Myths and History
The forgotten greek Island charms only at second glance. An island for explorers, because what there is to see imposes itself not in the foreground. Kythira is also the island of Aphrodite; here – not in Cyprus, as skeptics assert – in a bay in the southeast, to be risen from the sea, the “foam-born”. Whether Kythira or Cyprus, everyone likes to decide. Even among experts, there is disagreement about the true birthplace of the goddess of love, but if you stand in the Bay of Paleopoli, the decision is not difficult …
Kythira belongs to the group of the Ionian Islands, but is geographically connected with the Peloponnese, only in a distance twelve nautical miles to the Cape Maleas on the southeastern tip of Peloponnes . Administratively belongs to the Prefecture of Attica Kythira.
South of the island, about halfway to Κreta, is her little sister, Antikythera. The island became famous in 1900 by a Greek ship wreck was found off the coast. Among the recovered artifacts were located a sensational gear transmission, the so-called Mechanism of Antikythera, and the Youth of Antikythera, a life-size bronze figure
Fabled she is the goddess of love Aphrodite, and assumed it was Kythira (and not Cyprus), where she is risen from the sea, it was here, on the southeastern coast of the island, once gruesome to: At that time Κronos, King of the Titans, a lot of anger on his brutal father, Uranus, so great a rage, that he cut off his genitals with a sickle and threw behind him into the sea. The blood of Uranus turned into foam and out of that foam was Aphrodite, the “foam-born“. As testimony of this event are now two small rocks, reminiscent of the painful death of Uranus in the sea at Paleopoli …
To Aphrodite and her escapades have grown up the myths. Mockingly they should have been, sensual and beautiful, and not averse to mortals. The husband Hephaestus she put horns on, she had affairs with Ares, Hermes and Adonis – Aphrodite could make surrender all gods. However, most famous is the myth of Aphrodite and Ρaris: At a wedding, attended by Hera, Athena and Aphrodite attended, Paris should those who had “earned” the title over oak a golden apple with the inscription “The Most Beautiful“. Bribery was also ίn antiquity no foreign word, and Aphrodite – not only beautiful but also smart – could Paris make the most tempting of all offers and so outdo their rivals Hera and Athena: Would she get the apple, it was Paris with the truly most beautiful woman of the world together – and the paradoxes had its firm roots ίn antiquity. The crowned goddess of love kept her word and helped Paris active in the abduction of non-aversive “Beautiful Helena“, which ultimately led to the outbreak of the Trojan War.
A statue of Paris shows, as he presents an object with outstretched hand to Aphrodite – probably an apple.
Kythira is characterized by an unusual climate: The most of the year blows here a stern wind, in the summer often spur of the Cycladic Meltemis. However, the island has more and more visitors in recent years. Ιn high season populate Kythira mostly Greek tourists, most of them come from Athens. Not to mention the many Greeks who are to Australia emigrated and visit their home in the summer months.
Attractions of the island are sure the many Byzantine churches (about 70 in number, many of them traditional family-owned) and the secluded ΡaΙeοchora, a miniature version of Mistra. A special appeal also exerts the “Aphrodite Beach” – we have some in their search for the point where the goddess should have risen from the sea taken to and each was able to find his way.
Oldest findings suggest a settlement of the island in the 3rd millennium BC. During the Minoan period about ties between Kythira and Crete, probably the island was a stopover on the sea of the Minoans to the west. Also to Mycenaean times Kythira was inhabited. Thanks to its strategic location between East and West, the island enjoyed among the Phoenicians from around the 9th / 8th Century BC. Considerable interest, not least were also used for the here abundant purple snails fished out of the sea and for obtaining of the noble color (e.g. for coloring the royal garments). At that time the island was under the name “Porphyrusa“, the “Purple Island” known.
From the 6th century. BC. begins with the occupation by the Spartans for the island a very eventful history: was Strategically located was Kythira the apple of discord between the two superpowers Athens and Sparta until the end of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC..) and the related defeat of Athens extinguished the interest in the island and Sparta are headed for the campaign against the Persians just been allied. After a brief interlude of the Macedonians were from the 1st century BC the Roman rulers of the island – until the Byzantines 395 AC., the legacy of the Roman Empire took. But at this time Kythira had long sunk into insignificance.
After a long period of desolation Kythira the then very powerful Monemvasia was in the 12th century AC. subordinated, and soon (1207 AC.) passed to the Venetian family Veneris. Ιn this period, the then capital ΡaΙeοchόra arose. In 1537 it was razed to the ground by the Pirate Barbarossa and Turkish Admiral Hayreddin, two more attacks would follow. Nevertheless, the island was interrupted by a three-year occupation by the Τurks – until 1797 in the hands of the great power of Venice. From then on, the story Kythira resembles that of the other Ionian islands: the French arrived in 1797, only a year later won the Russian. Forces the upper hand, in 1800 the Ionian Republic was proclaimed, in 1807 was followed by a brief interlude of Napoleon’s troops, until finally in 1809 the British hoisted their flag on the island – the most visible testimony of the 55 years of British rule is certainly the “English Bridge” at Katouni , the first school, near Livadi, and the extensive road network. Finally in 1864 the connecting of the Ionian Islands to Greece was completed.
During the 20th century, Kythira is characterized by a strong wave of emigration: The majority of those who turn their backs to island went to America and later, particularly after the Second World War, especially to Australia. There, it is estimated the number of newcomers kytheriens to about 60,000, while only 3,000 permanent residents can be found on the island itself.