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Kea (Greek: Κέα), also known as Gia or Tzia (Greek: Τζια), Zea, and, in antiquity, Keos (Greek: Κέως, Latin: Ceos) is located very near to Attica, in the westerner point of Cyclades. Kea or Tzia is a favourite destination for many Athenians and householders of ships.
After suffering depopulation for many decades, Kea has been recently rediscovered by Athenians as an ideal destination for weekends and yachting trips, impressing tourists with its quiet charm, as it is conveniently located only an hour away from the capital. With a perimeter of 85 kilometres and a total surface of 131 square kilometres, Kea is one of the biggest islands of Cyclades.
The island’s harbour abstains 40 miles from Piraeus port and 16 miles from Lavrion port. Kea is an island of many subtle charms, combining barren hills on one hand, and green valleys with orchards, olive groves, almond and oak trees, on the other. Home to one of the largest natural bays of the Mediterranean, the bay of Agios Nikolaos, it provides ample mooring spots and cozy accommodations.
The Lion of Kea, or Lionda, is one of the most celebrated sights on the island and consists of an archaic structure carved out of stone. As legend tells us, Kea was once known as the Water Island and was given the name Ydroussa and was considered the home of water Nymphs. Due to its exceptional beauty, the Gods were positively jealous of the island and summoned a lion down to ravage it of its beauty, which proceeded to drive all the Nymphs out of the island and leave it dried out. However, the story goes to tell that the locals, with the aid of Apollon’s son, constructed a temple in honor of Zeus, which was well received by the deity, who restored the nymphs back to Kea.
The island’s capital, Ioulis, was established inland at a high altitude, as most ancient Cycladic settlements were, in an effort to defy piracy. The city is indeed charming and worthy of visitors, especially in August, when Panagia, one of the main festivals takes place in the main square (or platia). It is a time for celebrating in all the Greece where tourists take advantage of a great cuisine, and dancing events.
The village of Vourkari, nested in the northern area of Kea island with just a few dozens of local residents is another landmark of the island. Equally picturesque is Korissia (also called Livadi), the port of Kea. Built on the natural harbour and the ruins of the ancient port and the old coastal town, the place is impressive for many reasons. One of its most enchanting aspects is the port used to hold the statue of Kouros, an ancient monument dating to the 6th century BC, which can now be admired at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
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