Kalymnos is a member of the Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean Sea, it is located 183 nautical miles southeast of Athens and 85 nautical miles northwest of Rhodes, the capital of the region and it is the fifth-largest amongst the Dodecanese Islands, with a population of nearly 17,000 people.
On the island's east coast is the capital Pothia, which is actually the main port of Kalymnos. A lively and picturesque place, built around the port and combining strict traditions with all the characteristics of a modern town.
The small and attractive climbing villages of Panormos, Myrties, Masouri, Arginonta, Scalia and Emporios on the west and north, Vothini, Vlychadia and Vathy on the south and east have turned Kalymnos into a very popular climbing destination.
The island was once known as the "island of shade", (Isola Umbrosa), but that is certainly no longer the case. Today it is dotted with low vegetation and virtually bare of trees.
Kalymnos is mountainous with a major rock escarpment along the west coast. In the past, this barrenness eventually drove the locals towards the sea to earn a living. The men of Kalymnos became worldwide known as sponge-divers. They excelled to such an extent that their island went on to be the most celebrated natural sponge trade centre in the Mediterranean until the sponge trade began to decline gradually in the ‘80s.
When rock climbing was discovered on Kalymnos in the late ‘90s, the island found its place back onto the map.
Sport & Nature
Climbing: This is the most popular activity on the island. There are two climbing gear shops, both in Masouri / Armes.
Sightseeing: The castles of Kalymnos present considerable archaeological interest. The Castle of Hora, the Castle of Chrysocheria, the archaeological site of the ancient acropolis of Pothia, the 4th-century temple of Apollo, the ancient and Paleochristian ruins in Vathy and the ruins of the fortified Byzantine settlement are places of great interest and worth a visit.
The Archaeological Museum in Pothia. It features prehistoric, classical and private collections.
The Museum of Marine Finds in Vlychadia features assorted items found underwater or salvaged from sunken ships.
The Sponge Diving Museum in Pothia is the perfect introduction to the island’s centuries-old marine history and culture.
The Kalymnian Home in Vothyni is a private folk art museum replicating a traditional local home.
Snorkelling, Scuba Diving, Hiking, Cycling or taking a Day Trip to one of the surrounding islands can be unforgettable adventures.
All types of bars with spectacular sea views offer all types of nightlife from karaoke to disco and greek music with live dances.
Culture and History
In antiquity Kalymnos was known as Kalydna, meaning: good water. The first settlements on the island date back to the Neolithic period and have been inhabited ever since.
Diving for sponges has its roots also in antiquity, and it brought significant economic prosperity to the island, which minted its silver coins in the 6th century BC featuring the lyre of god Apollo.
In The Iliad Homer reports that the island contributed 30 ships to the Trojan War.
During the Persian Wars, Kalymnos was conquered by the Persians and liberated by the Athenians. Later it returned under Persian rule.
Ensued the Roman occupation.
In the 7th century AC, Kalymnos was invaded by Arabs and pirates. The population barricaded themselves behind castle walls built at high points, many of which still survive.
In the 14th century, the island came under the Order of the Knights of St. John and followed the Ottomans.
Italians occupied Kalymnos from 1912-1943, while the Germans took over in 1945. Following the second world war the Dodecanese Islands, including Kalymnos, officially joined the Greek state in 1948.