Tilos

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The Island of the Dwarf Elephants

Striking Castles, Imposing Mountains and Patchworks of Fragrances on the Ultimate Shelter of the Dwarf Elephants of Europe
Tilos is waiting for you to discover striking medieval castles, imposing mountains with natural springs, pristine beaches, charming churches, the cave of the dwarf elephants and the abandoned medieval village of Mikro Horio! The spectacular beauty of Tilos boasts mountainous and rocky landscapes blessed with verdant hills and an abundant variety of plants of almond trees, bluebells, orchids, oaks and shamrocks that create a colourful patchwork of fragrances. Megalo Horio is the charming capital of the island with a traditional character. Whitewashed houses, flowery courtyards and cobblestone alleys spread around the traces of the medieval castle. When the sun is trying to hide behind the imposing mountains of Tilos, the shades of orange shine under the imperious castle of the Knights. You will be dazzled from the mysterious village of Mikro Horio that comes alive only during the night while the romantic promenades in the charming village of Agios Antonios will amaze you! The wild natural beauty of the island is unique and this is the reason that the local people of Tilos founded a non-profit association for the Ecological Park of Tilos with the purpose of preserving and protecting the natural and cultural heritage of the island through the awareness of the locals and the travellers. You will be captivated from the indescribable tranquility of Tilos along with its rugged beauty; just don’t forget to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints! Are you ready to unveil the mysteries of Tilos?

Best of Tilos

The Capital of Tilos

The Town of Megalo Horio is the capital of Tilos located on the north side of the island. The lovely settlement has managed to preserve its authentic character. Traditional houses with flowery courtyards and cobblestone alleys spread around the mountain slopes of Agios Stefanos under the shade of the medieval castle. It is worth visiting the castle of Knights for its breathtaking views. One can also visit the cave of Harkadio for the rich paleontological fossils that have been found. Actually, the cave of Harkadio is the place where the last elephants of Europe resided.

The Cave of Harkadio

The Cave of Harkadio is one of the most interesting caves of Greece located in the area of Messaria. The cave has a great paleontological interest hosting a series of volcanic material and phosphorous compounds that resemble fossilized bones. Archaeological excavations have brought to light numerous bones of dwarf elephants along with stone tools of the Neolithic period, which are displayed in the Paleontological Museum of Tilos. The municipality of the island constructed a stone theatre next to the cave that gave new dimensions to the importance of the area contributing to the understanding of palaeontology. From these findings, it is proved that the island was united with the coast of Asia Minor but it was disconnected six million years ago. When it was disconnected, the dwarf elephants had to adjust to the new environment in order to survive. Those were the last elephants lived in Europe. The Physiographic Museum of Vienna has dedicated a special section to the dwarf elephants of Tilos.

The Castle of the Knights

The Castle of the Knights dominates the natural fortified hill of Agios Stefanos above the village of Megalo Horio. The castle was built on the traces of the ancient acropolis from the Knights of Saint John in the 15th century. The fortress was built in order to protect the roads that lead to the fertile plains of the island. Tilos was given to the Knights as a feud from Barello Assanti d’Ischia with the mandate to effectively fortify the island and the obligation to send to the Grand Master in Rhodes the loots from the shipwrecks that would be localized in the region. Within the walls of the castle, an entire village was once built in order to protect the inhabitants from potential pirate invasions in the middle ages. Today, the outer defensive walls of the castle are the sole surviving remains of the castle.

The Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas

The Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas is the most important pilgrimage centre of Tilos lying on the slopes of the highest mountain of the island. It was built with a fortified architecture in 1470. The monastery distinguishes for its pebbled courtyard and its impressive wall paintings. Agios Panteleimonas is the patron saint of Tilos. The monastery celebrates in honour of the saint on July 26.

The Village of Mikro Horio

The Village of Mikro Horio is a deserted village located between the areas of Livadia and Megalo Horio. The village used to be inhabited until it was finally abandoned as the inhabitants moved to Livadia. The sole significant relics of Mikro Horio include traces of well-preserved houses, the remains of the medieval castle of the Knights and the whitewashed church that dominates the valley. Mikro Horio is one of the most interesting monuments of the island. A promenade around the area is arguable a unique experience. There is one more abandoned village called Gera on the southeast side of the island that used to be the agricultural premises of the residents of Mikro Horio. It is worth visiting the bar that operates in the area during the summer; it is definitely a unique experience in an abandoned medieval village!

Discover Tilos

Castles, Fortresses and Towers

The Castle of Agiosykia dominates the hillside above the harbour of Livadia. The castle was built from the Knights of Saint John in the 15th century. Tilos was given to the Knights as a feud from Barello Assanti d’Ischia with the mandate to effectively fortify the island and the obligation to send to the Grand Master in Rhodes the loots from the shipwrecks that would be localized in the region. Today, parts of the defensive walls are the sole surviving remains of the castle. The castle offers panoramic views over the Aegean Sea.

The Castle of the Knights dominates the natural fortified hill of Agios Stefanos above the village of Megalo Horio. The castle was built on the traces of the ancient acropolis from the Knights of Saint John in the 15th century. The fortress was built in order to protect the roads that lead to the fertile plains of the island. Tilos was given to the Knights as a feud from Barello Assanti d’Ischia with the mandate to effectively fortify the island and the obligation to send to the Grand Master in Rhodes the loots from the shipwrecks that would be localized in the region. Within the walls of the castle, an entire village was once built in order to protect the inhabitants from potential pirate invasions in the middle ages. Today, the outer defensive walls of the castle are the sole surviving remains of the castle.

The Fortress of Messaria is found on the eastern side of Megalo Horio. One can find the remnants of the fortress that was constructed from the Knights of Saint John in 1366. The fortress was built in order to protect the roads that lead to the fertile plains of the island. Tilos was given to the Knights as a feud from Barello Assanti d’Ischia with the mandate to effectively fortify the island and the obligation to send to the Grand Master in Rhodes the loots from the shipwrecks that would be localized in the region. Within the walls, the foundations of several buildings are found along with a vaulted chapel dedicated to Prophet Elias. On the outskirts, there are also remnants of a byzantine settlement and chapels with remarkable frescoes.

The Tower of Mikro Horio dominates the highest point of the abandoned settlement. The tower was built with small stones during the byzantine times. Today, parts of the semi circular tower are the sole surviving remains of the tower.

The Watchtowers of Labros and Faneromeni dominate the two hills of the right and the left side of the harbour of Livadia. The watchtowers were built in a grid of mutually defensive positions for the strategic control of the area in the 14th century. Today, parts of the watchtowers can be still distinguished.

Churches and Monasteries

The Church of Agios Ioannis Theologos is an old church located in the village of Megalo Horio. Built in the post byzantine period, the church distinguishes for its remarkable frescoes. The church is found in a beautiful location offering panoramic views of the surrounding areas.

The Church of Archangel Michael is located inside the castle of Megalo Horio. The church was built on the remnants of the ancient sanctuaries of Apollo and Athena during the byzantine period. The temple has a charming courtyard with a pebbled floor and a beautiful bell tower. The town hall and the public library are housed within the church.

The Church of Panagia Theotokissa dominates the top of the settlement of Megalo Horio. It is one of the most beautiful churches of Tilos distinguished for its charming pebbled courtyard and its beautiful bell tower. The biggest traditional celebration in honor of Virgin Mary takes place in the church on the August 15.

The Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas is the most important pilgrimage centre of Tilos lying on the slopes of the highest mountain of the island. It was built with a fortified architecture in 1470. The monastery distinguishes for its pebbled courtyard and its impressive wall paintings. Agios Panteleimonas is the patron saint of Tilos. The monastery celebrates in honour of the saint on July 26.

Museums

The Archaeological Collection of Tilos is located in Megalo Horio. The collection exhibits pieces of classical vessels, ancient statues and sculptures and inscriptions from the Classical and Hellenistic periods found on excavation of Tilos.

The Paleontological Collection of Tilos is located in Megalo Horio. The collection exhibits findings from excavation in the cave of Harkadio including ancient tools, pottery pieces and fossils of dwarf elephants.

Natural Beauties

The Cave of Harkadio is one of the most interesting caves of Greece located in the area of Messaria. The cave has a great paleontological interest hosting a series of volcanic material and phosphorous compounds that resemble fossilized bones. Archaeological excavations have brought to light numerous bones of dwarf elephants along with stone tools of the Neolithic period, which are displayed in the Paleontological Museum of Tilos. The municipality of the island constructed a stone theatre next to the cave that gave new dimensions to the importance of the area contributing to the understanding of palaeontology. From these findings, it is proved that the island was united with the coast of Asia Minor but it was disconnected six million years ago. When it was disconnected, the dwarf elephants had to adjust to the new environment in order to survive. Those were the last elephants lived in Europe. The Physiographic Museum of Vienna has dedicated a special section to the dwarf elephants of Tilos.

Promenades and Villages

Agios Antonios is a seaside settlement located on the western side of Megalo Horio. The area hosts one of the most beautiful beaches of Tilos. The lovely settlement is ideal for romantic promenades with panoramic views towards to the islands of Kos and Nisyros.

Megalo Horio is the capital of Tilos located on the north side of the island. The lovely settlement has managed to preserve its authentic character. Traditional houses with flowery courtyards and cobblestone alleys spread around the mountain slopes of Agios Stefanos under the shade of the medieval castle. It is worth visiting the castle of Knights for its breathtaking views. One can also visit the cave of Harkadio for the rich paleontological fossils that have been found. Actually, the cave of Harkadio is the place where the last elephants of Europe resided.

Mikro Horio is a deserted village located between the villages of Livadia and Megalo Horio. The village used to be inhabited until it was finally abandoned as the inhabitants moved to Livadia. The sole significant relics of Mikro Horio include traces of well-preserved houses, the remains of the medieval castle of the Knights and the whitewashed church that dominates the valley. Mikro Horio is one of the most interesting monuments of the island. A promenade around the area is arguable a unique experience. There is one more abandoned village called Gera on the southeast side of the island that used to be the agricultural premises of the residents of Mikro Horio. It is worth visiting the bar that operates in the area during the summer; it is definitely a unique experience in an abandoned medieval village!

Livadia is the harbour of Tilos located on the east side of the island. Characterized as a traditional settlement, Livadia retains the character of the architecture of the Dodecanese. The traditional houses spread around the natural bay of Livadia. It is worth visiting the building of the police station, as it is an outstanding example of the traditional architecture.

Sunset Spots

Spot: Beach of Agios Antonios, North Tilos

Spot: Beach of Eristos, West Tilos

Spot: Village of Mikro Horio, Northeast Tilos

Excursions

Boat Trip: The Island of Halki is a mysterious island with artistic landscapes that compose a beautiful image of a marvelous canvas, a charming village waiting to catch your attention. A handful of neoclassical mansions spread around the charming harbour of the island in all the shades of the colours of the rainbow that reflect under the blinding light of the sun. Characterized by UNESCO as the island of Peace and Friendship, Niborio is the colourful capital and harbour of the island! The beautiful settlement has an authentic atmosphere with tall mansions and enormous windows under the red tiled roofs and cobblestone labyrinthine alleys. And what about the size? Whatever Halki lacks in size, it replenishes in landscapes and colours; besides they say less is more. This is Halki, a tiny island with virgin natural beauty eager to be discovered. An island with traditional colours and remarkable historical monuments create a peaceful and tranquil environment even for the most discerning travellers.

Boat Trip: The Island of Nisyros is a mysterious island of the Dodecanese that was captured from pirates, conquered from the knights and subjugated from the Turks, an island that hypnotizes the traveller from the captivating contrast between the lunar volcanic scenery of the inland and the surrounding fertile area of dark beaches and thermal springs. Nisyros shapes an exceptional character with its unique mystical beauty embellished with diversified landscapes of a seductive and idyllic volcano atmosphere. The island emits a distinctive charm that goes beyond natural beauty, possible due to the captivating energy vibes of the active volcano. The outstanding contrast between the volcanic colours of the volcano and the whitewashed houses of the Aegean will definitely amaze you while the lunar sceneries of the crater of the volcano with the odour of sulphur will make you want to hold your breath! Evident in every little stone, the volcanic composition of Nisyros has been originated from the massive eruptions millions of years ago. Fascinating contrasts between the dark brown earth and the deep blue sea forms a succession of darken seashores of extreme wild beauty. Nisyros is a truly genuine island with an unusual beauty. The captivating landscapes, the hypnotizing landscapes and the thermal springs might even feel like you have “Nisyriasi”: a word meaning a severe addiction to the volcanic energy of the island in the world of Nisyros!

Activities

Bird Watching: Tilos constitutes a vast ecological park protected from the European Network of Natura 2000. The mountainous volumes and the beaches are inhabited from numerous species of rare bird species. The island has more than 125 wild bird species. Some of the most rare bird species include Bonelli’s Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon and the Mediterranean Shag. Find more information from the Association of the Ecological Park of Tilos.

Hiking: Tilos hosts numerous paths ideal for lovers of hiking. (1) One of the most beautiful routes starts from the main road of the island towards the northeast. It is an old path that leads to the watchtower built from the Italians on the peak of Prophet Elias. The walk has big slopes, low vegetation and many rocks. It is considered of moderate difficulty. (2) Another interesting trail starts from the harbour of Livadia with signs towards the beach of Lethra. The route continues uphill and leads to the southwest direction of a small valley. From there, one can also reach the village of Mikro Horio. (3) It is also worth following the route that starts from Megalo Horio and leads to the Castle of Knights. Although the trail is uphill and quite tiring, the views will compensate you! Discover more hiking trails from the Official Website of Tilos.

Beaches

Agios Antonios is a sandy and pebbled beach with blue waters and palm trees located on the north side of the island. It is one of the longest beaches of Tilos ideal for those looking for tranquility. The surrounding area has taverns.

Agios Sergios is a pebbled beach with turquoise waters located on the south side of the island. It is an isolated beach ideal for nature lovers. The beach is either accessible through a rough path of by boat.

Eristos is a long sandy beach with emerald waters and tamarisk trees located on the west side of the island. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of the island ideal for those seeking for privacy. The beach is easily accessible. If you walk along the path at the left side of the beach, you will find two secluded coves with red soil.

Lethra is a pebbled beach with crystal clear waters and tamarisk trees located on the northeast side of the island. It is a secluded beach ideal for naturists. The beach is accessible through a path from the harbour of Livadia.

Limenari is a sandy and pebbled beach with turquoise waters located on the northwest side of the island. It is a secluded beach ideal for those looking for total isolation.

Livadia is a sandy and pebbled beach with crystal clear waters located on the southeast side of the island. It is the most popular beach of Tilos owing to the close proximity to the harbour. Livadia is well organized with numerous amenities including sunbeds, umbrellas and taverns.

Plaka is a long sandy and pebbled beach with blue waters and eucalyptus trees located on the northwest side of the island. It is a secluded beach that usually gets crowded in August. The beach is accessible through a path from Agios Antonios.

Skafi is a secluded sandy beach with crystal clear waters located on the north side of the island. It is a completely isolated beach with difficult access. The easiest way to access the beach is by boat.

Tholos is a sandy and pebbled beach with crystal clear waters located on the southeast side of the island. It is a beautiful beach surrounded from imposing reddish rocky cliffs. The easiest way to access the beach is by boat.

Coffee Corners, Gastronomic Delights & Cocktails Inspirations

Coffee Corners

En Plo: Coffee, Eristos

Sofia: Coffee and Pastries, Megalo Horio

To Mikro Kafe: Coffee and Snacks, Livadia

Gastronomic Delights

Armenon: Greek Cuisine, Livadia

Delfini: Seafood, Agios Antonios

Elpida: Seafood, Agios Antonios

Faros: Greek Cuisine, Livadia

Gorgona: Ouzo and Meze, Livadia

Kastro: Greek Cuisine, Megalo Horio

Nautilos: Greek Cuisine, Livadia

Omonoia: Greek Cuisine, Livadia

Cocktails Inspirations

Ino: Cocktails and Drinks, Livadia

Mikro Horio Bar: Cocktails and Drinks, Mikro Horio

Local Products & Specialties

The local products of the island include thyme honey and goat cheese.

The local specialties of the island include hondro, a dish made from chopped cooked wheat, giaprakia, a dish made from stuffed wine leaves with minced meat, tsouvra, a tomato soup, kavourna, a dish made from pork, and melekounia, a dish made from stuffed pouches with sesame and almonds.

Events & Festivals

Every 25th of July, the traditional celebration in honour of Agios Panteleimonas takes place in Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas. The feast hosts folklore events for three days.

Every 15th of August, the traditional celebration in honour of Virgin Mary takes place in the deserted village of Mikro Horio.

Every 23rd of August, the traditional celebration in honour of Panagia Kamariani takes place in the Church of Megalo Horio. The feast hosts traditional dancing and music along with traditional food specialties.

History & Mythology

Mythology

According to the legend, Tilos was the son of Alias and Apollo, who visited the island to collect herbs in order to cure his mother from a serious illness. After treating his mother, Tilos returned to the island and built a temple in honour of Apollo and Poseidon with the intention of expressing his gratitude. This is how the island got its name and became known for its healing properties of herbs!

History

Tilos was created after a territorial separation from the coast of Asia Minor six millions years ago. Paleontological findings of prehistoric elephants show that Tilos has been inhabited since the Neolithic period while archaeological excavations have proved that Mycenaean, Minoans and Pelasgians also lived on the island. Tilos was independent and issued its own coins until it became a member of the Athenian Alliance remaining dependent of Rhodes during the 5th century BC. Tilos was then conquered from the Roman and Byzantine Empires, reflecting to the rich prosperity of the island. However, the great earthquake of 550 AD destroyed the island. After the earthquake, Tilos followed the history of Rhodes while it constituted the Prefecture of Samos along with Kos and Samos. When the Knights of Rhodes inhabited the island, they built three castles until the Ottoman Empire took over in 1522, followed by the Italians. Tilos was reunited with Greece in March 1948.

Travel & Transport

By Boat (200 Nautical Miles): Tilos is accessible by boat from the harbour of Piraeus. The journey usually lasts from fifteen to fifteen hours. The quickest way to travel to Tilos is by airplane to the islands of Kos or Rhodes. The journey from these islands usually lasts from two to three hours. Book your tickets with Ferries-Booking.com!

Mysterious Greece Tips

An Experience in an Abandoned Medieval Village

Mikro Horio is a abandoned medieval village located alongside the road between Megalo Horio and Livadia. During the prewar period, the village used to be inhabited who were reduced from the migration to Athens, America, Australia and Rhodes. Out of 220 houses of Mikro Horio, one can still admire the well preserved walls of the houses along with the traces of the medieval tower on the highest point of the hill. The amphitheatrically formation and the road network of the settlement shows that the settlement was most probably organized in a single residential complex from the Knights of Saint John in the 15th century. A promenade around the area is arguable a unique experience. It is worth visiting the bar of Mikro Horio that operates in the area during the summer. It will be definitely a unique experience!

Another Abandoned Medieval Village?

There is one more abandoned village called Gera on the southeast side of the island. Gera used to be the agricultural premises of the residents of Mikro Horio who exploited the fertility of the surrounding cultivated areas.

Autumn and Spring in Tilos

The vivid colours of the wild flowers and the herbs on the mountains make Tilos an ideal destination for autumn and spring. Walking around the numerous paths will definitely fascinate nature lovers!

An Excursion to the Volcanic Island of Nisyros

Nisyros is a mysterious island of the Dodecanese that was captured from pirates, conquered from the knights and subjugated from the Turks, an island that hypnotizes the traveller from the captivating contrast between the lunar volcanic scenery of the inland and the surrounding fertile area of dark beaches and thermal springs. Nisyros shapes an exceptional character with its unique mystical beauty embellished with diversified landscapes of a seductive and idyllic volcano atmosphere. The island emits a distinctive charm that goes beyond natural beauty, possible due to the captivating energy vibes of the active volcano. The outstanding contrast between the volcanic colours of the volcano and the whitewashed houses of the Aegean will definitely amaze you while the lunar sceneries of the crater of the volcano with the odour of sulphur will make you want to hold your breath! Evident in every little stone, the volcanic composition of Nisyros has been originated from the massive eruptions millions of years ago. Fascinating contrasts between the dark brown earth and the deep blue sea forms a succession of darken seashores of extreme wild beauty. Nisyros is a truly genuine island with an unusual beauty. The captivating landscapes, the hypnotizing landscapes and the thermal springs might even feel like you have “Nisyriasi”: a word meaning a severe addiction to the volcanic energy of the island in the world of Nisyros!

Bird Watching in Tilos

Tilos constitutes a vast ecological park protected from the European Network of Natura 2000. The mountainous volumes and the beaches are inhabited from numerous species of rare bird species. The island has more than 125 wild bird species. Some of the most rare bird species include Bonelli’s Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon and the Mediterranean Shag. Find more information from the Association of the Ecological Park of Tilos.

Camping at Eristos Beach

Are you in love with nature? Then, Eristos beach is for you! The tiny deserted isle is ideal for free campers! Keep in mind, however, that free camping is prohibited from the State of Greece.

Cultural Events in the Theatre of Harkadio

The open theatre of Harkadio hosts numerous cultural events and local festivities during the summer!

Dedicate a Day to the Cave of Harkadio

The Cave of Harkadio is one of the most interesting caves of Greece located in the area of Messaria. The cave has a great paleontological interest hosting a series of volcanic material and phosphorous compounds that resemble fossilized bones. Archaeological excavations have brought to light numerous bones of dwarf elephants along with stone tools of the Neolithic period, which are displayed in the Paleontological Museum of Tilos. The municipality of the island constructed a stone theatre next to the cave that gave new dimensions to the importance of the area contributing to the understanding of palaeontology. From these findings, it is proved that the island was united with the coast of Asia Minor but it was disconnected six million years ago. When it was disconnected, the dwarf elephants had to adjust to the new environment in order to survive. Those were the last elephants lived in Europe. The Physiographic Museum of Vienna has dedicated a special section to the dwarf elephants of Tilos.

Ecotourism in Tilos

Tilos is an island of international importance for resident raptors and migratory bird species as a stopover between Africa and Europe. The island is characterized from six mountainous volumes with extensive coastal limestone cliffs and sixteen recognized biotopes. To this extend, the Tilos Park Association was formed in order to protect and preserve the pristine natural environment of the island. Tilos boasts 378 botanical species, 125 resident and migratory bird species and the endangered Mediterranean monk seal Monachus Monachus. Tilos has been declared as a special protection area from the European Network of Natura 2000.

Elephants in Europe?

Tilos has been dominated from many conquerors from different parts of the world leading to a mixture of cultural elements. However, the highlight of these is undoubtedly the findings of the prehistoric dwarf elephants that came to light after excavations in the cave of Harkadio. The cave is a place where the imagination of paleontology enthusiasts becomes thrilled, as it is the last place in Europe where dwarf elephants used to live 4.000 years ago, a remarkable phenomenon for the fauna of Europe!

Enjoy your Cocktail at the Bar of Mikro Horio

Can you imagine enjoying your cocktail in an abandoned medieval village? The bar of Mikro Horio is the best place to do so!

Explore Tilos by Boat

Hop into a boat to discover the diversified coastline of Tilos! One will have the opportunity to discover the inaccessible beaches of the island including Agios Sergios, Skafi and Tholos. Excursion boats operate from the harbour of Livadia.

Observing Like an Olympian God

Climb up to the castle of Agiosykia in Livadia and the castle of the Knights in Megalo Horio to enjoy the fabulous panoramic views of Tilos!

Participate in the Celebration of Agios Panteleimonas

The biggest festival of the island is held in honor of Agios Panteleimonas from July 25 to July 27. The monastery of Agios Panteleimonas is the most important pilgrimage center of Tilos that distinguishes for its fortified architecture, its pebbled courtyards and its impressive wall paintings.

Photo Credits

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Note: All the images are copyrighted from their owners. Please see Terms & Conditions. You can find the original images at the following links:

Chapel of Agios Nikolaos: Ann-Kristin from Flickr

Crystal Waters: Anna by Flickr

Eristos beach: Claudio Bertocchi by Flickr

Lethra and Red beach: Dessilvia by Panoramio

Limenari beach: Claudio Bertocchi by Panoramio

Livadia Harbour: Constantine Mentzelopoulos by Flickr

Megalo Horio Village: Constantine Alexander M by Flickr

Mikro Horio: Ioannis Christodoulou by Panoramio

Poppies: Constantine Alexander M by Flickr

Seashore: Zoe Kourounakou

Tholos beach: Claudio Bertocchi by Panoramio

View from the castle of the Knights: Ann-Kristin by Flickr