Destinations, Ionian Islands

Kythira

Kythira

The island of Kythira is located in the south of the Peloponnese where the Ionian, Aegean and Cretan seas are located.

According to Hesiodos, the goddess Aphrodite was born in the sea of ​​Kythira. Gea, wanting to punish her husband Uranus for forcing her to keep her children inside her womb, asked them to help him kill his father. Kronos asked his mother for a sickle and cut off his father’s genitals, which fell into the sea of ​​Kythira. From its foam, which was carried by the wind to Cyprus, was born Aphrodite.

In Kythira, it is worth visiting some of its typical villages like Fratsia, Mitata, Agia Pelagia, Livadi with its windmills, Avlemonas with its fortress and its beautiful beach. The fortresses of Chora and Agios Dimitrios. In the town of Mylopotamos, you can also visit the waterfall, the fortress and the cave of Agia Sofia.

Other beaches on the island of Kythira are Kapsali, Melidoni, Limnaria, Diakofti and Kaladi.

A bit of Kythira history

Kythira occupies a very important geostrategic position. That was the key for all the countries to which it belonged during its history.

The Minoan civilization, at the end of the third millennium, extends its dominions to Kythira and controls the zone. The Mycenaeans come to the island just after. The Dorians appear on the scene with the decline of the Mycenaean kingdoms around the 12th century BC. The arrival of the Phoenicians, who make the purple and produce the dark red color that constitutes a very valuable export product, is not exactly known. This is when Kythira is called Porfyris or Porfyrisa.

In the middle of the 6th century A. C., after the occupation of mount Parnon, Sparta puts Kythira under its dominion. In 424, during the Peloponnesian War, the Athenians occupied the island, which in 421 with the peace of Nicias was again granted to the Spartans. In the second century A. C., Kythira becomes independent and owns its own currency.

From 395 D.C. and hereafter Kythira belongs to the Eastern Roman Empire.

The island for almost three centuries disappears from the eyes of the world. Crete from 825 onwards is under the complete mastery of the Arabs and the Berber pirates, attacked and sowed fear in the sea of ​​Kythira. Because of the piracy and incursions of the Arabs in the eastern Mediterranean could not be inhabited in the coastal area of ​​the island. In 961, the Byzantines under the command of Nicephorus Fokas recover Crete from the Arabs. In Century XII the Evdemonogianis of Monemvasia arrive at Kythira and remain until 1204. The first urban installation is that of Kolokithia, in the present bay of Agia Patrikia, nevertheless the castle was constructed in the present Paleochora. From the tenth century, D. C. Christian churches are constructed like the one of Agios Andreas in Livadi and the one of Agios Dimitrios in Purco. The population is growing. In the 13th century, after the fourth Crusade, the Venetians seized Kythira along with other islands and areas of Greek territory. The State of Venice establishes the Venier on the island in 1207. The Venier patricians receive Kythira and Western Crete and dominate the place for many years.

From 1207 begins the period of six centuries during which Kythira and the Ionian Islands will remain under Venetian rule. From 1275 to 1308 the Byzantines recovered the island and expelled the Venier. Nevertheless, these return to the island after 1308, to colonize the island with new populations. The noble class is installed in the new city of Kythira, which is the present capital. In the 16th century, the population was close to 4000 inhabitants. The inhabitants create three urban poles for their better fortification and organization against the attacks of the pirates. The three organized and fortified populations are Agios Dimitrios in present-day Paleochora, Milopotamos in Kato Chora and Chora, the present capital.

In 1537 Jeirredin Barbarossa, Admiral of the Ottoman Empire and privateer of the Berber coasts destroys and looted Paleochora, his pirates kill the civilian population and sell many of the captured as slaves. Paleochora is abandoned completely. In the last years of the Venetian occupation, the population reaches 7500 inhabitants. The island remained under the command of the Venetians until the abolition of its state by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797. Since then, with the Treaty of Campo Formio, the island of Kythira and all the Ionian Islands passed into French hands. In 1797 Vincenzo Reno occupies Kythira and the new bourgeois class together with the farmers burn in the square of Estavromenos the “Book of Gold”, the book of the nobles.

The French in 1798 plant the Tree of Liberty in the square of Estavromenos in Chora and proclaim the ideals of the French Revolution, “Freedom, Equality, Fraternity”. Meanwhile, the emigration of the Kytherians to Smyrna begins. After a short time, between 1798 and 1799, Turks and Russians ally to occupy the Ionian Islands and Kythira. Then, with the Treaty of Tilsitt in 1807, the islands pass to the French for two more years (1807-1809) until the British period. With the Treaty of Paris, on November 20, 1815, the “Republic of the Ionian Islands” was formed, with Corfu as its capital.

During the Greek Revolution of 1821, many refugees from the Peloponnese met in Kythira, on the contrary, others went to the Peloponnese to assist in the war of independence. The following years, after the release, many inhabitants cross the sea looking for work in the free Greek state, in Crete or in Smyrna. On 28 May 1864, the Ionian Islands joined liberated Greece. Kythira belonged for a time administratively to the province of Argos and Corinth, to the one of Laconia, but also constituted a proper province together with Antikythira until joining in the province of Attica to which they belong until today.

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