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Cyclades

Night view of the town of Naxos from port

Here lies harmony, here lies human scale. Le Corbusier, 1936

Say ‘Greek island’, and most people picture one of the Cyclades (the ‘circling’ islands, surrounding sacred Délos): barren rocks rising from the bluest of seas, where crags spill over with villages of asymmetrical white houses, with a pocket-sized church squeezed in at every corner. Few places are so irresistibly stark and clear, so visually pure and honest, so sharply defined in light and shadow. The Cyclades are relatively small and numerous, and as you sail or look out to sea you can always see several floating on the horizon, beckoning, framing a sunset or a rosy-fingered dawn.

The light in the Cyclades is so pure because the Aegean is a fairly arid place, knocked about by winds. In winter, when many islanders take refuge in Athens, the islands are plagued by the northerly voreas that turns ship schedules into fiction. After March the sirocco warms islands still green from winter rains. From July to September, when many of the Cyclades look parched, the meltémi from the Russian steppes huffs and puffs, providing natural air-conditioning.

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Amorgos

The Big Blue

Anafi

A Cycladic Rock of Gibraltar

Andros

'Little England' and beautiful walks

Antíparos

Laid back beaches and a big cave

Delos

Sacred to Apollo and Artemis

Despotikó

The 'Other Delos'

Donoússa

Quiet little island east of Náxos

Folegandros

Little drama queen

Ios

Party island

Iraklia

Antidote to stress

Kea (Tzía)

Guarded by an ancient lion

Keros and Daskalió

Ancient treasure islands

Kimolos

The little chalky one

Koufoníssia

Beachy 'Back Islands' for fashionistas

Kythnos

A slice of Old Greece

Makronisos

Greece's Alcatraz

Milos

The Island of Colours

Mykonos

Party island

Naxos

The Big Daddy of the Cyclades

Paros

Beaches and transluscent marble

Ríneia

Island of birth, death and quarantine

Santoríni

Terrifying beauty

Schinoússa

Serifos

Island of iron, island of myth

Sifnos

Golden island of chefs

Sikinos

Small and authentic

Syros

Capital of the Cyclades

Thirasía

On the edge of Santoríni's caldera

Tinos

Pilgrims, wind, marble and dovecots

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Cedric B, GNU Commons License, Dan Diffendale, Evangelos Mpikakis on Unsplash, Marsyas, Creative Commons License, original image by Martin Dürrschnabel, sailko, Tilemahos Efthimiadis, Unknown authorUnknown author , Zde