Artemonas & SifNÓS ’ central villages
Taking its name from Artemis, the ancient Greek goddess of hunting, Artemonas stands out among the island’s villages for its architecture which combines traditional Cycladic houses with Neoclassical mansions. Less touristic than adjoining Apollonia, the island’s capital, this peaceful town is the ideal destination for an evening walk, its meandering paved alleyways taking you past whitewashed churches bathed in the soft light of the setting sun, bougainvillaea-cloaked houses with blue-painted doors and windows, hidden piazzas, age-old dovecotes, and stately mansions with lush gardens – the latter dating back to the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, a time when a number of ship owning families boosted the island’s culture and economy. Follow the narrow streets to the top of the hill, where a set of windmills await along with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Artemonas is part of a 7-village complex at the heart of the island that has been designated as “sites of outstanding natural beauty”. Apollonia, the liveliest of the group, combines vernacular beauty with charming boutiques, traditional cafés, rooftop restaurants and trendy bars; the drowsy village of Exabbela is the birthplace of the poet and academic Aristomenis Provelegios and Greece’s most influential chef Nikolaos Tselemendes; while the hilltop village of Kato Petali, built around the imposing blue-domed parish church of Zoodoxos Pigi (the Source of Life), takes you back in time with its traditional lifestyle.