Αntiparos – Prophitis Ilias
15+ Aegean islands in one glance
Text | Photos: Alexis Petidis
The paradise island of Antiparos needs no introduction: the relaxed atmosphere, its quiet lacy beaches, the magnificent cave, as well as the interesting archaeological finds in the neighboring island of Despotiko, are well known by now.
Of course, there are always new places to discover. Such a place, unknown to many, is Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias), the highest peak of the island. Although the elevation is only 308 meters, it offers not only panoramic views of Antiparos, but also a stunning Aegean horizon with more than 15 islands! This is a real taste of what one can easily see on a map: Antiparos is located in the heart of the Cyclades…
A journey of about four kilometers through a narrow but passable dirt road separates Profitis Ilias from Aghios Georgios for those who decide to go there by jeep, motorbike or mountain bike. (If you have an ordinary car, you should inquire about the state of the road …) For those who want to add a touch of adventure, there is an interesting choice: a walk that starts from Ag. Georgios, climbs the crest of Kampia, the hill north of Ag. Georgios, and through a typical Cycladic landscape with a lot of rocks, low vegetation and spectacular views, terminates at Profitis Ilias in less than two hours.
If you don’t have your own vehicle, it’s convenient to start the walk from the bus terminal on the coast of Ag. Georgios (1). From there follow the coastal road to the east for about 150 meters, and then turn to the north on a wide, straight road that leads to the interior of the settlement. You must cross the asphalt road that comes from Chora, and after 500 meters you will reach the end of the straight road. There, the road narrows, curves and ascends to a complex of houses with a characteristic windmill (2) and from the plateau at the entrance of the complex, it continues uphill as a wide path beside the fence. After a few dozen meters it crosses a half-fallen low iron fence and after another 100 meters reaches the ruins of an old house (3).
A little narrower now, the trail continues beside the northern wall of the ruins, turns right and climbs towards N-NE, but soon it splits again and again and becomes inconspicuous. Here one must improvise, but fortunately it is difficult to get lost. Essentially, after the ruins you must climb a few dozen meters further, walking between low shrubs, to the top of the slope. In a few minutes you will find yourself at the southern end of the ridge of Kampia and will be able to discern a tall antenna that rises on the top of Profitis Ilias. Being able now to see your destination, continue without a clear path along the wide ridge to the NE, enjoying magnificent views and after about one kilometer (4) you will find the dirt road that leads to the top of Profitis Ilias (5).
As is often the case in Greece, you will find there a beautiful small white church with a hospitable courtyard. Unfortunately the big antenna, the related installations, and some building materials at the plateau in front of the church, spoil the special «atmosphere» of the place… This is an opportunity to master the ability to remove the unpleasant things from your mind and enjoy the magnificent view: the western profile of Paros dominates the east, with the silhouette of Naxos popping out from its southwestern end. In the southeast you can see Schinoussa and Iraklia, in the south Ios, Sikinos (behind the south «peninsula» of Antiparos) and Folegandros (behind the eastern end of Despotiko), and of course Despotiko with the small islet Strongylo behind it, along with Kimolos and Milos in the background. The west is dominated by the peaks of Sifnos, with the faint silhouettes of Serifos and Siros further north. Surely, a day with good visibility and a map of the Aegean will reveal more Cycladic islands.
Leaving Profitis Ilias, the simplest option is to follow the dirt road that you came from. After about 1300 meters leave to your right a smaller and rough dirt road that leads to the small beach of Monastiria (6) and continue towards the SW in a landscape with cedars and thyme and some interesting ruins, probably remnants of the old mining activity on the island.