Why Visit
The center of activities in Koufonisia island is Chora, a small village with picturesque Cycladic
architecture and few tourist facilities, including accommodation, fish taverns and lounge cafeterias.
Around Koufonisia, there are fabulous beaches with soft sand and exotic water. Accessible on foot,
by boat or bicycle, the beaches are perfect to relax. Pori, Italida and Fanos are only few of the many
fabulous beaches around the island. Due to the remote location and the limited visitors, most of the
beaches are also nudist.
History - Architecture
There is not much known about the early life and history of Koufonisia but according to the few
excavations that took place in Kato Koufonisi and Keros islet it was discovered that the island has
been inhabited since the pre-historic times. What is known so far has been garnered from the tombs
and other artifacts that have been found over a period of time. These artifacts date back to the Early
Cycladic, Roman and Hellinistic period.
The origin of the name Koufonisia has two versions. The first claimed that the name Koufonisia is
actually the ancient name given to the gulf between Koufonisia and Glaronisi. Koufos Limin means
Lee Port, where ships would anchor. Manesis supported this theory because there were a number of
caves without large rocks found on this island.
A third theory was propounded by Anthony Miliarakis saying that Pano Koufonisi was "Fakousa" and
Kato Koufonisia was "Pino". There was a lot of fighting between the Ottomans, the Venetians, the
Moors and of course, the Byzantine Empire. They fought over the Cyclades and on Koufonisia,
archaeologists found traces of the existence of the Moors, and a stone with an Arabic inscription was
found on Kato or Lower Koufonisia. Wild pirates and water borne bandits traipsed around the
Aegean Sea ever since the Greek Persian wars and this is where the name Koufonisia or Koufonisi is
found in the written language.
In the Medieval times, Koufonisia followed the history of the rest of the Cyclades islands. However,
they were very sparcely or not all all inhabited as they were frequently raided by pirates. Only in the
late 19th century, when piracy in the Aegean Sea was confronted by the Greek Navy, did few
inhabitants come to Koufonissia again.
Recent years
In 1830, the island of Koufonisia was free and became part of Greece. There were incidences of
residents joining the pirates either out of choice or for occupation. In the years that followed after
the Turks abandoned the island, it was found that the islands belonged to Amorgos, being under the
authority of the Hozoviotissa Monastery of Amorgos. The land was leased to peasants who gave
tribute to the monks in agricultural goods.
During World War II, at a time when cyclades were not considered important enough for the warring
countries to have a garriosn stationed there, Koufonisia was unaware of the ravages that the war left
behind and their only indication was the German war plane that crashed near the summer port of
present day. They found the German massacred bodies of the Italians washed up on the shores
whom they buried east of the village.
The end of the World War II saw the people of these islands turn to the sea for their daily food
requirement. Now came the era of artificial refrigeration and cheap motor boats which made fishing
activities relatively easier. The fish would then be transported in ice boxes to either Athens or Naxos
where the earnings were good. More peasants turned to fishing and soon the settlements on Kato
Koufonisia were abandoned for Ano Koufonissia. Here there were good harbors and the fishing
industry flourished.
Museums - Archeological
Koufonisia islands have been the centre of the Cycladic civilization, as revealed by many of its
archaeological finds, in the site of Pano Koufonisi. In the ancient site of Keros you can see exhibits of
major interest like hundreds of marble statuettes,among them is an imposing life size statue and the
figurines from the Cycladic period.
Today, one can find them at the Archaeological Museum of Athens and the Naxos Museum.
Excavation in Pano Mili have brought to light several vaulted tombs, ites from Hellenistic and Roman
times and paleochristian relics. Koufonisia is actually a museum itself offering a great range of
exhibits from various periods.
On July 2011, the mayor of Koufonisia set up a small folklore museum, on the site of the old
aqueduct, at the centre of the village. The museum focuses on the traditional and cultural heritage
of Koufonisia and many locals were involved in its creation. The small collection consists of items,
tools and a great photo archive from the old days.
Megali Ammos, Nero, Fanos, Pori, Caves before Pori, Finikas, Gala, Platia Pounda
Religious Monasteries and Churches
Both islands of Koufonisia complex have a few beautiful churches where you can find peace and
admire their rare icons. In the densely populated islet of Pano Koufonisi you will find the Church of
Agios Georgios, the saint protector of the island. Every year, a famous feast is held during Easter
and according to the tradition, one local passes around the icon to the entire island where streets
are filled with rose leafs.
Close to the port of Koufonisia lies the church of Agios Nikolaos and at the highest point of the
island stands the church of Prophet Elijah. In the neighboring island of Kato Koufonisi, above the
harbour dominates the church of Panagia. On August 15th celebrations are held in every part of
Greece, as well in Koufonisia, where locals and visitors arrive in hundreds to attend the church
service and enjoy the solemn atmosphere.