Kea is an island that does not reveal immediately and easily the wealth of its flora.
The summer visitors that enjoy mainly its breathtaking beaches, possibly will not notice the forests with the majestic oaks (Quercus ithaburensis, ssb. macrolepis) that cover big areas in the interior of the island, or the wonderful “Lilly of the sea” (Pancratium maritimum), that still embellishes its sandy beaches, although it is threatened with extinction by touristic exploitation of the beaches.
Also, campanula reiseri is one of the rarest and most threatened plants of Greece.
Kea is the home of 16 of the 1300 plants that grow only in Greece. From the 16 endemic plants of Kea, 5 have been characterized as rare.
The Fritillaria graeca is included in the strictly protected plants of the Convention of Bern of the European Council, signed for the maintenance of European wild life and natural ecotopes.
The south-eastern part of Kea has included itself in the network of NATURA 2000. The prevailing vegetation in the island are the thickets and the genista in many varieties (Sarcopoterium spinosum, Centaurea spinosa).
The main rock found is the slate. The rivers have periodical flow. The sea bottom is embellished by large extents of vegetation (Posidoniases).
In Kea you can find forests of Royal Oak, which are among the few that have remained in the Aegean. The oak sprouts in all central and Eastern Kea and in the old days its fruit provided the residents with jobs since they were tanners.
The “hamada” - fruit of the oak tree - was gathered in July up to September. The workers, after gathering the fruits, stretched it out on stone surfaces horses in order to dry. In all the regions where oaks grew, large coal ovens were set up for the tanning. Everything was done according to the indications of Forest inspection: the building of ovens, the control of combustion, the manufacturing of the final product and the transport. Then the tradesmen sold the products to factories of tannage in Europe.
This activity had as a result the destruction of a big parts of oak forests. Today, oak forests are protected with very strict measures. After the war, chemical products began to replace natural raw material for the treatment of skins and as a result the only thing that the oaks offer today is their shade. Furthermore, during the same period the production and the trade of charcoal blossomed in Kea.
The flowers of Kea
Myriads of wild flowers, in an incredible chromatic variety, cover the slopes of the hills, the banks of streams and the small, carved in rock lakes, the shaded gorges, the sides of the streets, even the slots of rocks.
Endemic plants of Cyclades and Greece, wild orchids, abundant pharmaceutical herbs, aromatic bushes, rare mushrooms, multicoloured lichens, centenarian chestnut trees, maples and "fides" (Juniperus phoenicea), "kokoretsies" (Pistacia terebinthus) and "koutsoupies" (Cercis siliquastrum), crocuses, water flags, bellflowers, wild roses, wild cornflags, daffodils, compose a painting of splendid beauty, that will certainly capture and keep the visitor for always prisoner to the charm of this "other", unknown Kea.
Archaeology of Kea
Karthea was the most important among the four cities of Ancient Kea. It was founded at the archaic era and had a long duration of life, until the beginings of the Byzantine period. It is found on the south-eastern part of the island, in the coastal region which today is named Poles.
If you find yourself there you believe that time has turned backwards, because nothing reminds of the 21st century, not even the way to reach it. Access to Karthea is until today only available through the ancient road that connected the city with the other cities of the island. The acropolis is surrounded by walls with at least six entries, while towers existed from which the region was being monitored.
The path that has been established has as a starting point the settlement Stavroudaki and it abstains 17 kilometres from Ioulida. After about 400 metres of earth-road, we will meet the paved path. From there, we leave modern Kea behind us. The natural and historical landscape of the path is one of the most important in the Cyclades. Advancing in the ancient path, the fauna and the flora of Kea introduces itself to us while we can hear the flow of the water of Vathipotamos.
By the time our eyes get used to the dense vegetation, we reach our destination. In front of us unfolds the sea. Here are Mikres Poles, solitary and imposing.
After a rest at the church of “Panaghia ton Polo” and having dived in the waters that have been protecting the city for centuries, we can begin our exploration.
At the southern utmost of the hills of Aspri Vigla the most important monuments can be seen: the temple of Athena (end of 6th/beginning of 5th century) in the north and the temple of Apollo (530 BC) in the south.
Two more monuments, a propylos and the building D (beginning of 3rd century), are on the terrace of the temple of Athena.
In the valley of Vathipotamos, the theatre and part of the system of the water feeder of the city were discovered. In the east of the acropolis lies the cemetery of city.
The Archaeological Museum exposes parts of the pediments of the temple of Athena. From the splinters of the sculptures on the pediments we conclude that the southern pediment had as subjects the fight of the Amazones with Athena in the centre, while the grabbing of Antiopi from Thisseus was found on the southern side, as testified by two architectural members, bearing the signs of Thisseus and Antiopi.
Celebrations and Festivities
New Years Eve
On New Years Eve the Cultural Association with the escort of "tsampouna" and "toympiou" (traditional musical instruments) welcomes the new year with traditional "tziotika" Christmas carols that are sung from house to house.
During the time of the Carneval (Apokries), disguised festivals are organised, carneval games and clown performances for the young and the older. The events reach their peak at the last day of the Apokries in Ioulida where the big Carneval parade is held with the attendance of disguised teams and the performance of theatrical sketches that satirize mainly local happenings. The event evolves in a frantic fest and, at the same time, the municipality offers wine, souvlaki and rice pudding with lemon.
The Celebration of Aghios (Saint) Haralambos
The day of the guardian Saint of Kea, Aghios Haralambos, is celebrated with great splendour and religious belief.
At the same time, each year on the first Sunday that follows the feast of Aghios Haralambos, the Association of organises a celebration in honour of the saint, in the Holy Temple of Aghios Dimitrios at Neo Faliro, in Athens. Afterwards, the people present gather to a nearby store where the cutting of the pie of the Association is held and guests are treated with “Tziotiko pasteli” (nougat with honey) and mastic gum.
Before the celebration commences with traditional songs and musical instruments, the Mayor helds a speach and makes a small assessment of the course of the Municipality.
Fairy Tales Festival
After the success of last years official premiere the fairy tales were back this summer to travel us to their magic world!
From 19th of August up to 4th of September, narrators of fairy tales were scattered in various picturesque locations on the island and narrated fairy tales, fables and popular myths from all over the world.