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History of Kythira

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A major tourist destination, which combines well-known sights, such as the medieval Mystras, the tower city of Monemvasia and the tower houses of Mani, with landscapes of exceptional natural beauty, such as the Diros Caves, Mt. Taygetus and Cape Tenaro. It was already inhabited from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, whilst later the tribes of Leleges, Achaeans and Iones were settled. The Dorians arrive in 1100 B.C. and make Sparta as their capital, which for centuries, along with Athens, constitute one of the most powerful cities-states of Ancient Greece, until its conquest by the Romans and, later on, by the Francs and the Turks. An enchanting small city, built in front of an imposing medieval castle. The white traditional houses and its narrow alleys give an intense islander colour.

The Kytherian sea is the birthplace of goddess Aphrodite in the Hesiodus fable. Gaia (Earth) wanted to punish her husband Uranus ( Sky) for all the evils he had caused to her. Called her children and asked them to kill their father. Cronus took from the depths of his mother a scythe and killed him cutting his divine parts. They fell in the sea of Kythera and became two islets (possibly Dragonares). The falling blood, touched upon the sea foams and by this fusion of the elements Urania Aphrodite, was born. She did not stay on Kythera. She travelled to Cyprus in a big shell and stayed there. The symbolism of Aphrodite and Kythera survived through the centuries and reached the 18 th in order to be portrayed in paintings as the "embarkation for Kythera" of Jean - Antoine Vato , to be written in the poetry of Renaissance, to occupy Charles Baudelaire of the 19 century and to continue in the cinematography of Theodoros Aggelopoulos. This symbolism will never die, as long as people search the distant and desirable idea.
Kythera is the crossroad of Mediterranean cultures. It was always the hospitable shelter of corsairs, colonists, ascetics and persecuted. Kythera was inhabited during the Neolithic age and later. Many potsherds from the copper age, early - Helladic and early - Minoan ages are "sleeping" under the earth of Kythera. Others lying on the surface, are watching the eternal course of sun and moon in the sky. Near the twentieth century B.C. Minoans dominate on the island and govern the surrounded area. One of the earliest Minoan colonies, is located in Kastri, known today Paleopoli. Skandia is the seaport of the colony. I n the mountain of Agjos Georgios, archaeologists found the traces of Minoan temple and drinking-offering vessels, stone-artefacts, cupreous figurines. Phoenicians keep a colony on the island at the 15th century B.C. processing purple (porphyra) to produce the deep red colour that they use in clothes. So they have laboratories for the purple treatment. Ancient Kythera is namedPorphyris or Porphyrousa these years. According to Herodotus, the foundation of a temple dedicated to Aphrodite is owed to Phoenicians who imported the adoration of an alike goddess from the east. After Minoans and Phoenicians there were Myceneans who came in the island at the 14th century. Although Spartans possessed the Kythera island since the 6th century B.C. till the Classic years, Athenians came enough times to claim Kythera, more specifically at the season of Peloponnesian Wars. The continuous changes of possession of Kythera from Athenians and Spartans will lead to peace in 421 B.C. In the region Kastri a lot of Athenian and Spartan potsherds testify the fact. Apart from Aphrodite, Dioscouri are worshipped on Kythera. The age of Macedonians follows and afterwards the Romanian Empire. In 365 A.C. an earthquake affected the island with dramatic geomorphic changes in the region of Skandia.
Since the 6th century Kythera, as all Mediterranean area, belong to Byzantium and the intense religiosity appears at least in three hundred monuments and temples. In 1000 A.C. the island is depopulated. The Evdemonogiannis families from Monemvasia come in the island after one century and remain the only dominants until 1204 . They built the settlement of Agios Dimitrios in Paleochora. An old legend says that Paleochora had 365 temples, one for each day of the year. Powerful Venetians blaming Kythera with other islands and regions of hellenic space. The Venetian state installs the Venieri family in the island which governed it for many years. In 1238 Nikolaos Evdemonogiannis is looking the Venetian sovereignty in the regions, weds his daughter with the Venetian feudal lord of Crete Mark Venier. However, Kythera remain nominally in the sovereignty of Venice . By the emperor of Byzantium Michael PaleologosKythera is recovered by Constantinople . Monemvasians with the members of the family Notaras at the head, impose the anti-Latin policy low of byzantine emperor in 1275. They restore the island in the Byzantine control and turn away the Venieri family . Later Venetians come back making war in all the Aegean sea . Notaras retire. During the Venetian age on Kythera the orthodox faith isn’t oppressed. Venetians respected the religious culture of the island. In 1470 the island had only 500 residents who live in poor years. The population reaches the 4000 residents in the 16th century. The residents in order to protect themselves, are organised in three central points on the island. The castles of Kythera(Chora), Agios Dimitrios (Paleochora) and Mylopotamos shelter and protect the population. In 1537 the janissary Hayredin Barbarossa, one of the most terrible pirates of Mediterranean destroys, sacks Paleochora that was drowned in blood. The 17th century a lot of refugees come from Crete in the island, carrying customs, habits and culture. In 1715 Turks touch upon Kythera. They do not stay more than three years. During the last years of Venetian sovereignty in the island the residents population will reach the 7500. The island belongs to Venetians up to the catalysis of the state in 1797.
In 1798 Frenches, who are in the highlight of their glory, come to Kythera. Afterwards, Russians andTurks will ally in order to conquer the island and control the seas. In1798 a strong earthquake, will destroy everything in the Kastri region, Skandia. In 1809 English regenerate the island with tens of works, but oppress the Greek culture. It is in 1815 that Kythera with all the Ionian islands will constitute the United State of Ionian Islands and the capital is Corfu . In 1864 the Ionian islands get linked to independent Greece . In 1903 a devastatingearthquake, with seismic focus in Mitata, levels everything in the wider region. In 1917 Kythera existed also as "Autonomous Administration" for a short interval of time. In the Second World War Kytherians participated dynamically in the National Resistance. Rebel forces are organised in Potamos village limits the control of the island against the Germans. Since 4 September 1944 the island is the first region of Greece that is released. However, it depopulates. Most young people emigrate, to Australia and the United States of America .

Walking in Diakofti Kithira
The main port of the island is a touristic settlement with beautiful beaches and very good taverns. It is located 30 km NE of Chora.

Sightseeing
The bridge connecting the settlement to Makronisos
Feidonisi islet
Aghia Moni monastery The modern church was built in 1840 and from there you can see Diakofti, Avlemona and the Peloponnesian coasts
Aghios Georgios tou Vounou on your way to Avlemona
Travelling to Chora of Kithira
The medieval castle of 1503. It dominates on a hill at the end of Chora and has amazing view of the Cretan sea. Byzantine churches, as well as the mansion of Agglonarmostis which nowadays houses the Historic Archive of Kythira are still preserved.

The Byzantine churches in the castle “Mesa Vourgo”
The central square with the bars, coffee houses and the amazing view.
Aghios Markos Catholic church
The Archeological Museum with its small but remarkable collection of findings from the Mycenaean times up to the Byzantine period
Aghia Pelagia chapel built in a cave at Feloti bay with its beautiful beach.

Events

Easter is a beautiful celebration in Chora, with an impressive Resurrection ceremony at Panagia Mirtidiotissa church. The icon procession which departs from the monastery and ends up in Chora starts on Easter Sunday. The icon is processed again around Chora and afterwards comes a big feast. The second day of Easter the icon is taken from Chora and for 25 days people process it around the villages of the island just to end up again at the monastery. Wherever the icon arrives a great celebration takes place.
Many cultural events with concerts, exhibitions and traditional dances are also organized during August.
Walking in Milopotamo Kithira
It has a particularly interesting architecture, rich vegetation and running waters, while during the Venetian occupation it was the center of one of the administrative regions of the island.It is located 15 km NW of Chora.

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