1. Location – morphology

The Kinaros islet is located in the northern part of the Dodecanese, in the sea area located to the east of Kalymnos and Leros and to the west of Amorgos. It is 17 miles from Aigiali on Amorgos and together with the neighbouring islet Levitha forms the geographical boundary between the island complexes of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. The island is long and narrow in shape with uneven shores which form, particularly along its southern side, narrow and smooth coves, suitable for sheltering and anchorage because of the natural protection they provide from strong northerly winds. The west side of Kinaros has more precipitous and inaccessible shores, while its surface is level with a lack of mountainous elevations.

2. Historical evidence

The geographical position of Kinaros between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese defined its historical evolution. It was a satellite of larger islands, particularly Amorgos, and during the period of the Amorgos Commonwealth (Minoa, Arkesini, Aigiali), it developed as an ideal fishing environment, but also as an important anchorage for sea transportations. Ships which travelled between Amorgos and Leros and suffered, particularly during the summer months, the affect of northern winds, could use Kinaros to rest and split the continuous and difficult journey. A small settlement must have evolved on the island during ancient times involved mainly with fishing and serving the requirements of passing ships. The only surviving, to date, archaeological evidence has been located on the island’s peak. These are remnants from the historical years, which indicate building activity.

As far as more recent historical eras are concerned, non-existent archaeological evidence hinders the establishment of conclusions, although it seems that little changed over the years. It is possible that during the middle Ages Kinaros was a safe haven for pirates, as where most of the small islands of the Aegean, but this theory cannot be verified by historical evidence. The island’s smooth relief moreover, supports its use as a pass-through in marine communications.

The only indirect historical evidence we have for Kinaros during the early modern period comes from the renowned Monastery of Hozoviotissa on Amorgos. The Monastery’s Katholiko contains an icon with two zones. On the upper zone are pictured the Praying Virgin with Christ in her arms in the middle, Aghios Georgios Valsamitis, protector of sailors on the right, and Aghia Paraskevi on the left. These two figures hold a cross in one hand and with the other pray towards the Virgin. The lower zone narrates the scene of a shipwreck with sailors struggling for survival between two barren islands. The scene is accompanied by an inscription – prayer, which contains the thanksgiving of the abbot of the Monastery of Aghios Ioannis Theologos on Patmos, who while travelling from Patmos to Amorgos and the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, was saved from the shipwreck near the islands Kinaros and Levitha (1619). This testimony emphasizes the age-long importance of Kinaros as a naval crossing between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.

3. Kinaros today

Today, Kinaros has 2 permanent residents, is occasionally inhabited also by fishermen and is used for grazing, while it also contains a mavropetritis (type of falcon) colony. During the summer months day-trippers from Leros and Aigiali enjoy the island’s quiet and calm coves, far from the bustle of mass tourism.

The encouragement of agro-tourism with the creation of welcoming farms and rudimentary visitor and restaurant facilities, combined with the island’s recent inclusion in the NATURA 2000 network as an area of particular importance for the protection of the area’s birds, provide an idea of the ways through which a deserted island in the middle of the Aegean could evolve into an alternative tourism centre based on mild human intervention and respect for the natural environment.