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Kea (Tzía)

Guarded by an ancient lion

Archaïc statue of a lion, Ioulida, island of Kea

Closest of all the Cyclades to Athens, Kéa, with its fine beaches, has for many years been a favourite place for Athenians to build their summer villas – the island can be reached from the metropolis in less than four hours, and it’s guaranteed to have no room on holiday weekends, when jeeps, dogs, boats and windsurfers pile off the ferries and the jet set sails over to Vourkári from Glyfáda in a flotilla of gin palaces; if you want to make a short stay, time it for midweek.

Kéa feels very different from the other Cyclades, with lush valleys and terraces of fruit trees, fields grazed by dairy cattle and grubbing pigs; since antiquity it has been famed for its fertility, its red wines, its lemons, honey and almonds. Its traditional architecture may lack the pristine white Cubism of its sister isles but there’s almost a touch of Tuscany about Ioulís, with its red-pantiled houses and higgledy-piggledy lanes.

History

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Cyclades

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by marc.desbordes, Michael Paraskevas, Phso2