Name almost anywhere in Greece and you can link to that place a rich history that goes back to the days before Alexander the Great. Thetiny village of Sivota in the north west of mainland Greece is no exception,with stories of conquest and betrayal that stretch back more than 2000 years. One of the earliest mentions of Sivota is as the site of a major naval battle in the Pelopennesian war in 433 BC, when the forces of Kerkyra (Corfu) squared up to the combined might of the Corinthians and the Threspotians.
More recently it was known as Mourtos during the 500 year period of Ottoman rule which ended in 1913 with the Balkan Wars. It was later home to an Albanian population which was expelled in 1944 for its support of the Nazi invaders.
Visit Sivota now and you’ll soon see evidence of the region’s past importance. On a nearby hilltop you can find an ancient acropolis. Close to this, an abandoned settlement of around fifty 18th-19th century houses. And out in the bay on Mavro Oros, one of two islands clearly seen from the shoreline you’ll see an Ottoman era lighthouse that was built by the French in 1884.
Today Sivota has a population of barely 3,000. It is hardly geared up to accommodate mass tourism but this is what makes the small resort a favourite with those who visit. Sivota is a popular destination for Greek tourists and is known domestically for the outstanding quality of its beaches; not a bad commendation in a nation with around 15,000 kilometres of coastline.
Tourism remains low key in Sivota, with most visitors content to fall in with the slow pace of life that the local residents enjoy. A stroll to the nearby beaches is a popular activity while boat trips to the tiny islands of Mavro Oros and Agios Nikolaos in the bay are readily available. For those wanting to go a little further afield boats also make the trip north to Paxos and even to Corfu. Buses do trundle up and down the coast but are infrequent and not set up for tourists trying to make day excursions; to do this a car will be a more practical option.
For most tourists renting a cycle offers a fun and easy way to get around the village of Sivota and its immediate surroundings. Whichever way you choose to explore the area in and around Sivota you’re likely to be captivated by its understated and authentic charm – you might just decide to keep the secret of this little corner of Greece to yourself!