Nissiros (or Nisyros) is a small volcanic island, a mere 41
square kilometres in area, situated between Kos and Tilos. In
antiquity it was known as Porphyris. Mythology holds that once
it was united with Kos and that when Poseidon was chasing the
giant Polyvotis, he split the two islands asunder.
The capital and port of Nissiros is Mandraki, set in the
northwest at the foot of a steep hill. The whiteness of its
houses forms a striking contrast to the dark, volcanic earth.
Yet another castle erected by the Knights of St. John looms
above the small town, while a chapel nearby dedicated to the
Panayia tis Spilianis (Our Lady of the Cave), the patroness of
the island, clings to the tip of the rock. Built in 1600, it is
linked with many traditions and has a lovely 18th century
The islandís hot springs, fabled since antiquity and still in
use today, are to be found at Loutra just 1.5 kilometres from
Mandraki. East of Loutra is the picturesque fishing village of
Another village, Emborios, lies to the southeast of Mandraki, in
the interior of the island, in a lush area with mineral springs
and planted with olive trees, fruittrees, fig trees and
You have to go almost to the middle of Nissiros to the Lakki
plateau, to see the crater of the extinct volcano, Polybates. It
is 260 metres in diameter and 30 metres deep with steps leading
down to its Center. The reek of sulphur fills the surrounding
air, while the scenery could belong to the moon.
In the south of the island, the charming village of Nikia
perches on the crest of a hill 400 metres above sea level. Its
white houses with their brightly coloured doors and windows and
tile roofs are an attractive complement to the greenery that
abounds in the district.
Nissiros is blessed with many lovely beaches: at Mandraki,
Hochlaki, Aghia lrini, Avlaki and on Giali, the islet directly