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History of Nisiros

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Nisyros is one of the most beautiful Aegean islands, still untouched by the tourism growth.According to mythology, this island was created from the Battle of Giants, during the war between Gods and Giants. Poseidon pursued the Giant, Polyvotis up to Kos island, cut a part of it and threw it to his enemy, sinking him for ever in the bottom of the Aegean Sea. The legendary rock is the modern Nisyros and it is said that the volcano’s explosions are the angry breathing of the defeated Giant. These explosions shaped Nisyros, which is considered to be the youngest volcanic centre in Greece, still active – along with the volcanoes of Mylos, Santorini and Methanoi. During antiquity the island had a prosperous obsidian commerce, extracted by the inhabitants of Nisyros, from the near island, Gyali. The island extends over a surface of 41 km2, its coastline is 28 km long and it has 1,000 inhabitants. It can be reached by ferry from Kos and Rhodes.

According to mythology, Nissyros was originally one with Kos. When the battle between the Gods and the Titans broke out, Poseidon chased the giant Polyvotis and finally caught up with him on Kos, where he impaled him with his trident. The strike was so strong, that part of the island split, creating the island Nissyros. The Giant can still be heard sighing through the volcano. Another myth has it that the first king of the island was Thessalos, son of Heracles.
The island was originally called Porphyris ("Red Island") after the red colour that was produced here by boiling a special shell.
Peoples from Asia Minor settled on Nissyros in the 2nd Millenia BC, and from an early stage they traded with the surrounding islands and Crete. According to Homer, the men of the island fought in the Trojan war.
In 1312 the Knights of St. John took hold of the island, and two years later, the Venetians settled here. Pirates kept raiding the island and several fortresses were built.

Nisyros was taken by the Turks in the early 16th century, and was given to the Italians in 1912. It was finally liberated in 1948, after both German and British soldiers had occupied the island during World War II.

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