Gavdos island, Crete

The island of Gavdos is believed to be the ancient isle of Ogygia which is where the nymph Calypso lived in Homer"s "Odyssey. It has also been known by a variety of other names throughout history such as "Cavdos" and Clavdos" (Ptolemens and Ierocles); "Glavdi" (the Epistles); "Gozzo" (the Venetians) and "Bougadoz" (the Turks). During the first Byzantine period it had many inhabitants and, consequently, Gavdos had its own bishop. However, during the Venetian rule pirates began to seek refuge on the island and, slowly, the locals began to abandon the island for mainland Crete.

Until the late 18th, early 19th century, Gavdos was part of the Municipality of Anopolis Sfakion, belonging to Sfakia but in 1925 it was declared a separate community but remaining part of the county of Sfakia until 1950. After this time the majority of inhabitants began to move away to Paleochora and, as a consequence, Gavdos became part of the county of Selinos.

Kastri is the capital of the small island, Gavdos, which lies opposite Sfakia and is the southern most border of Greece and Europe. Its position is 24 nautical miles from Agia Roumeli and the island lies in the middle of the Libyan Sea. It has only four villages: Karavi, the harbour; Kastri, the capital; and the villages of Vatsiana and Ambelos.

Together, these four communities house around 40 year round residents. The shape of the island forms a triangle and its terrain is semi rocky with a warm and dry climate and very little rain. A large part of the island is covered with cedar and pine trees and it has some superb golden beaches which have recently won the award "Golden Starfish", in particular the beaches of Agia Ioannis, Korfos, Potamos, Saracenico and Tripiti.