In 1965 a devastating earthquake struck the Sporades. One of the biggest casualties was the main town, or Chora, of Alonissos. The inhabitants had little option but to leave their homes behind and move down to the coast, a few kilometres away, where a new town and port, Patitiri, was under construction.
Old Alonissos Town lay abandoned until the 1980s, when, little by little, foreign tourists enamoured with the island began to buy up and renovate houses there. Soon the town was full of life again, reborn as a multinational melting pot, with Germans, English, Greeks and other nationalities living side by side in their adopted Mediterranean paradise.
Narrow alleyways, connected by age-worn steps, maze around the hillside, balconies overflow with greenery and blooming flowers, colourfully painted doors and shutters add yet more polychromatic jollity.
What did these incomers see that made them invest in and restore the town’s crumbling edifices? First is the position. Alonissos Town sits atop its very own hill at about 200m above sea level. Sweeping vistas take in swathes of the Aegean Sea, the green hinterland of Alonissos itself, and other islands of the archipelago, including Skopelos. Only a couple of kilometres away below on the coast is a series of splendid beaches, a proximity that makes it eminently possible to nip down for a quick dip whenever the sea calls.
Then there’s the town itself, whose picturesque potential was evident to those pioneering incomers who would give it a new lease of life. Narrow alleyways, connected by age-worn steps, maze around the hillside, balconies overflow with greenery and blooming flowers, colourfully painted doors and shutters add yet more polychromatic jollity, cafés, artisanal shops and tavernas spill out onto the streets, sage Byzantine churches and once mighty Venetian walls solemnly recall times past.
A footpath from the port of Patitiri, just two kilometres away to the east, provides the best and most scenic way of arriving at old Alonissos Town. Head there in the late afternoon, enjoy a sunset aperitif and stay on for a moonlit dinner. Then you’ll really understand why this once abandoned, tumble-down town was brought back to life with so much love.
Villas on the island of Alonissos >>