Cosmopolitan, friendly and accessible, Tzia is just an hour away from the port of Lavrio, in eastern Attica. Those that know the island – whether as Tzia or its alternatives Kea, Gia or Zea – start their weekend sojourns at Easter, enjoying fresh fish at the tavernas in the marinas. Discover its beaches, old churches, Hellenistic towers, watermills and windmills. Trek its trails all the way to Ancient Greece with no less than four ancient cities; Ioulis, Korissia, Poiessa and Karthaia. Mythology says that here was the first home of the nymphs and it is not hard to imagine why. Adventure seekers can explore the shipwrecks or go off-roading over the wild terrain.
What to do in Tzia
The Lion of Ioulis
The guard and emblem of the island: The ‘Lion’ of Ioulis. Admire this carved statue that is associated with the island’s myths and dates back to the early Archaic period. A representative of the sculptural work of the island, this is The King of Tzia.
Ioulis: an ancient city in Tzia
For a walk that takes you back in time, come to Ioulis, the only one of the ancient cities that was built inland. Spread along the slope like an amphitheatre, it invites you to get lost in the magic of its stately homes, vaulted alleys, fountains, traditional architecture and Venetian castle. Devote a moment to the neoclassical Town Hall, designed by the famous architect Ernst Ziller. The archaeological museum, considered one of the most important of its kind in the Cyclades, is a must-see.
Shipwrecks of the deep
The HMHS Britannic, sister-ship to the Titanic, was sunk near Tzia by a German naval mine in 1916 on only its sixth voyage. Jacques Yves Cousteau’s team explored it in 1975 but, to date, few divers have approached the wreck, located at a depth of 120m, even though it’s considered one of the most significant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, and of all time. On the reef of Koundourou, there’s another sunken ship; the steamer Patris that went down in 1868.
A day in the Classical period
“This narrow, rocky land of Karthaia, I would not exchange it with Babylon,” wrote the ancient Greek poet Pindar. It’s worth devoting a day to visit the most important of all the four ancient cities of Tzia, which flourished in the Archaic period. Here history comes to life in the Doric Temple of Pythiou Apollona, built in 530 BC and thought to be dedicated to Athens. Try to arrive at Karthaia by the ancient trail of Vathipotamou, just as worshippers once did. A one-hour walk is rewarded by a refreshing swim at Poles beach.
A dip in the sea
The sandy beaches of Vourkari, Gialiskari, Korissia, Koundouros, Orkos, Pisses and Spathi are shaded by eucalyptus trees among others and all boast calm, clear waters. They are especially popular with boat owners.