1. Geographical position and natural environment

Alimia or Alimnia, located at the northeast of Chalki, is one of the largest skerries between Rhodes and Chalki. It is a mountainous island, with only a few fertile slopes around the Castle hill and two natural coves: Emporeios and Agios Georgios. The settlement at Agios Georgios was deserted after World War II. Nowadays, the island is uninhabited, with just a few sheep and goats being farmed there, and tourists visit it on sailing boats or specially chartered boats (kaikia), since regular connection with Chalki is unavailable. Alimia has been included in the European network "Natura 2000" as a Special Protection Area (SPA).

2. History

Habitation on Alimia probably began during Νeolithic Times since recent excavations brought to light a Neolithic arched building at the southern slope of the Castle hill. The island was inhabited by a small population that, apart from cultivating the land and farming stock, also exploited what the surrounding sea area had to offer.

The island has been identified as the ancient Eulimnia mentioned by Pliny and named after its two natural ports (limen is the ancient Greek word for port). The rock-hewn dockyards date back in the Hellenistic Period, when Alimia and Chalki belonged to the Rhodian state and were used as anchorages and observatories for the Rhodian fleet. The Hellenistic fort on the Castle hill, beneath the mediaeval fortress, points out the island’s significance in Antiquity. Habitation at Emporeios also continues after ancient times, as shown by the uncovering of a Roman tomb covered with tiles and of an Early Christian basilica foundation (4th-7th century AD). Recent excavations at the dockyards have proven that they were still in use during this late period, when Emporeios was an entrepôt for wheat trade from Alexandria to Constantinople as well as a ship-repair unit.

During Mediaeval Times, the island was also called Limonia. The Knights Hospitaller conquered it along with Chalki in 1309 and granted it as a fief to Barello Assanti in 1366 provided that he built a fortress. Building the fortress did not carry on though, and in 1475 the knights saw to it themselves. In 1493, the island’s habitants moved to Rhodes in order to be protected from Ottoman incursions. However, habitation went on also during the Ottoman rule, as shown by the small settlement at Agios Georgios. After the Ottomans, the island passed under Italian rule. During World War II, the Italians used the Agios Georgios cove as a navy yard. Alimia was incorporated in the Greek state in 1948 along with the rest of the Dodecanese.

3. Archaeological sites and monuments

At the top of a hill in the center of the island, beneath the knights’ castle, one can see the foundation of an ancient tower with an enclosure. The mediaeval castle only took up a small part of the Hellenistic fortification. The Neolithic building is located on the north slope of the hill.

The main attraction at the Emporeios and Agios Georgios coves are the ancient dockyards. At Emporeios, there are traces of the ancient settlement (some walls, two cisterns and furnaces), since it was not inhabited in later times. From the Early Christian basilica are left the arch and the largest part of the northern nave.

4. Architecture

The island’s traditional settlement, located at the Agios Georgios port, has stone-built houses with built ovens and the kyfes, a kind of cellated farm houses. During Italian rule, barracks were built, when this area was used as a dockyard. Nowadays, the settlement is abandoned and uninhabited.