited by monks today, although various celebrations take place in them. The largest monastery is the one of Panagia Spiliani (Blessed Virgin Mary of the cave) at Mandraki. It is built beside the medieval castle erected by the Knights Hospitaller who conquered the island in 1315.
Mandraki is twinned with the following municipalities:
Nisyros, with fewer than 1000 permanent inhabitants, is famous for having the only 'active' volcano in Greece together with Santorini (Thyra). The island is essentially a volcanic cone with a large collapsed caldera in the center. It is possible to walk into the volcanic crater and view the smoking fumaroles at close hand.
There are two main villages on the island; Mandraki in the north-west (where the ferries dock) and Nikea, up on the edge of the volcanic rim to the south.
Nisyros is one of the stops for ferries that run between Piraeus (on the Greek mainland) and Rhodes, with other nearby stops being at Kos, Tilos and Symi. Sailings are not to a regular daily schedule and become less frequent in the winter months.
In addition, a fast catamaran service runs to Rhodes on some days (via Tilos), and many tourist boats bring day-trippers over from Kos each morning, returning early afternoon.
Mandraki and Nikea are small enough to stroll around on foot. To travel between the two there is an occasional bus service, or you can take a taxi. Alternatively, it is a half day hike between the two villages, via the volcanic crater.
The walk in volcanic crater. A path leads down to the yellow sulphur stained floor where you can walk up to and view the steaming vents.
Hike between Nikea and Mandraki via the volcanic crater. Most hotels on the island have free maps available for anyone interested in walks around the island.
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