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Discovering the ancient city of Arkesini in Amorgos

by Nikos Taskos
23 minutes read

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!

an ancient acropolis built on a hill with blue sea and sky in the background
From up there the defenders could see any incoming invaders (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

castle-acropolis built upon a hill with rock and stone
Taking advantage of the landform was key in building the ancient acropolis (Image © Miles with Vibes)
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).

map of amorfos with arkesini highlighted
The location of Vroutsis village on the southwest of Amorgos


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?

Quick Info

Trail type: Out and backRecommended time: 2 hours (return)
Surface: Paving & Dirt (marked)Equipment: Water, hat, sun lotion, trainers
Difficulty: EasyHighlights: churches, ancient acropolis, view

The path

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.

path with a stone wall and bushes leading to a church
Image © Miles with Vibes
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.

a blue and white chapel on hill with blue aegean sea in the background
The Chapel of St John with an impressive Aegean-blue background (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

a blue and white building in amorgos
And that’s where you start your adventure, in the main square of the village (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

a blue and white church of saint spyridon in vroutsi amorgos
The white-blue Church of Saint Spyridon in the main square of the village (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

map of arkesini path in Amorgos
The path is only a 2 mins walk from the square of Vroutsis

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!

a closed gate inside a hiking track
The start of the path – follow the red marks to stay on track! (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

chora of amorgos up the hill as seen from a dinstance
Take a break and look around… Can you spot the Chora of Amorgos? (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

a blue and white church of saint john sitting on a hill with blue sky
Prepare your camera for some amazing shots! (Image © Miles with Vibes)

Highway to the acropolis

Leaving behind the beautiful church you’ll have a clear line of view to the ancient Acropolis of Arkesini.

dirt path with bushes and view of the aegean sea and a castle
In this part of the path, you can clearly view the acropolis down below (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

a stone ancient path leading to a hill-fortress with blue sea in the background
That could have been the highway leading to Ancient Arkesini (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

ancient rock fortress sitting on a hill
Solid rock and man-made stone tried to make Arkesini impenetrable (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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).

stairs leading higher on an ancient acropolis
You are so close to the top now but watch your step! (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

rocky demolished ancient buildings
Image © Miles with Vibes

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.

an ancient acropolis road of arkesini in amorgos
Some centuries ago this now deserted road could have been full of life (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

how agriculture was done in cyclades during ancient times
Precious, rich in soil earth led to many attacks in the area (Image © Miles with Vibes)
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.

rock tower made by hikers with aegean blue on the background
Unfortunately, many hikers left a lot more behind than a rock tower (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

ancient stone road leading down the hill from a blue-white church
…and that’s the way back uphill. Brace yourself! (Image © Miles with Vibes)

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.

stone stairs, cliffs and the sea
Catch some amazing views of Amorgos coast (Image © Miles with Vibes)

Know before you go

How can I get to Ancient Arkesini?

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!

Is the path difficult?

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!

Do I need any special equipment?

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!

What’s the best time to do the hike?

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!

Planning to do the hike to the ancient acropolis of Arkesini? Leave your thoughts below!

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