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The second largest island of the Dodecanese lies between Rhodes and Crete. It is rather rectangular in shape and its terrain is mountainous. A mountain range separates the north from the south part of the island, and most of its settlements are to be found on the south coast, which is relatively flat.

Karpathos' capital and main port is Pigadia or Karpathos on the southeast coast. It was built primarily with funds sent home by immigrants living abroad and it does not reflect the local architectural style found in the older villages.

Southwest of the capital is Menetes, a picturesque, unspoilt village, the history of which started after the Middle Ages, and further west is Arkassa which has been identified as the site of ancient Arkesia. Here the ruins of a Christian Basilica of 5th/6th c. A.D. can still be seen.

The mountain villages Aperi, Volada, Othos and Pyles are mountain villages, still off the tourist track, but with tavernas and traditional greek cafes (called cafeneia), where you can enjoy your coffee.

Further north, near the west coast, is Messohori, where there is a genuine Karpathian house open to the public. Note its characteristic wooden ornamentation and the pebble mosaic floor.

Still further north, almost cut off from the rest of the island is its most important village, Olimbos, which is accessible only from Diafani, Karpathos' second port.

Olimbos, a living museum, sits on a hillside overlooking the Aegean. Founded sometime between the 10th and 15th century, it was originally fortified to afford its residents protection from the pirates. The highest spot in the village used to be crowned with a tower. Even today Olimbos has preserved its local architecture intact, both in the interiors and exteriors of the houses.

Its citizens take pride in maintaining their traditions and still speak a dialect which contains several Dorian words and idioms. Women still wear their traditional costumes, and preserve the traditional methods of grinding and baking. Don't miss the local speciality, makarounia (handmade noodles), served at the tavernas.

Karpathos, however, is not only for those interested in ethnology; it also has many beautiful beaches: the long sandy beach of Vronti bay, the golden beach of Amopi, the superb beaches of Lefkos, Ahata, Kyra-Panagia and Apella to the east,Finiki and Amfiarti to the southwest, Makriyialos to the southeast, Agia Irini on the west coast, and others.

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