Ios (Ίος, , locally Nios Νιός) is a Greek island in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea. Ios is a hilly island with cliffs down to the sea on most sides, situated halfway between Naxos Island and Santorini. It is about long and wide, with an area of .
Population was 2,024 in 2011 (down from 3,500 in the 19th century). Ios is part of the Thira regional unit. [ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior ]
The Port of Ios is at the head of the Ormos harbour in the northwest. There is a path up the nearby hill to Chora, the Greek word on every island for the main village. Chora is a white and cycladic
village, full of stairs and narrow paths that make it inaccessible for cars
of any kind. Today, the main path through this village is completely taken over by tourism in terms of restaurants, boutiques, bars and discothèques. Apart from the port and the village of Chora, Ios has a few small settlements, just a group of spread out houses in the background of major beaches (Theodoti, Kalamos, Manganari). Since the 1990s, the island mayor Pousseos has worked on Ios' development towards attracting different types of Tourism
. With the help of European Community funds some roads have been built, all of them paved, and a scenic amphitheatre was created by the German architect Peter Haupt at the top of the village hill.
According to Plutarch
it is thought that the name has derived from the Ancient Greek word for violets "Ία"(Ia) because they were commonly found on the island
and it is the most accepted etymology. Others say that the name is derived from Phoenician word iion, meaning “pile of stones” but Pliny the Elder writes that the name comes from the Ionians
which lived in the island.
In the Ottoman period the island was called Anza or Aina, and its present name was officialy established in the 19th century after over 2000 years of usage. During the ancient times the island was also called "Φοινίκη" (Phiniki), named after and by the Phoenicians
and in the 3rd century, when the island joined League of the Islanders was probably temporarily named Arsinoe I
after the wife of Ptolemy II
Today the inhabitants of the Cycladic Islands call the island Nio, a name deriving from the Byzantine Era.
The name Little Malta, which is found in texts of travelers during the Ottoman domination, is related to the permanent presence of pirates on the island.
Geography and geology
The shape of Ios resembles a rectangle, with an average side size of 15km
7km respectively. The longest axis is in the NW direction, from the Karatza cape to the
Achlades Peninsula and is 17.5 km long, while the longest axis, in the AD direction, is
14km long. Ios has 86km of coastline, of which 32km are sandy beaches.
The highest elevation (723m) is the Kastro (Κάστρο) peak also called Pyrgos (Πύργος), located in the center
of the island, while around the Kastro are the next three
Highest peaks: Xylodema (Ξυλόδεμα) (660m), Kostiza (Κοστίζα) (586m) and Prophetis Elias (Προφήτης Ηλίας) (490m).
Ios consists almost entirely of metamorphic rocks, on
which lie limited quaternary appearances.
According to the Greek census 2011 in Ios live 2084 people, 1754 of them live in Chora.
From the 1940s to the early 1970s, there was a constant reduction to the population of the island. The main causes of this phenomenon are the migration movement, the epidemiological conditions of the time and to a lesser extent, the loss of men aged between 18 and 45 during the war.
The island is famous for its local cheeses. They are mainly made in the municipal creamery using milk from goats or sheep. The most famous one is the "skotíri" (σκοτύρι), a sour cheese with the smell of summer savory
. Popular dishes of Ios are the "tsimediá" (τσιμεντιά , pumpkin
flowers stuffed with rice
) and "mermitzéli" (μερμιτζέλι, handmade barley).
Ios from the prehistoric era and thanks to its safe natural harbor played an important role on the sea roads to Crete. The early Cycladic settlement on Skarkos hill, as well as the many prehistoric sites on the island, tell us a lot about this period.
Ios was under the influence of the Minoan and then of the Mycenaean civilization. The Phoenicians seem to have arrived on the island and maintained their presence until the 9th century BC. Ios became Ionians at some point after, as testified by its membership in the Ionic Amphictyony. From 534 BC the island paid a tax to Classical Athens.
Classical and Hellenistic times
Ios was a important and strong city in Classical Greece
times. Its decline began with the Roman occupation, when it was used as a place for exile, and continued in Byzantine times. The island experienced a recovery at the time of the Duchy of Naxos, but the Ottoman domination interrupted it. Palaiokastro, a ruined Venice
castle from the 15th century lies on the northern part of the island.
Ios was important enough in the Roman province
of Insulae to become a suffragan see
of the Metropolis of Rhodes, but later faded and disappeared.
Although Ios did not have a strong naval force, it was one of the first islands to raise the flag of revolution in when the Greek War of Independence began in 1821. Ios took part in the naval battle at Kusadasi on July 9, 1821, as well as in the Second National Assembly at Astros in 1823 and in the Third National Assembly at Troezen in 1827.
In a new era, the island has begun to emerge since the 70s as it is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination for young people in Europe. Today Ios retains its reputation as the island of youth and entertainment, but also has excellent tourist infrastructure, organised marina at its harbour and good enough road network. This puts it with the best in the new era.
Ecclesiastically, its territory is now part of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Thera, Amorgos and the Islands of the Church of Greece.
The island is very strongly connected with Homer because according to the legend, Homer
died in Ios. The greatest epic poet of the Greeks died because he violated a Pythian oracle. According to Pausanias, Homer visited the Delphi oracle to ask Pythia about his parents and origins. Pythia replied with the oracle "Your mother's home is the island of Ios, which will accept you when you die, but you should be careful of the enigma of the young children.". The poet, however, broke the oracle and traveled to Ios. There he saw some small children fishing on the coast. He asked what they got and the children replied: "Whatever we get we leave it and whatever we don't get we take it with us". The children were talking about lice. Those who found them, killed them, but those who did not find them, had them to their heads. Homer did not find the answer, but he remembered the warning of Pythia. He was horrified and ran away quickly.
According to another version, Homer died from his sadness that he did not solve the puzzle, while a third version says he was already seriously ill and went to Ios because he knew he would die. Of course, the death of the great poet is not based on historical studies, but on myths and traditions that circulated from mouth to mouth. Pausanias simply recorded a popular narrative.
Graf Pasch van Krienen expedition
In 1771, a dutch count named Pasch di Krienen after having read the narrative, he came to Ios in order to discover the grave. He was informed by a local priest of the saint Aikaterini chapel that there is a place with marbles and some of which had inscriptions. He decided that they were made a lot after Homer's death but he insisted and with the help of Spyridon Valettas he found three graves and the last one had inscriptions about Homer including Ενθάδε την ιερήν κεφαλήν κατά γαία καλύπτει ανδρών ηρώων κοσμήτορα θείον Όμηρον which means here under the earth lies the sacred head of heroic Homer. When he found this, Pasch was sure that the grave belonged to the epic poet but he realised some grammatical mistakes on the gravestone and he began doubting it's authenticity. After having spent a lot of money and time, he decided to give up after having also found two graves at Agia Theodoti
[GŎmýrou bíos@ kaì poiýmata page 45] [Breve Descrizione del Arcipelago by Pasch di Krienen, 1771, page 35-47]
Today Ios operates the following educational institutions: Ios Kindergarten, Ios Elementary School, Ios High School with Lyceum Classes and an EPAL. The elementary school has more than 100 children and it is housed in a classical building in the centre of Chora.
Ios attracts a large number of young Tourism, many of whom used to sleep on their sleeping bags during the 1970s on the popular beach of Mylopotas after partying through the night. Today Mylopotas beach has been developed to an equivalent mass package tourism resort like Platys Gialos and Paradise Beach of Mykonos.
Critheïs, mother of Homer
- 1.According to sources Spyridon Valettas was born in 1779 or 1786 and the book written by Pasch di Krienen talks about a Spyridon Valettas although it was written in 1773. So he must refer to an other Spyridon Valettas maybe his grandfather