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Gavdos is located 26 miles (50 km) south of Chora Sfakion. It rises between Africa and Crete, almost in the middle of the Libyan Sea, and is the southernmost tip of Europe, its last border with the south. It is a small island of 29 square kilometers. It has a permanent population of about 90 people, but that number rises to around 3,500 in the summer – mostly from visitors who come to enjoy the island’s unspoilt attractions.
Gavdos is one of the sunniest places in Europe. It is an island that is a sanctuary, a place where man becomes one with nature, far from everything known and trivial.
The whole island belongs to the NATURA 2000 network of the EU ecological protection program and is protected by Greek and European legislation. According to the Community Habitats Directive, coastal sand dunes with cedar species are a priority habitat. The priority habitat of coastal sand dunes with cedar species is found in 3 areas of Gavdos island, in Sarakiniko, on the beach of Agios Ioannis, and in Lavrakas. The location of the island also makes it an important stop for birds migrating between Africa and Europe.
Prehistoric remains show that Gavdos has been inhabited since Neolithic times. It is thought to be the mythical island of Ogygia, where Calypso imprisoned Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. The Romans found iron ore here and deforested the island to provide fuel for smelting. There are remains of the smelting furnaces at Lavraka Bay.
Gavdos is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles under the name Clauda, when the ship carrying St Paul to Rome passed by the island, running before the storm which eventually wrecked it.
During the Middle Ages, Gavdos belonged to the Byzantines, the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks. The Ottomans occupied it from 1665 to 1895. In the 1930s, the Greek government exiled Communists here. During WW2, Gavdos was a staging post for the evacuation of Allied troops from Crete, before falling under German occupation until 1944.
Things to Do
Gavdos is ideal for hiking and camping, with the beautiful and unspoiled beaches of the island in Sarakiniko, Agiannis, Pyrgos, Potamos, Lavrakas, Korfos and Tripiti.
Tripiti, in the southeast of the island, with its cape perforated with three natural arches, is the southernmost point of Europe. At the cape is a sculpture of a huge chair, from which you can look at the endless blue of the Libyan Sea to Africa.
The beach of Agiannis is isolated, with sand, rocks, pines and junipers. The small church of Agios Ioannis dates from 900 AD. and nearby there are ruins of Roman buildings and an early Christian cemetery.
Other attractions include the lighthouse at Ampelos – a replica of the old one destroyed by the Germans in World War II, which houses a cafe open in the summer and a small museum. In Metochi, the Folklore Museum of Gavdos exhibits traditional tools, agricultural and shipbuilding equipment, costumes, household items, etc.
You can go to the building of the exiles in Sarakiniko, the Venetian fortress in Kefali and the carved tombs in Lavraka.
Finally, it is worth visiting Kastri, the capital of the island. Starting from Kastri we can go to almost all routes, either by car or by the beautiful and passable paths through pine trees that give us shade during the summer months.
Local Health Center:
Gavdos Town Hall
In addition, you can visit the website of the Municipality of Gavdos for more information: www.gavdos.gr