Chalkí - Apáno Kástro - Potamiá -  Agios Mámas - Káto Potamiá

Evaluation: This is one out of the hikes running along the beautiful valley of Potamiá (see e.g. Mélanes – Koúroi – Potamiá – Agios Mámas or Mélanes - Koúroi – Potamiá - Chalkí). The landscape next to Apáno Kástro is truly impressive, the green valley along the three villages of Potamiá is marvellous, especially in Spring time; in addition, the spot surrounding the Byzantine chapel of Agios Mámas radiates a really unique atmosphere. Just like many other hikes on the island of Náxos, also this one deserves an evaluation of ***. 
[Update by Raymond  on 22 and 26 September 2011 and on the 24th of March 2014.]

Estimated time: The actual hiking time takes about one hour to Ano Potamiá, then half an hour to Káto Potamiá, and another 20 minutes till Agios Mámas. Finally, the stretch back to the asphalt road above Káto Potamiá takes another 20 minutes. This makes for a total of 2h15 actual walking time, but in order to have a relaxed trip you should, as usual, allow for twice as long. Beforehand, you can pay a visit to the village of Chalkí, if you have not done so earlier. You can have lunch on the wonderful outdoor terrace of I Pigí in Ano Potamiá. To return to Chóra there are sometimes busses via Potamiá (do not forget to get some information in advance!), or you could call a taxi. You can also go back to Chalkí on foot, but also in this case you should inquire about the hours of the busses beforehand.

Route description: [If you come from Chóra by bus, you can see the church of the Panagía i Evangelístria i Protótronos opposite the spot where you get off the bus: this church contains some beautiful wall paintings and especially a marvellous ikonostási; unfortunately though, the church is usually closed.]

The Panagía i Evangelístria in Chalki.

(0h00) Leaving from the bus stop and the church you follow the narrow street opposite the church, in between a shop and the pharmacy (hiking sign Drosianí / Moní 1h05 + [4]). After about 60-70 metres you get to the distillery Vallándris; this "ergostásio kítrou" or "working place where kitron is produced" is one of the distilleries of Naxos where this famous lemon drink is made. The working place is worth a visit and you can buy all kinds of varieties of this tasty drink…

Opposite Vallándris you take a narrow street on the right [4] and after 150 meters – where the pavement turns into concrete – you take a left on the first street (red dot), then immediately right (red dot and [5]) and then immediately left again ([5] and a walking sign to Apáno Kástro). In this way you leave the village and you arrive at a nicely paved path between walls and olive trees. One minute further you arrive at a junction: you go straight ahead (red arrow to the left and [5]).

[If you do not have enough time to pay a visit to Agios Geórgios O Diassorítis on another occasion, you can first take a right (sign) and after 3 minutes you go left  for 1 more minute. Afterwards, you can return the same way you came...]

A little further on you walk on a beautiful sunken road.

The path between Chalkí and Tsikalarió.

You continue on a nice path between walls and olive fields and go walk through a gate made of pallets [5]. Further on you go through yet another gate made of reinforcing steel. After 5 minutes you continue across a fairly broad and stony river bed, under a plane tree, and you arrive in a landscape dotted with pale rocks.

(0h11) The trail continues on the opposite side of the river bed ([5], red dot and blue arrow). After another two minutes you reach a stony road which you follow to the left for a while. Then you take a right (sign and dots, [5]); the road soon turns into a nice and wide path again.
Past a little concrete bridge the monopáti is paved and it climbs until you reach a small square with the little church of Tsikalarió – after about 6-7 minutes. On the right you notice a well and a washing place. At this point you have a great view on the valley filled with olive trees, with Damariónas on the opposite side. Further to the left you can distinguish the larger village of Filóti and then Chalkí, all the way to the left and submerged in olive trees.

[To the left, you notice the beginning of walk [7] – hiking sign Sagrí 1h50.]

The little white church of Tsikalarió.

(0h18) You continue diagonally to the right into the village, on a paved street (hiking sign Apáno Kástro 35’ / Potamiá 55’), and 30 meters further you keep to the left [5] – and so you walk through the village. After a few minutes the street turns into a concrete road and you already leave the village, while keeping to the left [5]. Some 5 minutes later  you arrive at a height and you can see your path continuing in front of you, with a beautiful view of the Apáno Kástro (sign and dots). You now proceed in a landscape with large boulders and you walk between stables.

(0h26) After another 7-8 minutes, there is a little side trail to the left, between rocks: it leads to a necropolis of the 8th century B.C.

[If you follow this vague trail, that fortunately is marked by a lot of cairns, you will get to the base of a circular wall. This detour is also interesting, because you find yourself here in the middle of a real lunar landscape and because you enjoy a perfect sight on the Apáno Kástro.
Afterwards, you return in 7 minutes to the concrete road.]

The beginning of the trail to the necropolis.

Back on the main path, you then come to a sandy road, but almost immediately you take a left and you continue on the path that runs on the right of a wall.

(0h30) You walk through a gate made of metal remains: the trail is grassy, then sandy and it continues on the right of a wall; further on,  there is also a very beautiful passage between the wall and large boulders, with the Kastro Apáno in front of you.

The path continues in a rocky landscape...

You then reach an nice stretch on worn away rocks and finally you arrive under a high wall, with to the left the simple church of Agios Pandeleďmonas.

[Through a breach in the wall and a little gate, you can arrive at the tiny church – a little bit further there is a sign "Kástro Tsikalarioú".
If you would like to climb closer to the ruins of the Venetian Castel d'Alto (in Greek Apáno Kástro), can go up from here. From the church you can find a vague path that goes up fairly easily in the direction of the sinking between the two peaks. When you come close to a retaining wall, you go left; in this way you reach a sort of plateau, underneath the highest peak. The view is already beautiful – but thereafter it really becomes very difficult to continue to climb ...]

The Apáno Kástro.

(0h37) You go back through the breach and then you take a left on the path along the wall. You then follow the wall for quite a long time; there are red dots, and you should not mind the cairns on the right. So you keep walking beneath the kástro, you climb a little and far away you can even distinguish Chóra. After 4-5 minutes you go through a gate, soon thereafter you arrive between two walls and then you walk on the left of a remarkable rock.

A remarkable rock on your right.

(0h47) You get to the right of a restored chapel dedicated to Agios Andréas - it is open, strangely enough, because inside there are some really interesting frescoes from the 13th century.

Some frescoes in the chapel of Agios Andréas.

You continue on the right of the chapel, and shortly thereafter the path is nicely paved: you may continue to walk on the large curbs, the remains of an old kalderími. Further on, it is better to follow the path to the left of the curbstones. After another 3-4 minutes the curbs bend to the right, the old road makes a curve to the left and passes a little bridge, and the road veers to the left and to the right, towards a gravel road.

(0h53) You thus arrive at this gravel road, where you take a left (red arrow and dot); you curve to the right and you follow the road for 7-8 minutes. Far away, in front of you, there is the village and the white church of Mési Potamiá. After a steep descent on concrete, you get to the main road and you cross this road - a blue bench invites you to take some rest and to enjoy the view over the beautiful valley of Ano, Mési and Káto Potamiá.

(1h01) Opposite the concrete road, you can go down in the valley on a little concrete road (red dot and [5] on a pole), which later turns into a concrete staircase on the left; the steps meander to the right and the left, and after 3 minutes the staircase reaches a little square with a fountain (the Platia Filothéou Orfanoú) – the name of the street is now Odos Nikoláou Orfanoú. You are in Ano Potamiá and you get here to the itinerary of walk [6].

To continue you have to take a left at this point, into the Odós Giampoúra. It is really worthwhile though, to first go up on the right, through the village. After about three minutes you get to the marvellously shaded and large terrace of the tavern I Pigí. In front there is a well with plenty of water and higher up to the right you can see the large, modern church of Agios Ioánnis Theológos.

[On the right of this church and across the asphalt road you find the beginning of the marvellous trail to the Koúroi (see the hikes from Mélanes).]

(1h07) After a possible break, you return to the Platía Orfanoú. There, you continue straight ahead, in the Odós Giampoúra ([6] and hiking sign Káto Potamiá 40' / Agios Mámas 1 hour) and after two minutes you go down, keeping to the right for a while. You then get to a wonderful spot: the path arrives in a narrow valley along a stream and to the left of the restored water mill “Nerómylos tou Grylláki.

(1h14) You take a left [6] and the path follows a stream full of water (19th of May 2004 and 22nd of September 2011), with little bridges, benches and lots of shade. At the second bridge you keep to the right (sign).

You can take a left or a right - this walk follows the upper path (right)...

[This walk follows some paths that run higher in the valley. If you prefer to follow the bed of the river, you can follow another of the two walks from Ano to Káto Potamiá…]

You thus keep to the right and go up until you get next to a chapel – you get to a concrete lane, which you follow to the left (sign). Then you go down on a beautiful path, in the direction of the church of Mési Potamiá; after about three minutes you pass this church deep underneath. You continue to follow the paved main road straight ahead – it is painted in white all the way. For the next couple of minutes you walk on a concrete path, which runs horizontally – you do NOT descend further to the left, in the direction of Pýrgos Kókkou (sign). You thus pass underneath the school of Mési Potamiá.

(1h24) You continue straight ahead (there is another sign on the left pointing to Pýrgos Kókkou): for a short while you now follow a marvellously paved trail; you then continue for a couple of minutes horizontally, above the valley with olive trees.

The nice path between Mési and Káto Potamiá.

Some five minutes later there is another sign on the left pointing to Pýrgos Kókkou. At this point you have to take a right on a concrete path.

[It is really worthwhile to make a small detour here, and to first go down on the left, in the direction of Pýrgos Kókkou and Néo Perivóli. In this way you can have an even better view on the fertile valley with lemon and orange trees. After 6-7 minutes you reach a house, where there is a junction to the right (note the sign Néo Perivóli). Immediately thereafter you get to a valley with a beautifully constructed trail – there are small bridges, plenty of water and also some oleanders.

The path to Néo Perivóli.

About three minutes later you thus arrive at a wonderful garden (the "perivóli") – through the open door you can even take a quick glance inside…

Néo Perivóli.

You then go back and after three minutes you take a left at the house; some 6-7 minutes later you obviously take another left on the main trail in order to continue.]

By following the concrete path (sign Káto Potamiá / Agios Mámas) you reach Káto Potamiá after about two-three minutes. Straight ahead you can see the church with its marvellous front garden; a large eucalyptus tree provides lots of shade and there is also a concrete bench – quite a nice picnic-spot.

(1h33) You can take a rest for a while and then you have to return slightly because the road to Agios Mámas starts BEFORE you get to the church, on the LEFT (sign + [6]). You thus go down on the left into the valley, you cross an irrigation gutter and after about two minutes you cross the stream, which is bordered with oleanders, on a concrete bridge. You then go up again on an earth, than concrete or tiled path. Another 3 minutes further down you keep to the right (there is a red arrow) and you continue for a while on a truly beautiful, narrow trail above the valley. After a few minutes you reach a recent gravel road that you follow straight on, but a little further and in a right turn, the trail continues straight (and you do not take the path that goes up to the left!).This trail describes a wide bend to the left. After ten minutes at last you suddenly notice the ruins of the little church of Agios Mámas, on the opposite side of the valley. On the right above these ruins you can see the remnants of the episcopal palace. You now descend fairly steeply for about one minute, you cross another little stream by stepping on some rocks in the water, and you continue on a gravel road on the left. After barely ten metres you take a right:  the dirt road zigzags right and left, but after a second right turn, you take a LEFT ([6] on a rock) to continue on a few fields. You thus arrive at the left side of the church and you should now climb some terraces to get to the terrace where the church itself stands. (1h53)

The church of Agios Mámas dates from the 9th century and it is usually open; you might even discover some frescos inside.


Agios Mámas

In order to continue your walk, you should return down to the left side of the church: you veer to the right on a vague trail and you get in this way BEHIND the church. You proceed through a narrow valley and arrive to the left side of the “palace” and the remnants of what used to be the Summer residence of the catholic bishop. It has now been turned into a neglected farm, with some chickens, a couple of goats and lots of Greek junk. Above an old door you can read the following inscription:

Ant.s Justinianus archiep NaxoPariensis
has supernas aedes ad sui successorumq. usum
propriis sumptibus erigi curavit Ano Dni 1707.

"Antonius Justianianus, archbishop of the islands of Naxos and Paros had this palace constructed at his own expense, for the convenience of himself and his successors, in the year of our Lord 1707".

The "palace" of the archbishop...

This deserted spot radiates an atmosphere of lost glory – which events have taken place at this lonely place, in earlier days…?

(1h55) You leave by taking the earth road that continues to the west, between the "palace" and a big reservoir; after 100 metres you go sharply to the right and by describing a large bend you thus arrive easily at the river in about eight minutes.

(2h02)  You climb up for one more minute, you walk for another eight minutes on a magnificent trail above the valley. Next, when Káto Potamiá is visible already, you go down on the left on a small concrete path. You get to a bridge and you climb up for another minute to reach the church.

You go to the left, until you get behind the church; about ten metres further you find a tiled little street, which you follow up to the right. You continue on the main street (there is a small gutter in the middle of this road) – the final stretch is in concrete. You thus get to the asphalt road. (2h16)

At this point you can either wait for the bus (only in Summer) or call a taxi.


To get the printer-friendly version
with only the text
 in one column,
click here.