Fortified acropolis, check. Breathtaking views, check. Off the beaten path, check. Ancient Arkesini is a sight not to be missed in Amorgos.
What to expect?
A major ancient settlement built on a cliff, with an impressive acropolis providing a bird’s-eye view of the Aegean Sea. The rock itself is carved to physically reinforce the castle!
To reach it, you need to follow a path from the nearby village of Vroutsi. Let’s dig into the details!
Over 2 millennia of history
Ancient Arkesini was one of the major settlements of antiquity of Amorgos. Along with Ancient Aegiali & Ancient Minoa, they formed the renowned Tripoli of Amorgos.
The city was first established sometime between the 10th – 8th centuries BC, by settlers coming from the nearby Naxos Island. However, due to the threat of pirates, it was abandoned during the Medieval Period.
Reigning in turns
Athenians, Macedonians, and Romans; all took turns in controlling Ancient Arkesini and the Tripolis of Amorgos.
Where is Ancient Arkesini located?
To reach the site you need to follow a path starting from the nearby Vroutsi Village (click here for the exact Google Maps location).
There’s a village in the area called Arkesini. So, don’t get confused, it’s not where the path to Ancient Arkesini starts!
Treasure hunting anyone?
60 byzantine gold coins hidden from an invasion, were found in a seashell. The treasure dates to 674-677, during the reign of Constantine IV. Perhaps there are more?
|Trail type: Out and back||Recommended time: 2 hours (return)|
|Surface: Paving & Dirt (marked)||Equipment: Water, hat, sun lotion, trainers|
|Difficulty: Easy||Highlights: churches, ancient acropolis, view|
The path is relatively easy, not dangerous or demanding at any part.
It will take around 30 mins to go and 40 mins to return, due to the ascent on the way back. Once you reach the acropolis there are steep stairs you need to climb in order to reach the top.
Best time to visit
You should either visit Ancient Arkesini early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Make sure you avoid the hot sun so you can better enjoy the walk.
Vroutsis Village, your first stop
The path to Ancient Arkesini starts from a village called Vroutsi, located in the southern part of the island.
Make your way to that main square of the village (called Eud. Nomikou Square) where you will also find a small parking lot.
It’s just outside the Church of Saint Spyridon, wrongfully designated as Holy Ghost Church in Google Maps. It’s a relatively large & distinctive white church with a blue dome.
Here is the exact Google Maps location.
On the same square, there is also a memorial devoted to all those who have fallen fighting for Greece. A couple of dates go as back as the Greek War of Independence.
There are signs inside the village pointing you to the start of the path, but it’s better to use Google Maps.
Starting your short hike
The start of the path is marked with a red sign followed by the number 3. Look for the same sign during the hike to stay on track.
This is it! Open the gate and let your short adventure begin!
The first part of the path is on a well-maintained paved road. There is a slight decline and it’s easy to walk. On your right, you can enjoy great views over the central part of the island. You can even see Chora from up here.
On your front, lies the picturesque Church of St. John. The church stands high upon the hill, with the endless blue in the background. Grab some quick shots here, it won’t get any better!
The path goes further down all the way to the base of the church. You can make a quick diversion and go uphill to have a closer look at the church. The views from up there are truly magnificent.
Highway to the acropolis
Leaving behind the beautiful church you’ll have a clear line of view to the ancient Acropolis of Arkesini.
There is little question as to why this location was picked for the city. It provides an unobtrusive view of the Aegean and the gulfs of Katapola and Chora. You can easily see any ships approaching from a distance.
The wall of the acropolis is impressive, about 1.20-1.60m thick, with openings for shooting on top.
Solid rock and man-made stone worked together to create an imposing fortress. The city was built around a tall cliff and many of the buildings mingle perfectly with natural rock.
Did you know?
Ancient Arkesini is also called Kastri, as per its castle.
It’s time to start descending. You’ll find yourself on a dirt path with pebbles.
A stone wall on both sides of the path gives the impression of a constructed highway leading directly to the ancient city. Make sure to take extra care on this part as it can be slippery.
The Castle Church of Holy Mary
You have now reached the base of the ancient acropolis.
Move closer to the natural rock and open the little blue gate (partially damaged). It leads further up.
And now the best part!
Follow the narrow stairs all the way up. Take extra care when climbing if it’s windy as it can get you off balance easily.
Can you find it?
One step bears the inscription (Apollonos) apotropaio (u).
As soon as you get on the upper level of the acropolis, another beautiful church is there to greet you. It’s dedicated to Panagia Kastriani (Virgin Mary of the Castle).
Did you know?
During the middle-ages, devotees & pilgrims visiting during the celebrations of the chapel, would stay on the surrounding stone buildings.
Yearly on the celebration on the 15th of August, the devotees honour Panagia (Virgin Mary) by organising a festival with traditional dishes.
Exploring Ancient Arkesini
There’s a narrow road leading you deeper into the acropolis.
As with most ancient sites in Greece, it’s ill-maintained, with ruined buildings and stones scattered all around the place.
The views, however, are magnificent.
With blue dominating your horizon, and the salty Aegean breeze (speaking of Amorgos, gale would be more precise) you can’t help it but feel refreshed. That’s why it’s worth your while climbing all the way up here.
Did you know?
The most fertile lands of Amorgos were in the area of Arkesini. That’s why it was commonly targeted by pirate raids.
Have a seat and enjoy a snack. You can hear the waves crashing on the steep rocks. It’s blue all the way to eternity around you.
You can go exploring around, all the way to the end of the rock. But you need to take extra care since the place is literally in ruins.
The sunset from up here is truly amazing.
The return trip
Time to head back!
The return trip is significantly more tiring as you will now be going uphill. Make several stops along the way and don’t forget to look around for more amazing views of the area.
If you have the time, feel free to explore the village of Vroutsi as you’ll find peace amongst its alleys.
Need some time to cool down?
Make a stop to Klimataria for some traditional food or enjoy a Greek Coffee. There is also a small supermarket inside.
Know before you go
The path starts from the nearby village of Vroutsi and can be reached by car or public transport. For the exact map location click here!
The track leading to the acropolis is not demanding or dangerous. You will need approx. 30 mins to go and 40 to return. View more info about the track here!
No special equipment is needed. Make sure to wear a hat & sunscreen, trainers and don’t forget your camera. Read more about Ancient Arkesini here!
I suggest doing the walk between 18:00 to 20:00, during summer. The sun is not too hot, the sunlight is ideal for photos and the track is less crowded. View photos of the short hike here!