Over the last years, the island of Kalymnos has gradually developed as a rock climbing destination. Its landscape is mountainous and the characteristic feature of Kalymnos is its many caves. The mountains on the northern side of the island and the neighboring island of Telendos are the most popular sites for rock climbing. Other interesting sightseeing in Kalymnos is the Monastery of Agios Savvas and the Medieval Castle of Chryssoheria. Visitors should also not miss a boat trip from the port of Myrties to the island of Telendos, a secluded place with naturist beaches.
Kalymnos had a long tradition in sponge fishing in the past, but today it has only a few sponge factories in Pothia. There you can get informed on the process of collecting and elaborating sponges.
Sponges are strongly related to Kalymnos, known as the Kalymnian Gold. This barren rocky island located in the southeastern Aegean Sea could not offer anything to the Islanders to make their living. The villagers thus turned towards the sea for their survival and sponge fishing became particularly popular on this island.
Because it was hard for the locals to stay underwater, a rubberized diving suit called skafandro with a bronze helmet became popular allowing the sponge hunters to stay underwater for more time. Though the process was very risky, the spongers could harvest sponges in large numbers. They were later collected in warehouses for processing.
These warehouses were gradually modified into full-fledged sponge factories. There, sponges were processed in large quantities and they were sold to natives or exported. This tradition has today declined as natural sponges have been substituted by plastic sponges, made by factories in large quantities. Moreover, this process was particularly dangerous for the divers, so the locals have turned to other sources of income, such as tourism.
Only one sponge factory remains at the capital of the island, Pothia, to remind locals and visitors this tradition. This factory is open to visitors to get informed on the history of sponge-fishing, the methods used to dive, the process of elaborating sponges and to see from close enough workers elaborate sponges today.
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