Ios Greece or "Little Malta" as it's called by sailors because its port is protected from the wind.
Ios is one of the southernmost Cycladic islands . The highest mountain is Pirgos, 713m in height, located in the center of the island. The warmest months are July and August (average temperature 28C). although due to the northerly wind called the Meltemi, Ios weather is pleasantly cool.
And there you are, leaning upon the bulwark gazing at the natural harbor of the Aegean and the second most popular area on the island, Ormos,known as Yialos among locals. At the marina, traditional fish boats are leaving for the open sea in the morning and in the evening, fishermen are coming back with their nets full.
Chora, which is situated right next to Ormos, is a typical island town, with Cycladic whitewashed houses that contrast with the blue sky, winding narrow stone paved streets leading to chapels, windmills, and yards. If you take a walk in the evening hours, you will find out that the three main squares are so overcrowded that you may lose your way in the small side streets. The windmills, on the slope above Chora, offer you another good excuse to show off your new camera.
According to the tradition,Ios Greece is believed to be the homeland of Homer's mother, while it is speculated that the great poet died and was buried here.
The island was emigrated by Ions and later became a part of the Athenian Alliance. In the beginning of the 13th century, Ios Greece was conquered by the Venetians who built the castle in Chora the very next century.
Exploring Chora means, first of all, walking. Choose a cool morning,wear your most comfortable shoes and get ready to set off. One hour is enough for the ones who just want to have a look at this whitewashed village, perched on the slope of the hill between the port and Mylopotas. The more demanding ones will need the whole morning to discover the hidden beauty of Chora. That's becauseChora was built up for the sun and it's the sun that reveals the village to the visitor or hides it from him.
To go up to Chora, just follow the wide stone steps of the old ascending road that comes from the port. On your way, right before entering the village, you will come across a part of the walls that once surrounded the ancient town. Following the same road you reach the first square of Chora. To your right stands the modern Orthodox Cathedral of the island, named Evangelismos (Annuciation) and, nearby, a church dedicated to St. Ekaterini, where in 1903 an excavation unearthed the remnants of Byzantine foundations and the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. Above these ruins the Christians built the Byzantine Cathedral,whose altar rests upon two of the temple's columns.
To your right there is the marketplace and the two main roads that lead you across the village and to the square of the mills. Following the road that goes up, you reach the second square of the village, with its four cafes. On the left side coming from this square, the stone steps lead to the old castle of Chora, where the sublime church of Panaghia Gremiotissa (Our Lady of the Cliffs) is situated, built during the years of the Turkish occupation. According to one tradition, an icon of the Virgin was found among the rocks of Mylopotas' seashore, with a lit candle standing on it. The legend has it that the inhabitants of Crete had thrown the icon in the open sea to protect it from falling to Turkish hands, and that the waves had carried it to that coast. The icon was then taken to the church of the HolyCross, but only to be found again the following morning on the same steep mountainside. When the islanders tried to build a new church for the icon, but not on the exact spot where it had been foundbecause of its inaccessibility, the foundation stones of the church kept disappearing every day in a miraculous way.
It was only then that the islanders understood that the icon had chosen that exact spot, because it was the only one from where the dim shape of Crete could be viewed. On this piece of rough land they built the new church, known today as Gremiotissa, with its miraculous icon. A little beyond this church you can see the ruins of the castle walls and enjoy the magnificent view of the port and of Vigla. If you walk towards the northern side of the castle, you will come across the ancient walls again. On the other side of the market area, the square with the old windmills is a centre of commercial activity and a meeting place for the local festivals. Today, because of a complicated system of private ownership, the square remains undeveloped, used only as a parking space, but we hope that the efforts of the local authorities will soon pay off, so that the inhabitants and the visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic view from a reorganised square. From the square of the mills, you can follow the narrow street that goes up to Prophitis Elias. A path of 500m., with magnificent view to Chora and to Mylopotas, leads you to the church of Prophitis Elias. In periods of water shortage, a procession with icons and banners is made along this path towards the church.