Hiking to ancient Vrougoúnda

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Going to Vrougoúnda was something I had wanted to do all summer. I heard so many stories about this place, that it had gained my curiosity. Perhaps the beach was really as spectacular as I’d heard, but most of all it was the feeling I wanted to get – the feeling of being somewhere far, far away from everything.

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The location of Vrougoúnda

On the northern part of the Greek island Karpathos there are plenty of villages and pretty sites to visit, but no asphalt road will take you there. To reach one of these amazing landscapes you’ll have to hike. Vrougoúnda is one of them. At the bay of Vrougoúnda, in the era of the Dorians, there was the thriving city Brykoúntos (or Vrykous), known as one of the four ancient cities of Karpathos. It still has a few ancient tombs and remains of the former city wall visible. You can even find an amazing church build inside a giant rock. Starting at the Karpatheon farmers village of Avlóna you initiate the hike to reach this historical place.

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A donkey at Avlóna

The village of Avlóna

After leaving Pigadia by car for about one hour we reach Avlóna. It feels like having to make hard decisions when you drive through the village of Avlóna and are not sure whether you should go left, right or straight up the hill into one of the dirt paths. Out of nothing a donkey appears. We can tell that he’s owned by someone as the rope marks the grass around the donkey. He seems curious and friendly, with his ears pointing towards us and winking a lot to take care of all those annoying flies. Jep, we’ve reached farmers land and it’s time to park the car.

On our way to find the perfect parking spot somewhere in Avlóna we basically see nobody. Also meaning, nobody to ask for directions. We drive into a couple of sildenafil online. As we step out a dog starts barking and we see some people waving from a distance. All seems okay as their greeting appears to be welcoming and we feel quite alright leaving our car behind over here to start the hike.

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Avlóna on the right

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An old stone crushing plant, which is not being used anymore

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Time for hiking. Off into the wilderness of the Greek island Karpathos.”

Into the middle of nowhere

We walk towards the old barn where a cobblestone avenue seems to be the beginning of our trail. Hoping that this is the road that will lead us to Vrougoúnda just like it led all the pilgrims over the years every August. From August 27 to 29 many people head towards the Agios Ioannis (Άγιος Ιωάννης) cave church for the festivities in honor of Saint John the Baptist. Unfortunately I haven’t had time yet to join this festival, but I hope one day I will.

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Thom & I, with Vrougoúnda in the background

A dry-stone wall embraces the path for a while until we reach a sign pointing towards a shields monument. We decide to perhaps visit it on our way back as it seems we still have quite a journey ahead of us.

A great downhill climb rests us, which right now appears to be a blessing but will be a pain in the ass when we have to climb all the way back up to reach Avlóna again.

About 40 minutes later it seems that we are standing right in the middle point of our hike. Every now and then we can hear the donkeys bray and it remains a mystery if they are close by or far away. We don’t see any other sign of life along the road and we are quite sure to be the only ones hiking this path today.

As we walk down the hill, following the red marks on the stones for the right path getting closer and closer to the beach, the stories I had heard started pinching me. The local people from Karpathos told me about things that happened and one of them even showed me a picture of a dead man who stranded on the beach of Vrougoúnda. He was found because his hand was sticking out of the sand of the beach, brrr… I hope I won’t make such discoveries today, even though it really is a deserted beach with a lot of possible mysteries.

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Where the trail ends and exploring begins…

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After a total hike of two hours with also taking a lot of pictures we reach the beach. It’s such a relief to spot the crystal clear water again. As we get closer and closer we keep on discovering things. The whole area is surrounded by old stone walls which must be part of the old city wall. The ancient tombs are on the left of the beach and we enjoy having a look. They seem quite big, which surprises me knowing that the Greeks aren’t tall people. Perhaps they used to leave the deceased’s personal belongings in the tombs as well and therefor needed more space. Unfortunately there aren’t many signs with descriptions or such, but the feeling you get by walking around gives enough. It’s almost as if you’re intruding someone’s home. Walking through Vrougoúnda gives you the feeling it was only recently abandoned. After passing the tombs an altar by the cliff amazes us and it’s the perfect place for a picnic. It is possibly the only place you can find in the shade.

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The view on the left-side when walking down to the beach

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Ancient tombs

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The beach

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The doctor from Vrycos

Upon arrival to the ancient plateau above the wild sea of Vrougoúnda we found a stone with inscriptions, in Greek as well as in vaguely written English. Here is my reading interpretation:

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!… son of …! From Vrycos, Proposed.
Memocritos, Metrodoros’ son, from Samos, a public doctor for more than twenty years, has always been curing everyone showing willingness and honesty,
and he had been faultless in both his professional ability and behaviour in general.
During the epidemic, when many people not only among the citizens but also among the foreigners who lived in the town were in danger, he became their saviour showing public spirit and disregarding fatigue.
Even before being employed by the town as its doctor, while living in ….. he saved many citizens from deadly diseases without pay,
and he would always visit the houses of the people at the outskirts in justice and good will.
For these reasons, and so as to show gratitude and to honour the good doctors, let the people of Vrycos after having approved this action, praise Memocritos, Metrodoros’ son from Samis, and crown him with a golden wreath and declare doring the Aescolapios Games:
” Vrycos people praise and crown Memocritos, Metrodoros’ son from Samos, with a golden wreath because of his experience and good nature”.
Furthermore let Memocritos be admitted to the festivities of the Vrycos people.
The money needed for the wreath will be paid by the treasurer immediately after the approval of this docres let the people elect a man: and let the elected man ask the assembly to give the wreath and put a stone in strait Neptune’s temple, and the stone write the docree with which the people of Vrycos have honoured Memocritos, Metrodoros’ son from Samos. The expenses for the wreath and the stone will be paid by the treasurer …… son of …. From Vrycos, has been elected.”

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By the time we get back to Avlóna and find our car to return to Pigadia we finally discover the original start of the hiking track to Vrougoúnda! An old and impressive looking fig tree surrounding an entrance with a stone-build wall, a sing saying Vrougoúnda in Greek and a red arrow pointing to the path. Next time we’ll start from here!

A place with many names and a lot of history. Vroukoúnta, Vrykoúnda, Vrykous or Brykoúntos, have you ever been there? What did you think about this place?

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Ever since I left my home country I felt at home at any other place I went to. I enjoy getting to know more cultures by talking to strangers and hearing their philosophy about life. Speaking with gestures when you can not find a shared language, finding places only the locals go to and learn about their customs and values. Hanging out with local people makes me happy. The experience of every new place is a step out of your comfort zone where I like to wander around until it feels like a second home.
2 Comments on “Hiking to ancient Vrougoúnda
  1. Hi Renate! I am so pleased to see your post! I am planning to be on Karpathos for the festival this year and am doing some research. Your post gives me a lot of information! Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Heya Susan! Thanks for your comment 🙂 I’m so happy to hear this was helpful to you! Let me know when you’re around in Karpathos this summer, I guess in September? You can find me at the dive center this summer, drop by any time for more information. Cheers! and Happy Travels. Renate

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