Karavas. Karavas is a beautiful traditional village lying in green terraced hillsides in the north of Kythira, 4 kilometres northwest of Agia Pelagia and 26 kilometres north of Chora (Kythira Town). The name Karavas is derived from the word ‘Karavi’ which means ‘boat’. The name of the village ‘Karavas’ originated because of the fact,that many boats crashed on the rocks nearby, before the lighthouse was built here. The village consists of several small villages where every neighbourhood has the name of the inhabitants (Diakopoulianika, Kritharianika, Mavragiorganika etc). This phenomenon of villages named after the inhabitants, is everywhere on the island of Kythira.
At Karavas are many water sources. The source of "Amir Ali" is the best known. From this source is a lovely walkway through a green "jungle-like" area, along creeks and streams, where butterflies and dragonflies fly. The flowing water, the birds and the humming of insects are the only sounds here. What a beautiful relaxing place! You can walk into this fairy-tale area towards the sources of Portokalia. (= Orange tree) This name comes from the large orange tree that would have grown here, which supplied tons of oranges, even exported to Athens. Unfortunately, that tree no longer exists, but the sources fortunately do. The area here is a beautiful green oasis.
The village of Karavas was towards the end of the eighteenth century, founded by refugees from the Peloponnese and from residents from the village of Potamos. In the 19th century to the early 20th century, the whole area was developed well economically, proof are the many neoclassical buildings in the centre of the village. At that time, the inhabitants were mostly sea people, business people and scientists. Marmaro is the name of the centre of the village. After the first and second world war, many inhabitants of the village emigrated gradually to the United States and Australia. That’s why many houses are abandoned and need renovation. Many immigrants come back regularly. They try to renovate their ancestors’ homes and that’s a great success because it’s like the village is reborn!
The bakery of the village of Karavas is worth visiting. This beautiful bakery is housed in an old olive press, which is entirely in the old style restored by Pavlos, who is the sympathetic grandson of the original owner of the olive press. We got a tour where he meticulously explained how the former olive press worked and how the bakery works now. It's a real family business. It is not only bread that is baked here, but also the speciality of Kythira "Paximadi". These are double baked pastries, a kind of small, dried crust, very tasty, with egg, honey or cheese, but especially delicious as croutons in the salad with tomato, olive oil and feta. If you visit Kythira, don’t miss a visit to the bakery of Karavas!
Text: Yorgos and Wendy Nikolidakis - Revised by Maxine van Hoften Gee