History of Paros
Paros is located at the heart of the island complex of Cyclades and is one of the most popular holiday destinations due to its exceptional natural beauty, vast sandy beaches, crystal-blue waters and impressive landscapes. The island extends over a surface of 195 km2, its coastline is 120 km long and it has 12,800 inhabitants. It is a cosmopolitan resort with a well-developed tourist infrastructure.
Paros was an administrative and trading center of the Aegean Sea and also the apple of discord for many conquerors (Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians and Turks) that left their mark on the island. Paros was very prosperous during some periods, as indicate the ruins of archaeological sites and the remarkable historical monuments, which are scattered on the island. During the ancient times Paros was famous for its marble, which decorated remarkable monuments. Some of the most eminent sculptors, painters and ancient Greek poets come from Paros. In 1207 Paros formed part of the Duchy of the Aegean and was passed over to the Turks in 1537.
Paros has been inhabited since at least 4000BC. It started flourishing around 3000BC, and all over the Cyclades the Parian marble can be found from this time. The island was then called Minoa which indicates that the island's civilization was Minoan (Cretan) then. Later on, the Parian marble was to be used in Delphi, Delos and the temple of Poseidon in Sounio.
The earliest people we know of living on the island was a tribe from Peloponnesos, the Arcades. Mixing with the Ionians they became a strong force in the area of the Cyclades. They traded their marble with the Phoenicians, and until the 6th century BC they had great power in the Aegean sea, with colonies on Thassos and other places.
Paros was defeated by Naxos at this time, and lost its position. It still held a strong cultural foothold though with a school for sculptors. When the Persian wars began, Paros initially fought with the Persians against Athens. After the Persian defeat at Salamis, Paros joined the Athenian league.
Towards the end of the Classical period Paros was ruled by Sparta, then the Macedonians and finally the Romans. Chistianity came to Paros around AD300. St Helen (Ag Eleni) then had a church built to the Virgin Mary, Katapolianis. You can still see the first baptismal font there. This church is also called the church of 100 doors and according to an old legend Greece will conquer Istanbul when the 100th door is found.
During the Byzantine period Paros continued to be an important place because of its marbles, but around 900 the island was totally deserted when the Arabs invaded. It was repopulated though and came under Venetian rule in the beginning of the 13th century.
During the Turkish rule the islanders were heavily taxed, but allowed much freedom. The islanders built many churches and monasteries during this time. Paros took a strong part of the Greek revolution against the Turks in 1821 and was soon freed.
The two most famous names from Paros are Archilochus, lyrical poet in the 7th century BC, and Scopas, sculptor & architect from the 4th century BC.