History

The first evidence of human settlement on the island, at its northern extremity of Kastellos Point, dates from the Early Cycladic II period (mid-3rd millennium bc). Continuity during the Middle and Late Bronze Age (2nd millennium bc) is indicated by surface finds near the port of Karavos tasis and on Palaiokastro Hill, which is where settlement later concentrated in historic times. It is in this period that the island may have acquired its name from the Phoenician ‘phelek-gundari’, meaning ‘rocky land’; though it was also known to the Greeks, according to Strabo (Geog. X, 5.1), by the epithet ‘σιδηρείη·’ (‘like iron’) because of the hardness of its terrain. The island was colonised by Dorians, though later received much Ionian influence, eventually develop an Ionian dialect in Hellenistic times. It was assessed to pay a tribute of 2,000 drachmas into the First Athenian League in 425 bc. Most of the visible remains on the is land, such as the retaining wall in the cemetery of Chora and the inscriptions in the cave of Chrysospilia, date from the Hellenistic and Roman period however. Folegandros appears briefly to have minted its own coins in the 2nd century bc.
   The 12th century Arab geographer, Al-Idrisi, mentions the island by the name ‘Belikendra’. The island was taken by Marco Sanudo into the Duchy of Naxos in 1207 and passed to the Bolognese overlords of Kythnos, the Gozzadini family, in 1336. Although Cristoforo Buondelmonti in his Liber Insularum described Folegandros as virtually uninhabited when he visited in c. 1417, the island appears later to have been re-settled from Crete in the 16th century. The Ottoman Empire took complete possession of the island from descendants of the Gozzadini in 1617. In 1715 it suffered a punitive Turkish raid, leaving it once again depopulated. Between 1770 and 1774 it came under Russian rule along with the other Cyclades during the Russo-Turkish war. In 1828 it joined the newly independent Greek State. In 1918, 1926, 1936, and again in the 1960’s the island was used as a place of exile for the political undesirables of the moment. Electricity was only brought to Folegandros in 1974.

Folegandros Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

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