Art, heritage & culture
  • Kalymnos
  • Art, heritage & culture


Kalymnos, the island of the sponge divers, is the fourth largest island of Dodecanese, with an expanse of 107 square kilometers. It is situated between Kos and Leros and is surrounded by quite a few little islands.

In general, the island is mountainous with two small valleys full of lemon trees and many herbs like thyme, sage and oregano from which Kalymnian honey gets its aroma. The impressive rocky sides of the island makes it ideal for rock climbing. This is why Kalymnos is known as the paradise of climbers.

It is believed that Kalymnos was inhabited in the Neolithic era. The first inhabitants were probably Karians, who came from Karia of Asia Minor (today’s Turkey), and later the Cretans who followed at about 1100 BC.  The Dorians later followed Cretans and built a settlement, which was named “Argos”.

In the 5th century BC, the Queen of Alicarnassos, Artenisia, with the alliance of Persians conquered the island. During the Persians wars Kalymnos became a member of the Athenian Ally and that was when the relationship with the nearby Kos was stabilized. Later, it was conquered by Romans and in the end of the 13th century by the Genovese, together with the rest of the Dodecanese.

At that time the castle of Chora was built, known as the “Pera Castle”. The knights of St. Johns Prelacy took over the island in 1306 until 1522. When they faced the violent attack of the Ottomans, they withdrew to Rhodes in order to, unsuccessfully, resist for the last time in the heart of their homeland, the town of Rhodes.

The ottoman domination lasted about 400 years, up to 1912, when the Italians tried to conquer Kalymnos and the rest of the Dodecanese. Kalymnos finally became part of Greece in 1948 after the Axis powers were defeated in the World War 2.