Film info

Creator / Collector

“Europe starts here” a sign says as it welcomes us to Kastellorizo ​​or Megisti, but in the past most of the inhabitants of the island were forced to migrate to another continent, to Australia.

In the panoramic shots that follow we watch the amphitheatrical layout of the buildings alongside the waterfront, all facing the sea, a source of wealth for the people of the island. The captains' houses built one next to other, embrace the waterfront with their nobility and in the area of ​​Pigadia, the lens passes the church of Saint Georgios to follow a sailing boat as it sails slowly inside the port, passing its narrow-fronted, two-story houses of the capital of the island.

Fishermen with sunburned faces clean the nets and old women, who sit, perhaps are talking about the glories that their place once experienced, as the minaret from the old mosque, now a folklore museum, is visible in the background.

A brief look at the narrow cobbled streets and you feel that the past is alive and you can touch it. You see it at the bougainvilleas flowers that climb over the deserted mansions, at the Paradise Hotel, at a lonely kiosk, at the palm trees, perhaps a remnant of the Italian occupation, at the rented rooms of Barbara with the blue railings in the windows, at the small openings in the curves of the houses, and at the closed houses that are living proof of the past greatness of Megisti.

The lens continues its tour with shots from the Venetian castle Castello Rosso, passes through the old mosque, stands at the anchor which is tied to the pier, passes the fishing boats that stand upside down on land and before the lens closes, we see a final shot of a family immigrants from Australia who returned to stay permanently on the island.


Film Information

Bonar, Andrew Graham

HD (1440x1080)



Duration (seconds)

Super 8mm

Creator's description

Kastelorizo is the most remote of the Greek islands. It is a seven-hour boat journey east of Rhodos. “Europe starts here” says the welcome sign on the waterfront, and that is true, I suppose, because the next inhabited island going in an easterly direction is Cyprus.

The port of Kastelorizo –or Megisti, as it is sometimes called- is the only village on the island, which is rocky and treeless, has very little water and very little cultivable soil. The harbour, however, is excellent, and can provide a safe anchorage for a large number of boats. Not that there are many boats now –many that you see are foreign yachts calling in for only a few days before going elsewhere. The population of the island today numbers barely 200, but at one time over 8000 people had their home here.

In due course we shall see what brought about that catastrophic decline, but first of all let’s take a walk along the quayside and see the villagers at their daily tasks. The fishermen obviously play an important role in the economy –in fact today fish is about the island’s only product. But obviously fish alone would not keep the economy alive. They are saved by the island’s strong connection with Australia. Most of the islanders who emigrated went to Australia, where they –known as “the Kassies”- form a closely-knit community. They send remittances to the relatives who stayed behind and in the summer swarms of them come over from Australia to revisit their ancestral island.

The houses on the waterfront are a façade. Behind them there is little but ruin and desolation, especially on the eastern side of the harbour. In some cases the shells of the abandoned houses are not too far gone to rescue, and in recent years some have been renovated and restored –mostly by islanders who emigrated to Rhodos and live there but like to keep a foothold on Kastelorizo. A few houses have rooms to let, and these fill up with Kassies from Australia during the tourist season. Apart from the Kassies mercifully few tourists come to the island –no doubt they are put off by its remoteness and the almost total lack of beaches and other tourist amenities.

Here we are –the Varvara guesthouse, where I stayed: a typical island house with its blue-painted woodwork.

Some of the passages between the houses are extremely narrow -space was at a premium, of course, when the town had 8000 inhabitants.

Sitting at a table in one of the two or three surviving little restaurants on the waterfront you have before you an enchanting view across the placid waters of the harbour - a harbour which today is almost empty but which in its heyday was home to as many as 300 sailing ships.

On the opposite side of the harbour is a desolate slope crowned by the surviving ruins of the old castle of Castello Rosso, built by the Knights of St. John of Rhodes. To the left of the slope, at the harbour entrance, is a former mosque, now empty.

Before we say goodbye to this far-away island let us just make the acquaintance of the Mavrothalassitis family –the only family ever to have come back from Australia to stay permanently on the island. Good luck to them.
Bonar, Andrew Graham