|So close ... So far!
The port-town of Karystos stands at the mid-point of a beckoning semi-circular bay on the southern tip of Evia, the second largest island of Greece. Situated at 20 nautical miles from Rafina and 20 nautical miles from Andros, the town is surrounded by hills and mountains, with the imposing peak of Mt. Ohi (1389m) providing for a dramatic backdrop directly at the centre.
According to mythology, the town (once called Cheironia) was founded by Chiron, the wise centaur from Mt. Pelion, or by his son, Karystos. Modern Karystos was probably the first attempt at contemporary urban planning in the newly formed Greek state following the War of Independence from Ottoman rule (1821-1829). When the old village was moved from around the Venetian castle after 1830, the Bavarian architect Bierbach redesigned a new community adjacent to the harbour, complete with several broad boulevards leading to squares, as well as sidewalks and a promenade. Today, Karystos is the cultural and financial centre of Karystia, featuring an array of contemporary services, a well organised hospital, an Archaeological Museum, an interesting Folklore Collection and a Cultural Centre. Aghios Nikolaos, the largest church in Karystos, stands in its own tree-lined precinct, just below the Town Hall. Marble steps from the road above the church lead up to the Town Hall that overlooks the main street, and below that the mulberry-tree-lined Town Square, down to the harbour.
Long walks on the nearby mountains provide for a unique experience with many pleasant surprises. Picturesque villages perched on ravines with natural springs and mulberry trees, a modern mountain refuge, the Venetian Castle Castello Rosso, the Gorge of Dimossari, the Dragon House, the Gulf of ancient Geraistos, and Bourtzi, a small rectangular fortress located just east of the small commercial port, are a few of the sites that attract great interest.
Widely known as the place of origin for a prized quarried stone used in decorative masonry throughout Greece and beyond, the area also has an abundance of livestock and fish. Clinging to its traditional Greek character, Karystos attracts hundreds of visitors each year enjoying the sun at its numerous splendid beaches, succulent home-made delicacies and excellent local wines served at local sea-side and inland taverns, ouzo with innumerable "meze" dishes at restaurants lining the picturesque harbour, modern cafes and night-clubs.
The Karystia region ranks as one of the most sparsely populated areas close to bustling and congested Athens. A 45-minute drive from central Athens to the eastern Attica coast, followed by less than two hours by ferry boat from the port of Rafina, separate the Greek capital from Karystos. A ferry boat route also links Rafina to the sleepy port of Marmari - one hour and 15 minutes away - while a 45-minute boat ride takes vehicles and passengers from the tiny dock of Aghia Marina in northeastern Attica prefecture, across to Evia at Nea Styra, the picturesque seaport that serves the inland village of Styra, a 45-minute drive north of Karystos.