It is said that the word Kythera possibly comes from the ancient Greek verb “keftho” which means “to conceal hidden secrets”. This mesmerizing route unravels a hidden world of waterfalls, natural pools, huge plane trees, maple trees, stone bridges, watermills and chapels, which hardly evokes insular landscapes. Hiking starts from the center of the area, in Agios Sostis, an archetype of a Greek village with the square, the “kafeneio” (traditional coffeehouse), the plane tree, the churches and Kamari, the largest public lavoir of Kythera. In a short distance, an impressive cobblestone trail “dives” in the magical ravine passing through the first watermills to reach the famous waterfall of Fonissa, which gives a first glimpse of what is about to come. The ravine of Mylopotamos is an open-air museum of pre-industrial society and traditional water management. The trail passes through inimitable complexes of watermills, houses and bridges which are fully integrated with the plane trees and the waterfalls. Locals used the scarce water of the ravine in an optimal way by operating the 23 watermills for grinding wheat, barley and other cereals. In the past, that was the beating heart of the island, as locals from all corners of Kythera came here to make flour. Since the trails were long and difficult with the loaded mules, the “clients” often stayed overnight in specific rooms inside the mills. The watermill of Filippis is the only one fully restored, visitable and operational. A unique sight in Greece is a slope where four watermills are built amphitheatrically, one above the other, being supplied directly by the same water channel. The trail passes under one of them with a built curved archway. A little further, the old stone bridges still stand, which offer an easy access to the watermills. The four waterfalls of this trail are ideal for a cool break in magical landscapes.
The route leaves the ravine behind as it ascends through cobblestone paths, the well-hidden chapel of Agia Aikaterini, which undercut in a rock shelter and rural landscapes in order to behold Kato Chora with the venetian castle and the impressive defensive architecture. This old trail ends at the north side of the citadel, first leading to the church of Agia Marina, which is built in the rocks, and through Neratzea, the verdant ravine with silver poplars and bay laurels. In the castle, the journey to earlier eras carries on with the byzantine churches and the abandoned houses still standing. Next to the gate of the castle, which is adorned with the winged lion of Saint Mark, emblem of the Venetian Republic, lies one of the five schools of Kythera built by the British. During British rule, it was compulsory that all the boys of the area went to this school, where teaching was taking place with the peer-to-peer method. This modus operandi resulted in a high level of education on the island. Coming back to the starting point, the trail crosses the whole settlement of Kato Chora, which is protected for its traditional architecture. At the end of the route, a stop for rest, coffee or food is almost a given.