The island of Kythira is nowadays a municipality in the Greek administrative region of Attica. It is located at the very bottom of the eastern tip of Peloponnese. Since Homer, Kythira has been known in ancient times for its worship of the goddess Aphrodite. This goddess is probably of Eastern origin, and was brought to Greece by the Phoenicians in the 10th century BC. The first temple for this goddess was – at least according to Pausanias – on the island of Kythira. The connection with the Phoenicians was also known in ancient times. Xenophon mentions a “Phoenician bay” (prob. the harbor at Avlemonas).

During the Peloponnesian wars, Athens occupied the island several times to serve as a base against the Spartans. In Hellenistic times, Kythera was independent for a time; the island was given as a private property to Gaius Julius Eurycles under Emperor Augustus, the same Eurycles who decorated Sparta and Corinth with numerous buildings. The island is believed to have been abandoned in the early Middle Ages, when Arabs and Slavs raided the island several times. After the Fourth Crusade, Kythira became one of the ports of transit for the Venetians. Very little remains ancient Kythera. The archaic city was located near Skandeia near modern Avlemonas. The acropolis (Paliokastro) has been extensively explored. It has some remains of the temple of Aphrodite Ourania, although difficult to access and controversial. Remains of the Byzantine and Venetian periods are easier to find. Very interesting are the remains of the medieval settlement of Paliochora, with numerous (closed) churches (photos left). Almost equally interesting are the remains of a medieval settlement by Mylopotamos (bottom), where you can also visit a stalactite cave with a Byzantine chapel.


The Aphrodite temple at Skandeia is almost inaccessible; access to the acropolis is through a goat shed (across the fence!), after which some climbing leads to a medieval church with antique columns. These columns, along with some stone blocks about 200 m. away, are the only remains of this once important sanctuary. The photos in the slide show offer the acropolis of Skandeia with the bay of Avlemonas, the little church and the antique columns and other architectural elements.