About Kalymnos

The island of Fishermen and Sponge Divers

Kalymnos is an island of the Dodecanese in the southeastern Aegean. It has an area of 110,581 square kilometers making it the 26th largest Greek island. It has a population of approximately 16,000 residents.

The land on the island is mountainous with small stony plains (most important of these are the valleys of Pothia, Vathi and Panormos) total area of 109 square kilometers.

The mountains of Kalymnos are treeless with major peaks those of Prophet Elias, right in the center of the island (760 m.), Kyra High or Kyrapsili (700 m.) to the South-East and "Galatiani" in the North-Western end.

The coast of Kalymnos is relatively steep forming numerous headlands, bays and ports. Of these the most important are, the capital of the island which is named Port Pothea (South-East), Rina to the North, Pezonta even farther north, the Bay Palionisos, North – North-East, Emporios to the West – North-West, Linaria farther South and Pithari to the south.



Nautical Museum of Kalymnos

The Nautical Museum of Kalymnos which was founded in 1994 reveals to its visitors the nautical tradition of the island, the history and methods of the sponge fishing, and many items from wrecks of ancient ships. In the four rooms of the museum there are exhibits including objects related to the profession of sponge fishing and sponge treatment.

The first room contains some old photographs from the early 20th century of the main town and the events and festivities that were held during the departure of the sponge fisheries, stone, lead and iron anchors, navigational charts 16th-17th century finds from shipwrecks, stone cannonballs, ship riggings, naval lanterns, ornamental dishes with naval scenes and miniature boats.

In the second and third room there are sponge fishing accessories from the beginning of the early 19th century to today, such as "skandalopetra" (sinking stones used by divers) navigational instruments (sextant, compass, barometer, miliometer), protective suits and air pumps. Also exhibited in these rooms are tools used in the treatment of sponges and shells.

In the last room there are traditional costumes, dishes, scarves, musical instruments, antique furniture, linens, pillows, textiles, textile accessories, items for the fermentation of bread and jugs.


Sea Findings Museum

It is a private museum, a life’s work of the Valsamidis Brothers born and living in Kalymnos. With love for the sea and with a willingness to share their joys and wealth with the people, they built this museum with great personal effort by themselves. They worked as architects, as builders, as collectors, as designers never ceasing their favorite activity, diving. The result is impressive.

The findings, which come from thousands of dives in the seas of the entire world, include almost anything one can find at the sea’s bottom. Large varieties of fish, shells, shellfish, starfish, coral, sharks, and of course turtles and all kinds of sponges are among the exhibits. Part of the museum is dedicated to the art of sponge fishing and includes all the tools and diving equipment used by divers from 1872 until today. At the entrance of the museum there is an impressive oversized iron anchor.

In a separate wing of the museum there are finds from the First and Second World War such as torpedoes, pieces of airplanes etc.  Amphorae of the 6th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd century BC  are kept in a specially designed exhibit area.

There is also a collection of about 2,000 photographs related to the history and tradition of sponge fishing. At the museum the visitor has the opportunity to see firsthand the process of sponge treatment and preparation.  Also, within the museum, operates a store where you can purchase sponges, corals, shells ... and shark teeth.


Archeological Museum of Kalymnos

Upon entering the exhibition visitors are briefly introduced to the history of the island and led to a room with separate objects, which are products of illegal excavations or products handed to the Department of Antiquities– in other words their origin is unknown - the most important of all these exhibits is the bronze ritual object with a colonnette on which there is a constitution of Egyptian deities. There is an exhibit area with statues unearthed during excavations in pits of the Temple of Apollo Dali.

Worth visiting are the two galleries and the first floor of the museum. The first section refers to prehistoric life on the island, with finds from excavations in caves (tools, utensils, pots, etc.), finds from the Minoan period -such as a bronze worshiper - and in a separate showcase a large marble Cycladic idol which was confiscated and with probable origin that of Amorgos.

A special section refers to the most important religious and political center of ancient Kalymnos, the sanctuary of Apollo Dali and the two pits in which many offerings were found like written craters, a bronze griffin, clay tributes in the form of cattle, a rare robed kouros from 530 BC with painted decoration and a dedicatory inscription.

Also visitors can admire the many marble sculptures of the classical era depicting Apollo, young nude male figures, figures of small children, the Health goddess, Athena and the huge Asclepius (2nd century BC). The section closes with inscriptions that give valuable insight into the public life of the inhabitants, honorary decrees, evidence of the position of women and the releasing of slaves.

Silver and bronze coins of Kalymnos and Kos as well as from other foreign cities are presented in the second room, which mainly includes the findings of the ancient settlement Damos which was developed in the Hellenistic era. The finds include sculpted lamps, incense burners, model altars, figurines and metal tools.

Another section is dedicated to the Kalymnian necropolis and to the valuable findings that emerged from the excavations, such as gold jewelry, diadems, collars, ear tags, rings and patches of dead fabric, but also pottery and glass works. Dominating the room is the bronze statue of a woman covered with a tunic and a fringed garment and other bronze parts of sculptures which were recovered from the seabed (a ruler’s head with a hat, the legs of a man riding a horse with ornate sandals and spurs and the dolphin).


The Kalymnian Home

This is a private folklore museum created on the initiative of Mrs. Faneromeni Scylla. It is located on the road to Vothynous at the junction with the road leading to the monastery of St. Savvas of Kalymnos.

Its exhibits date back to the late 19th and early 20th century. The collections of items including traditional costumes and old household items reconstruct the atmosphere of the daily life of families during that era.

The visitor comes into contact with a piece of living history and is informed of the worldview, customs and attitudes of members of a traditional island society and the lives of the Kalymnian spongedivers.


Mountain Climbing in Kalymnos

The diversity of beaches, steep cliffs and the mild climate make the island ideal for climbers. For climbers who have traveled, the rock of Kalymnos resembles that of Thailand. Kalymnos is regarded by most climbers as the best destination for climbing. The limestone, the climbing of the stalactites and the many caves have contributed to the characterization of Kalymnos as one of the most beautiful locations "in the world of climbers", by magazines such as Vertical, Klettern, Climbing and Desnivel.

There are about 60 fields with sports climbing routes mainly with the level of difficulty ranging from 4-9, which is easily accessible by trails. Most of the tracks of "one rope" are between 20 and 30 meters. However, there are trails of "one rope" that reach 50-60 metres.  For the opening of routes on the island modern materials are used mainly stainless steel which is regularly maintained. The majority of routes are located in the western / northwestern part of the island.

There is also the island of Telendos (or Telentou) where more and more routes are created focusing on tracks with "many ropes" of different heights.  In Kalymnos about 100-150 new routes are opened every year by Greek and foreign climbers. Currently the island has more than 2000 organized routes. 10 years ago a climbing festival was organized on the island known as the Kalymnos Rock Climbing Festival. The fourth time it was held in May 2009, it brought together over 300 participants from fifteen countries.


Caves of Kalymnos

There are four caves of unique beauty and value which are worth visiting...

  • The Cave of Kefala
  • The Cave of Skalia
  • The Cave of the Seven Virgins which is also called The Cave of the Nymphs or The Cave of Flaskas
  • The Cave Daskalio