History of Kythira


Minoan Peak Sanctuary

Clay pot of the first Minoan peak sanctuary in Greece, at Agios Georgios mountain.



Under presumed that there was a temple of Aphrodite.



Byzantine castle city, the first capital of the island called Agios Dimitrios.

Kato chora

Kato Chora of Mylopotamos

The gate of the Venetian castle with medieval houses, and on the right the English school.


Castle Choras

The large Venetian castle of Chora the capital of Kythira.

Mythology - Classical period.

Hesiod in his Theogony says that Saturn in the struggle for power cut off the genitals of his father Uranus, which fell into the Sea of ​​Kythira. From the foam created the Goddess Aphrodite was born. Then the waves swept the Goddess in Cyprus, where he also worshiped as a goddess and protector of the island. The interpretation - aposymvolismos the Myth refers to geological changes which have resulted in the emergence of the island from the sea. In this testimony to the large number of paleontological discoveries Mitata and Viaradika, coming from Sea. The first pairing of Venus with Kythira become to the Orphic stating as "Goddess of Love Kythereia nurse." Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty more and illicit lovemaking and, less commonly protected the marital life. Sacred symbols were the white doves, a pair of pigeons dragged the chariot. Symbols were also apple, poppy, pomegranate blossom, rose, myrtle and anemone.

Minoan On the basis of archaeological surveys (Diakofti, Dragonares, St. George Mountain, etc.), the island was inhabited before 3000 BC, during the Minoan (3000-1200 BC) and Mycenaean period (1400-1100 BC) was the center block and the Minoans station while traveling from Crete to the Peloponnese, but until the current the UK. The first examples of local pottery dating back to 3000 BC its main characteristic quality of the local clay, then the Kethereans potters influenced by the Minoans as the finds from the tomb of Lyon, just outside. Homer mentions in his epics that came from Kythira heroes Lykofronas and Amfidamantas, and there spent the first days of their love Paris and the beautiful Helen.

Kythira, because of their strategic position at the entrance of the Laconian Gulf, were often the subject of dispute between Athens and Sparta, the control of which lies mostly. But the Athenians took the island several times (456 example with Tolmidi, 424 eg with Nicias, and Nikostratos autoclave and 394 eg with Conon and Pharnabazus during Persoathinaikis alliance) and install guard in this filospartiatikes evicting the authorities.
In the arts, in classical times, Kythira highlighted the poet Xenodamos, who was considered tantamount Pindar (6th century BC), the famous dithyramb Filoxenos (5th century BC) and Ptolemy the poet, the Hermogenes sculptor and musician Alexander. After the Peloponnesian War and the Decline of Sparta and Athens that followed, Kythira and they lost their importance and fell into a long decline.

Roman era.

During the Roman era, continued to be inhabited clear evidence of sporadic writers (Plutarch, Dio Cassius, Strabo), and the few archaeological findings that date back to this period. From the 2nd AD century, the age of which is placed an inscription stating that the locals honor the Roman Emperor Trajan, until the 6th century AD Kythira not mentioned in the sources and seems to have crossed a long period of desolation or sparse habitation. This follows from the Holy synaxarion Elesas, allegedly Sports and martyred in the 4th island. To martyrdom of states that followed a small wave of pilgrims from the Peloponnese, who went and settled on the island.

Byzantine and Medieval times.

The first official reference in Kythira during Byzantine times is that of the 530, where the island is mentioned among the regions subject to the throne of Constantinople, and in the same century as the seat indicated Metropolis. Has expressed the view that Metropolitan was likely to be titular, ie to bore the title had no flock, but the view is in contrast to recent archaeological discoveries and historical researches, from which evidence of habitation in the 6th century at least two areas of the island. The fragments of early Christian mosaic floor of the Church of St. John in the River (Collection of Byzantine Art in the Meadow), dating to the early 6th century mosaic floor of the church of St. George Mountain, which also dates back to the 6th century.
The lack of other evidence and limited references to sources of Kythira during the years 6th-10th century, perhaps suggesting that housing is not systematic and probably limited, but certainly can not speak for complete devastation. Certainly the presence of Norman and Arab pirates in the region over the years have resulted in devastation Kythira for long periods, as the island was vulnerable to raids and used many times as a base for pirates.

Paleochora The turning point in more organized habitation of Kythira seems to be the sport of St. Theodore on the island, where after his death (922), displayed significant number of new residents in Kythira. According to the Holy synaxarion, the island at the time of his arrival in Kythira is desert residents because of pirates. Of these years, however, until the 11th century, there are still historical information and assumptions about Kythira at this time based on the study of Byzantine churches on the island, some of which are believed to date back construction until the 9th or 10th century (Agios Andreas in Livadi).
New systematic occupation of Kythira seems to begin after the 10th century, according to the study of many churches dating to the island and intensified during the 13th century. According to tradition, the Paliochora was built by Byzantine settlers in the late 13th century. When the island was re conquered by the Byzantines (in 1275) for a short time, after a brief Venetian occupation (1236-1275), he number of settlers from Constantinople during the reign of Michael VIII Palaeologus. Kythira recaptured by the Venetians in 1930 and has since left the sovereignty until the overthrow of the Venetian Republic in 1797 and are one of the few Greek areas which remained long and uninterrupted the Venetian domination, apart from a brief occupation of the island by the Turks between 1715-1718.

The Byzantine capital of Kythira, Agios Dimitrios (Paliochora today), which was built in the natural bastion to protect them from pirates, finally destroyed by attack of 1537, by the pirate Barbarossa Chaiderin who was in the service of the Turkish sultan . Then the little town was burned and residents who were not killed were sold into slavery and the place never never rebuilt. It is said that Barbarossa then captured and castles Kapsali and Mylopotamos, but this probably should not be considered valid, since there are no conclusive information on contemporary sources. While stating that then inhabited the Paliochora 7,000 people, the number is excessive for the size of the village and the castle, and the desolation referred to the island since the raid should not be considered universal. Soon even the Venetian state launched a campaign in order to repopulated the island with new settlers, and the acquisition of many of the then aichmalotisthentes inhabitants from pirates.

Leo Venice After the Venetians in 1530 assuming all the rights and powers of the Venier family, ruled the island along the lines of feudalism, as in other Ionian Islands. This period was very oppressive for residents. All the arable land belonged to nobles (Greek or Venetian origin) and there was a complete lack of administration of law, and to move away from the island for any reason require the permission of the authorities. Securing little arable land, forcing the villagers to use small pieces of a few square meters, roughly walled which still stand on the island. The successive partitions of land for farming contract and hereditary reasons, resulted in lead both small properties who were able to give the most general characterization for each small property "Merton ruined!"
The long Venetian presence in Kythira was natural to leave visible traces of which are still visible today in the language and architecture. Of particular interest are the relations with the island, with refugees from Crete and the Peloponnese throughout the duration of the Venetian period, during which formed the main body of the families on the island, many of them arriving today.

Throughout the period of Venetian domination characteristic wound to the island proved piracy. Frequently pirates plundering literally the place, and it is not at all rare and cases of cooperation of the local population with pirate groups, especially Christians pirates acted to narrow the Peloponnese and Crete, as well as representatives of the Venetian where remote dependencies, such as Kythira, not abstain from cooperation with pirates on the sale of pirate booty. The island was remote from the centers of Venetian power and were not rare and forbearance towards piracy of local power or cooperation with pirated interests, as it is said that the important part of pirate booty was sold in the market on the island.
In 1752 reported a large raid Algerian pirates, slaves who took many residents of Kythira. Insecurity along the indifference of authorities Venetian and repression of local rulers, led in 1780 to a rebellion and attempted assassination Intendant Peter Marcello, who, however, managed to escape.
The end of 18th century, with the presence of competing uniforms of major powers in the region, narrowed gradually pirate action, to disappear almost completely with the entry of the 19th century and the Napoleonic wars.

19th Century, British rule, Union with Greece.

At the end of the 18th century, the predominance of the French Revolution and then of Napoleon, and the collapse of Venice, brought to the island to the French, who took over in 1797. Establishment of a democratic polity and burned in an official ceremony books of nobility (Libro d 'oro), giving people hope for justice and freedom. A year later, however, the Russians, in alliance with the Turks became masters of the island expelled the French from that, but failed to keep them for a long.
In 1800 the Treaty of Constantinople, was the semi-independent state of the Ionian Islands, which included Kythira. The agreement included the requirement of maintaining the privileges of the nobility, this caused the revolt of the bourgeoisie and peasants. The departure of the small garrison of Russians and Turks led the peasants in an armed uprising, which ended on 22 July 1800 in the massacre of some of the most powerful nobles of Kythira in the palace of the Governor, on the Castle of Kythira and the looting of their homes and looting of their property. For a relatively long time there were no coordinates powers Kythira and the villagers, who have won charter by means of progressive and noble Emm Kaloutsi, transferred the seat of power, initially Mylopotamos and later in Aroniadika. Indeed formed and a special court, sitting outdoors and relieved of any responsibility for the murders of the nobles and the appropriation of their property. This period, during which there was no central authority on the island, called the period of anarchy and saved and published several interesting papers of this era from the Archive of Kythira.

At the end of 1802 the Ionian Senate sent a strong military force in Kythira led by Eustace Metaxas, who eventually imposed order by arresting the ringleaders of the revolt of 1800, of whom indeed, Demetrius Belessi sentenced to death and executed in 1805. In the same year, with the intervention of the Tsar of Russia, given constitution and founded the Republic of the Seven Islands, which includes the island of Kythira, which was essentially the first Greek state. This constitution was abolished and the rights of hereditary aristocracy.
In 1807, the Treaty of Tilsit Kythira ceded back to France, whose power remained until 1809, when British troops occupied the island from the French, like the other Ionian Islands, to then begin the long period of British rule in Kythira. After eight long years, the British granted a constitution in the Ionian Islands, which was run by one Commissioner from Corfu and deputies in each island. The regiment was quite liberal and allow the expression of different political views in the Ionian parliament.

Katouni With the Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece in 1864 Kythira followed the fortunes of most of the Greek state.
During the British rule were many public projects in Kythira, which have survived until today. Most were in the process of requisition of labor and requisition of vehicles (chore). Then constructed in quarantine (Lazareta) Kapsali, began making the main street and built roads to link the four apartments, which had been divided administratively Island (meadow, Kastrisianika, Mylopotamos and rivers). The impressive work of this period is in Katouni bridge, designed by Englishman John Makfeil chief engineer, deputy High Commissioner of Kythera and was part of the road-Avlemonas Livadi. There were still many other bridges (river, bilberry, Kapsali), the Central Market in the Country (Markato), water and sanitation projects and built bars along the main street. At the same time were constructed lighthouses Kapsali and reefed Karavas. Major projects are school buildings constructed then, many of which survive today (Mylopotamos, Agii Theodori, River, Milapideas Livadi, Country, Fratsia). Indeed, the British, to convince parents to send their children to school, they used various tricks, such as exempting transport from the drudgery of life, as many more parents wanted their children to help in agricultural work. This had a positive effect Kythira had the largest number of girls in school by all the Ionian Islands.
Important measures were still British authorities for self-sufficiency in primary products (oil, wheat, wine) and then observed a large increase in planting olive trees and vines, because the motivation for this.

The existence of the English administration led to resort to Kythira, especially during the War of 1821, but before that, scholars and activists, like Gregory Konstantas, Dionysius the Thessalos Pyrrhus, Theodoros Kolokotronis, etc. Later the same thing happened during the Cretan Revolution, when many Cretans found shelter for themselves or their families in Kythira, with which also the relations of Crete was always close and bidirectional. In Kythira then fled, several times in fact, Eleftherios Venizelos, at a young age, he was indeed in Meadow during the years 1877-8, while his first wife was Kytherian origin, gender Katelouzou.

 During the era of British rule intensified cowardly trend that had begun in the last years of Venetian rule for migration in Smyrna. The rapid increase in population due to the security situation, but also the improvement of living conditions, resulted in the volume of immigration, because, despite the prevalence of better conditions, the island is abundant enough for both populations. Smyrna special recognition privileges apply to the British and citizens of the Ionian Islands, resulted in not only the rapid increase in the number of Kythirion seeking their fortune there, but their impressive march to the local economy where emerged champions in shipping, trade and craft thus attracting more and more new immigrants from the island. At the same time began the migration to America and Australia, who was to later lead thousands Kytherians these new host countries.

20th Century.

ΤThe main feature of the 20th century in Kythira is the great migration from the middle of which began the intense emigration to Smyrna. The large presence Kytherian origin population in Smyrna, who reached the age of Catastrophe in 1922 to number 14,000 people and was the largest group of the Greek origin population. The Kytherian community had its own schools and churches and had significant involvement in nursing homes and hospitals, which were dependent on the prosperity that came from its successful presence Kythirion the economic life of the country. Unfortunately a living part of Kytherian Diaspora had luck the rest of the Greek element in the region after the tragic disaster of 1922. Most Kethereans refugees who escaped from the Turkish atrocities were scattered almost all over the world. Main destinations were physically, Greece, Egypt and Australia in the second phase. In Kythira then reached a few hundred refugees from Smyrna most.
The wave of immigration had already intensified since the early years of the 20th century and large groups Kythirion found in the U.S. and Australia, where he quickly established many clubs with their hallmark nostalgia and love of their members for the homeland, which was very difficult to visit because of the transportation conditions of the time. It is worth noting that most immigrants were leaving without their families, who were already family and many of them never turned back. During the Balkan wars of 1912-3 when hundreds flocked to Greece volunteers from the U.S. mainly to serve their country in the critical period of the war. Many of them, who had not reached the place where they had found refuge then a specious excuse to return.

In the First World War Kythira spent a oligomini but memorable adventure, when they joined the movement of Venizelos and served for some time autonomous region with its own administration and services and strong ties to the interwar Crete and Great Britain, which strengthened the movement of El.Venizelou. then even the peculiar arrangement Kytherian state and had declared war (!) in Germany on accepting the decrees of Venizelos, in one version, after the triumph of Venizelos and the removal of the king, when dissolved and autonomous administration of Kythira local authorities 'forgot' to restore things in Germany.
In the German-Italian occupation that followed the Second World War, the island's population rose to 15,000 people. Originally the island was occupied by the Italians and later handed over to the Germans, who built small bases Kapsali (neck), Agia Elesa and Karavas.
Kythira was the first part of the Greek land vacated by the occupation forces. Allied forces (mostly British), with Greek participation ships arrived in Avlemonas from the Middle East and on September 15, 1944 landed in Kapsali.

Μετανάστες Immediately after having a new immigration wave, more intense than ever, Kythira and swept two decades literally deserted island, leaving deserted villages and uncultivated land. Compact groups fled towards two main directions. Interior to Athens and Piraeus, which already had great success with active group Kythirion the end of last century and external to Australia, where most arriving by the hundreds, the Kytherian. Reached so the Kytherian origin population in this country to run on the principles of 60,000 people in.
The fact that the island was a crossroads of cultures and retained much of its cultural heritage led to the proclamation of a cultural monument in Europe.

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