AEGEAN AND EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN
The Crossroads of History
March Through November 2017
(Links in Underlined Teal Text)
A crewed charter yacht sailing excursion aboard a proper yacht cruising among the southern Dodecanese Islands of Greece tracing a part of the fourth of Saint Paul's journeys in the eastern Mediterranean, his path from Knidos to Crete. Taken prisoner by Romans in Jerusalem circa AD58, Paul spent the next two years in captivity at Caesarea Maritima (in Israel between Haifa and Tel Aviv). Placed in the custody of a Roman centurion en route to Rome in the summer of AD60, perhaps accompanied by Saint Luke, they found passage on a galley bound for Asia Minor by way of Sidon. "And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary."* Rowing in the lee of Cyprus and then against the prevailing west wind, the ship made port at Andriake (Myra) on what is now the south coast of Turkey. There Paul and his companions transshipped, taking passage with two hundred seventy-odd others plus a heavy load of bulk or sacked grain in an Egyptian grain carrier bound for Italy. Again fighting the W-NW wind which there hugs the coast they came in late-summer to Knidos (Cnidus) where "the wind (the Meltemi) not suffering us, we sailed under Crete.*
Kos Town, Kos. Kos is a convenient rendezvous an hour by air from Athens. One of the green Dodecanese islands, it was a waypoint during Paul's return to Jerusalem from his third journey through Asia Minor and into Greece. It was earlier the birthplace of Hippocrates, and the third century BC Asclepion school of medicine founded in his memory is impressive. The fortress in Kos Town built by the Hospitaller Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem as well as the nearby ancient agora are also worth visits. Port of Entry bounded in the Spring by hibiscus and rose laurel. Otto e Mezzo Ristorante in the Turkish quarter near the Mehmet Pasha minaret is a credit to the best part of Italian rule between 1912 and 1943.
Knidos (new Knidos). Sounds Greek but is Turkish, a clear-water cove and ancient shipping haven at the tip of the Doric Peninsula fifteen miles from Kos Town. Triopian cliffs flush in rosemary and myrtle provide cover from the prevailing wind. Ruins at the water's edge include theater (at left), stoa, and several early Christian basilicas. The port to which old Knidos moved circa 365 BC and at which St. Paul's captors fell off the wind in the summer of AD 60, thereafter sailing for Italy by way of Crete rather than the preferred route across the Aegean from Samos. Great swimming. A "must" visit.
Pali, Nisiros. A possible waypoint when falling off the wind but when still uncertain whether to proceed by way of Crete or the northern Aegean. Ten sailing miles from Knidos, the Roman settlement at Pali was famous in antiquity for hydrotherapeutic hot springs and later for the adjacent chapel. The island's verdant exterior and quaint rim-villages mask a volcanic history, as well, not to mention a crater floor still steaming in places. A visit to the ancient city of Nisiros is recommended. Its Classical Period walls are among the finest in Greece though built by Mausolus of Caria. From ancient Nisiros it is a hop, skip, and jump to the 14th Century Church of the Panayia Spiliani within a castle of the same vintage. Fine dining at Taverna Aphrodite including a pluperfect octopus in vinegar.
Livadhia, Tilos. A more likely waypoint once deciding to make for Crete, seventeen miles off the wind from Knidos. A grain carrier the size of Paul's would make no more than forty nautical miles on a good day. And that day may not have been a good one. Today Tilos is a delightful hearkening back to what Greek islands were like before discovery by tourists. Sidle a precipice to the fortified 15th century monastery of Agios Pandeleimon (next photo) set in a copse thick with cypress. See a museum of pleistocene dwarf elephants (when Tilos became an island six million years ago, resident mastodons devolved on lesser fare into dwarf elephants) in Megalo Chorio. Taverna Michalis near the church of Saint Pandeleimon (not the monastery) often features lamb or pork on the spit.
Emborio, Khalki. Seventeen miles off the wind from Tilos and another possible waypoint for a lumbering grain ship in the habit of beaching at night. A panoply of pastels including the 16th Century Church of Saint Nicholas surrounded by a mosaic courtyard. Another castle willed by the Knights of Saint John, this one with a striking view from on high and with a remarkable fresco of St. Nicholas at sea. Sand beaches. Superb dining at Taverna Aura. Wonderful ice cream at Theodosia's.
Tristoma, Karpathos. A normally tranquil anchorage at the head of a long bay thirty-five miles SSW of and off the wind from Khalki. Most probably a waypoint for Saint Paul's grain carrier as it is a secure location at which to disgorge 276 crew and passengers for a night ashore. A temple of Poseidon forms the foundation of the church of St. Nicholas. Tourists unlikely. Ancient Brykous, one of the earliest settlements on Karpathos, is nearby. Brykous lies within extensive pre-Christian walling much of which remains. There are also tombs dating from the classical period and an early Christian basilica. The cave chapel of Ayios Ioannis is on 19 August the scene of the festival of St. John the Headless.
Pighadia, Karpathos. A bustling metropolis of 1,700 friendly islanders twenty-nine miles south of Tristoma, many of the islanders active sponge divers, others expatriates home for the holidays. Developed for tourists who failed to arrive. Four kilometers of sandy beach close by a harbor easily accommodating a galley the size of Paul's. Airport connections with Rhodes, Crete, and Athens. Caique and bus connections to Olimbos where residents speak in a Dorian dialect pre-dating Paul's passage. In Olimbos the women still wear brightly embroidered skirts, waistcoats, and scarves from a bygone era.
Ophris, Kasos. The island of Kasos is quite attractive with sometimes spectacular scenery, but is nevertheless the end of the world unless headed for Crete. Ophris is twenty miles downwind of Pighadia and just as undiscovered by tourists. The harbor in Roman times was a natural rest stop for shipping headed to Crete. Traces of Roman occupation within 200 meters of the harbor. Partly visible but as yet unexcavated remains of an early Christian basilica. Several fine tavernas serving superior octopus in vinegar.
Cape Salmone, Crete. Landfall in Crete for the grain ship carrying St. Paul to Rome. The anchorage here, Finikodasos (meaning palm grove), is thirty-four off the wind miles from Kasos.
Ierepetra, Crete. Thirty-eight miles west of Cape Salmone, Ierepetra was a safe harbor during the Pax Romana, as it was during the Minoan centuries and as it is today. Though not mentioned in Luke's account of Paul's journey a prisoner to Rome, it is not unlikely the ship paused here. Venetian fortress dating from the Fourth Crusade sack of Constantinople. Good tavernas. Bus connections to Iraklion (Candia) and Knossos.
Kali Limenes, Crete. Kali Limenes means Good Harbor, where Paul "came unto a place called The Fair Havens." * Situated on the east side of Cape Litinos, the fair havens were fair only in fair weather. The bay on the west side is Matala where, according to Homer, Menelaus's ships were destroyed by bad weather while returning from Troy. Some Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem were in 1523 also shipwrecked in these waters while relocating to Malta by way of Italy following their eviction from Rhodes. Here, too, fifteen years later Kheir-ed-Din Barbarossa with a fleet of more than 100 large galleys turned north upon receiving word that the Papal fleet of Andrea Doria was headed south. They met at Actium. It was in seeking a more secure winter anchorage that Paul's grain carrier was caught up in a storm which two weeks later wrecked the vessel on the shores of the same Malta. Bus and taxi service to Minoan Phaestus (30 minutes) and to the summer palace at Agia Triada (40 minutes). Similar connections to the international airport at Iraklion (2 hours).
*The Holy Bible, King James Version, Book of The Acts Of The Apostles, Chapter 27
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