KALYMNOS



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Kalymnos - history

History
The name ‘Kalymna’, often taken to refer to its several good (‘kali-’) harbours (‘-limin’), only appears in the 4th century bc; until then, the island is referred to as ‘Kalydna’ (beautiful waters) and, by Homer (Iliad II. 676/7), in the plural form, ‘Calydnian islands’, referring presumably to a group, including also Pserimos and possibly Leros. The island’s many caves have yielded a quantity of material— burnished and decorated vases, tools and figurines—providing evidence of Late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) and Early Bronze Age settlement, with continued use through into Mycenaean times (especially in the cave of Daskaleio in the area of Vathis). The first settlers in early historic times were from Epidaurus in the Argolid: the main centres of habitation, determined as always by the presence of fresh water, were in the same two valleys that are populated today. The island was organised into seven demes, and a silver coinage was issued in the 6th century bc: a warrior’s helmeted head bearing the letter ‘A’ (for Antiphos, one of the island’s Heroic founders) on the obverse, and a lyre (for the predominating cult of Apollo) on the reverse. The important and early sanctuary of Apollo was at Damos, on the low saddle near the modern town of Chorio. After the Battle of Salamis in 480 bc, where the Kalymniots fought for the Persian side (together with Kos) under the command of Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus, the island turned to Athens and became a member of the Delian League. In the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great, the southeast Aegean saw considerable turmoil in the subsequent struggles of succession: it is to this period that many of the fortifications on the island date. In 205/4 bc Kalymnos became linked and subject to Kos by an arrangement of ‘homopoliteia’ (a constitutional joining of cities), and its history thereafter follows that of its larger neighbour. Together with Kos, it benefited from the same immunitas bestowed by the Emperor Claudius in 53 ad at the instigation of his personal physician, who was a native of Kos. Strabo noted the particularly good quality of the island’s honey (Geog. X, 19)
   A flourishing Early Christian community on Kalymnos, comparable, in proportion to its size, to that on Kos, has left behind the remains of a large number of once richly decorated Palaeochristian churches, but a catastrophic earthquake in 554 ad destroyed many of them. Subsequent Arab invasions in the 7th century led to progressive abandonment of the coastal settlements. After 1204 Venetian and Genoese overlords ruled the island until it came under the control of the Knights of St John of Rhodes in 1313. They held and fortified Kalymnos until their defeat in Rhodes by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1522/3.
   After 1523, the island maintained a considerable degree of autonomy under the Ottoman occupation. This gave the opportunity—as it did similarly on Symi—for the fishing and sponge trades to bring prosperity and considerable urban development, especially in the 19th century. A new island capital at Pothia was created and laid out, and the island’s population more than quadrupled between 1821 (5,000) and 1912 (23,000). The Italian occupation after 1912 brought considerable economic and cultural restrictions, however, and the historically independent spirit of the Kalymniots rebelled against the imposition of Italian language and the elimination of Greek in schools; resentment was further fuelled by interference with the Orthodox Church. Riots were suppressed in 1935, and many islanders were jailed or exiled by the Italians. During and immediately after the Second World War, the population was depleted by emigration to the Middle East and to the United States. The island joined the Greek State together with the other Dodecanese Islands in March 1948. Kalymnos is the only island in the Dodecanese still to have preserved a small sponge-fishing fleet.


Kalymnos Island is part of the Dodecanese Island group
History of Kalymnos.


Random information you might what to know about Kalymnos Island
Hellenistic fortress of Kastri
Panagia Kyra Psili

 

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access

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

By air: Kalymnos now has a small and dramatically sited airport at a distance of 5.5km from Póthia, served by Olympic Air, providing connections with Athens five times a week, mostly with a stop en route at Astypalaia.
By boat: There are daily services by catamaran (Dodecanese Express), and four times weekly by car ferry (F/B Nisos Kalymnos), south to Kos, and north to Leros, Patmos (& Samos—ferry only). There are daily boats to Piraeus and to Rhodes, operated by GA Ferries, making also twice weekly stops at Tilos, Nisyros and Symi on the way to Rhodes.
The faster Flying Dolphin services link Kalymnos (Póthia) also with the smaller Dodecanese Islands between Samos in the north and Rhodes in the south, and run daily in summer. There are daily services in summer (only intermittently out of season) between Póthia and Pserimos, and between Myrtiés and Xerókambos on Leros, weather permitting.

Kalymnos Travel Guide

eating

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

The taverna "Pandelis", in a tiny square directly behind the Olympic Hotel on the waterfront, does not have a wide choice, but what is offered is prepared well—with care and attention to freshness, lightness and flavour.
The ouzeri "Sphoungaras", in an alley behind the Emporiki Bank (where Patr. Maximou Street meets the promenade) has excellent mezé, and is crowded with locals at lunch time.
Around the island— both "Popy"s" at Vathýs, and "Akti" in a delightful setting at Emboreió, are good for fresh fish dishes.

Kalymnos Travel Guide

further reading

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

On the sponge trade:
Bitter Sea: The Real Story of Greek Sponge Diving, by Faith Warn (2000); and,The Bell stone

Greek Sponge Divers of the Aegean, by Michael Kalafatas (2003).

Kalymnos Travel Guide

lodging

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

For character and tranquillity, *Villa Melina is the most congenial place to stay in Póthia (T. 22430 22682; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). It is a Belle Epoque, family mansion, with high-ceilinged rooms (and some newer studio rooms around the swimming pool), run by the hospitable owners in a quiet area close to the museum.
With more straightforward facilities, and a good view of the town, is the Hotel Panorama (T. 22430 23138, 22917; www. panorama-kalymnos.gr).
For beach-side accommodation in Kantouni Bay, on the west of the island, Koletti Studios are in a delightful setting (T. 22430 47922, or, out of season, 210 692.8909);
and the tiny shore-side guest-house, On the Rocks, facing Kalymnos from Telendos (T. 22430 48260, 48261; www.otr.telendos.com) is perfect for a peaceful retreat.

Kalymnos Travel Guide

practical info

Kalymnos Island, Greece.

85 200 Kalymnos:
area 110sq km
perimeter 96km
population 15,706
max. altitude 676m
Port Athority: T. 22430 24444.
Travel and information: Kalymnos Municpality, www.kalymnos-isl.gr; Magos Travel, T. 22430 28777.

Kalymnos Travel Guide

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