Smack in the heart of the Aegean, often dubbed the pearl of the Cyclades, the island of Paros boasts not only abundant natural beauty but also an alluring diversity that beckons the explorer in you: Archetypal blue and gold beaches, cosmopolitan towns, buzzing nightlife and a thriving water sports scene on the one hand. And on the other, a host of impossibly quaint settlements where time seems to stand still and where ancient customs remain embedded in modern everyday life. On the outskirts of the main road leading east from bustling Paroikia, these medieval villages have largely escaped the tourist development that has reshaped the rest of Paros. Postcard pretty, they look (and sometimes feel!) like they did in the 15th-century. When they were originally built as castles out of the fear of the pirates at the time plaguing the Mediterranean.
At the Yria Boutique Hotel & Spa, we are certainly proud of -if not enamoured with- our island of Paros and its multifaceted charms. So this month’s blog post will be taking you into a virtual tour of the most iconic villages of the island of Paros: Lefkes, Marpissa and Prodromos.
The most iconic villages of the island of Paros: Lefkes
Photo by Flickr user Kevin Thornton
More worldly than the others, Lefkes is the secret of in-the-know, Greek and foreign travellers. 11 km south-east of Paroikia, built below Aghioi Pantes, the island’s highest peak, it is the sole mountain village of Paros, climbed on a verdant hill with olive trees, pines and unobstructed views over the island of Naxos. Lefkes was Paros’ capital in medieval times and a village of marble craftsmen up until the 1950s when most left to search for work in quarries in the mainland. Nowadays it boasts more than 500 inhabitants; some of them marble workers returning home after wandering throughout Greece; others, young people and artists carving out a new life amidst this pristine, striking Cycladic setting. Sporting a host of cube-shaped, traditional houses, Venetian buildings, whitewashed pigeon houses, old mills, and ornate Byzantine churches, Lefkes invites you to lose yourself in its shaded passageways and marble-paved alleyways. There are a couple of cafes and tavernas, a few shops and artist studios and an interesting folk art museum; while the 15th-century, magnificent church of Aghia Triada hosts a collection of rare Byzantine icons. The more adventurous types should also note that the renowned Byzantine Road -a paved path dating back to medieval times that leads to the village of Prodromos and all the way down to sea level- starts from Lefkes, too.
The most iconic villages of the island of Paros: Marpissa
Photo by AliBoyle
18 km south-east of Paroikia, just above Piso Livadi, Marpissa is amphitheatrically built, in typical Cycladic manner, on Kefalos hill. Fashioned as a fortified settlement with cube-shaped houses, interconnected through intramural doors that provide secret escape routes in the case of pirate raids, Marpissa is remarkably well preserved. A sight for sore eyes, it features pristine alleys, whitewashed single-story dwellings and elegant two-story mansions; impressive arches and passageways, tidy rainwater channels, 19 churches and 9 squares. As the home town of the great sculptor Nikos Perantinos, Marpissa also hosts the artist’s namesake museum sporting a collection of his celebrated bronze busts, statues, commemorative medals and drachma coins. Authentic beauty and affable locals eager to regale you with old pirate tales aside, there are even more good reasons to visit Marpissa. In Easter, the famous reenactments of the Life and Passions of Christ blend the spiritual and the theatrical in a potent, soul-stirring mix that charms inhabitants and visitors alike. Likewise in the summer, the Routes in Marpissa, a three-day, experiential festival, showcases the village’s architecture, folklore, music, art and environment through thematic walks, interactive games, talks, exhibitions, old mansion tours and performances.
The most iconic villages of the island of Paros: Prodromos
Photo by Instagram user @minogiannisvalantis
On the south-east of Paroikia, the small and impossibly cute Prodromos is accessible through an arch with a vaulted roof and a belfry. This getaway joins together the churches of St. Nicolas and St. Spyridon while at the same time prevents the entrance of vehicles into the village. The houses are whitewashed and sugar-cube-shaped, bound together with arches. Swashes of colours and intoxicating smells come from the geranium, bougainvillaea and basil clad, well-tended courtyards; cats happily purr, birds chirp, locals nonchalantly play backgammon and kids roam the car-free alleyways. Prodromos boasts an impressive number of churches, the most notable being the 16th-century Church of Aghios Ioannis Prodromos, dedicated to the patron saint of the village. This is where every year on Good Friday the villagers are offering traditional chickpea soup (revithada), wine and octopus to friends and strangers alike, in remembrance of their dead.
Though the rhythm of life is characteristically cool and calm, at noon there is usually an influx of visitors in the village. They are those returning from their trekking adventures on the Byzantine path: The antique mule track that once linked Prodromos and Lefkes. A few kilometres down the coast you’ll also reach Ambelas, a small fishing village with tavernas featuring seafood delicacies.
The Yria Resort sits in beautiful Parasporos bay amidst a sizable oasis of vineyards and fruit trees, a few hundred meters from the beach. Shaped like a traditional island village this gorgeous boutique Hotel & Spa in Paros provides loads of welcoming privacy and seclusion- vital for relaxing holidays: Offering premium accommodation in Paros, Yria’s luxury rooms and suites and uber-luxurious private villa rental are spread around a verdant area of 22,000 square meters, featuring plenty of space among them, individual entrances and private terraces, for maximum peace of mind and comfort. At the same time, Yria’s trademark hospitality and host of indulgent services have become renowned beyond the Greek borders. We are not resting on our laurels however. To keep up with the zeitgeist, this year we are placing even more emphasis on refreshing and updating our hotel and its offerings.
We do hope to see as much of you -our dear friends and guests- as possible, soon. Until then just keep dreaming of the glorious Greek summer ahead!