The Byzantine capital of the island was built in the 13th century. Its former name was Agios Dimitrios and consisted of a fort built inside the cliff of Kakia Lagkada, with a single access point from the southwest. This is a narrow space and houses were built one on top of the other. According to the legend, there were some 70 churches but today only 21 remain. Located inside a cliff this city-castle could not be seen from anywhere, and especially from the sea, thus avoiding any attacks by pirates. However, in 1537, Hayreddin Barbarossa, a pirate that commanded the Ottoman fleet, resorted to cannons and managed to flatten the city, killing a large number of inhabitants and selling the rest as slaves.
Visiting Paleochora is a unique experience. This wild and silent area will prove a source of amazement and wonder for visitors. If we are to believe the inhabitants of Kythera, legends take body and soul during the night and you can hear the voices of the residents of Agios Dimitrios shrieking as the bombs launched by Barbarossa explode around them. The Byzantine architecture of the churches is quite surprising, the pièce de résistance being the temple of Agia Varvara, north of the city’s entrance. Watch the wild goats as they disregard the dangerous cliff rock while searching for food.
With the proper gear and if you’re looking for unique experiences, you can climb down the steep slope behind the church of Agia Varvara and walk along the cliff to the end. This is highly dangerous and you must be extremely careful.
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