I’d travelled to Kastellorizo before for Rough Guides, and written about it here. In the post, I described why I wasn’t too keen on the island, despite it being aesthetically beautiful. Well, after my recent sojourn back to Kastellorizo to explore for Rough Guides again, I can say my feelings hadn’t changed – but one person stood out amongst all the others – Alekos Zygouris – my sculptor friend.
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I bumped into Alekos Zygouris back in 2014 when I was on a ferry travelling from Rhodes to the island. We were both watching the sea go by, and the occasional dolphin rear its head. Sitting out on deck, we got chatting and he told me about his life on the island; in brief he’s lived there for over 35 years – in the summer mainly – and lives amongst the limestone rocks at the harbour’s edge.
He lives frugally off his occasional sales of other sculpting work – but demands and expects no payment for this project he’s undertaking. His aim is to sculpt the rocks into something magnificent so that future generations will have something to be proud of. “Not a lot to be proud of in this day and age I’m afraid” he reflects. “Maybe I can help do something about that, at least visually.”
Fast forward to 2017 and I am back on the island again. I pop into a local taverna to have some lunch – Alexandra’s who, I have to say, are very friendly. See here my photo with the mother of Alexandra. Quite deaf, she was happy to have me sit with her and although we couldn’t understand each other, we nodded along, munching bread and taramasalata dip together.
I digress. I ask the owner if Alekos is still around.
Ah yes, of course! Are you going to visit him? If so, can you take him this food please?
I grinned as I took the proffered food packaged up. I remembered; Alekos lives in pretty much isolation out by the harbour edge in an old chapel and tent. He doesn’t have any running water, electricity or the such…he prefers to be at one with the elements in order to express himself on the environment around him; the limestone rocks he works with using only a hammer, chisel and awl.
So it’s nice to see the local eateries looking after him and, effectively, sending food parcels. Not that I needed a reason to take a visit, but I could take him some food too.
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Amongst the Kastellorizo Sculptures
I amble past the vast Hotel Megisti at the end of the harbour and pick my way through the vegetation and rocks to the little chapel at the end…where a cat greets me (of course). Stooping to stroke her, Alekos must have heard my approach and stops his work, coming to greet me.
I was really touched he remembered me from three years previously. We wander around his work and I admire at how much it has come on in the three years since I last saw it. Handing over my food parcel, he makes me a cup of herb tea from his gas stove and we sit and watch the sun set over the sea and the boats chugging along to/from the harbour.
Well, see for yourself Alekos’s work…I think you, too, will be amazed.
For your pick of hotels to stay in in Kastellorizo, check here and here. I do hope you’ll come and visit this island – very near to Fry in Turkey. Be sure to watch out for these amazing sculptures…they’re pretty hard to miss. This is the work over 10 years…and he intends to keep working at the rocks…it’s where he is happiest.
Be sure to go past the Megisti Hotel at the harbour’s end and visit Alekos in his chapel. He welcomes visitors, or you may be lucky and see him actually at work. But don’t stay too long; as a man who loves nature and lives so much alone, naturally he likes his own company, so be respectful of this.
- Fly to Rhodes then take a ferry.
- No need to spend any more than 2 or 3 days on the island – it’s tiny (and quite expensive).
- Why not then head off to the delightful island of Symi after.
- Greek ferry times can be found here.