Paros - history

Paros and its outlying islands have a rich prehistoric archaeology, which begins with the settlement on Saliagos dating from the 5th millennium bc and continues into Early Bronze Age culture, whose cemeteries and settlements from all around the island have yielded valuable material revealing commercial contacts with other Aegean islands, Crete and the Greek mainland. An important settlement at Koukounaries dates from the last years of the Mycenaean period; after its destruction in the 12th century bc the site was re-inhabited and seems to have prospered during the Geometric era.
The island was colonised by Ionians and in the 7th century bc established its own colony on Thasos —an expedition in which one of the greatest poets of early Greek literature, Archilochus, participated. Thasos brought her mother-city great wealth, and Paros enjoyed its golden age of influence and creativity in the early 6th century bc when many of its finest buildings were raised and the quarries of its preeminent marble were first seriously exploited. By the end of the 6th century bc the island was under the dominion of Naxos . In 490 bc Paros sent a trireme with the invading Persian fleet, an action which brought upon it a retaliatory attack by Athens, un er Miltiades, after the Battle of Marathon. The islanders resisted inenious ways (Herodotus, Hist. VI, 133), and during the siege Miltiades broke his knee in the Sanctuary of Demeter. The siege was lifted: Miltiades returned to Athens in disgrace and the injury to his knee which had turned gangrenous eventually took his life. Paros did not contribute to the defeat of Xerxes in 480 bc, and afterwards became subject to Athens. During the Peloponnesian War it tried to shake off Athenian dominion, failed, and was assessed to pay the highest tribute of any Cycladic island, namely 18 talents annually.
Free for a brief period after 403 bc, it was then incorporated in the second Athenian League in 377 bc and came under Macedonian influence after 357 bc. From 100 bc, Paros was part of the Roman Eparchy of Asia. Both Agorakritos in the 5th, and Scopas in the 4th century bc, were sculptors from Paros: Scopas was one of the greatest of his age, and worked on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The visit in 326 ad of St Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, resulted in the building on Paros of one of the most important churches in the Aegean, the Panaghia Katapoliani­, often called ‘Hekatontapyliani­’ or ‘Church of a Hundred Gates’. Justinian rebuilt the church more grandly in the 6th century, probably after a fire had destroyed the original Constantinian structure.
   As a favoured base for Saracens and pirates during the 8th and 9th centuries, the island became poorer and dramatically less populated. Its fortunes revived when it was taken by Marco Sanudo in 1207 into the Duchy of Naxos ; in 1260 the Kastro was built in Parikia. In the 15th century the capital was moved to the castle on the hill of Kephala on the east coast of the island, which was believed to be easier to defend against the increasing pressure of Turkish attacks. In 1537 Khaireddin Barbarossa laid siege to the castle and captured it in four days. The island was thereafter to remain under Turkish dominion, with an administrative centre at Lefkes, for almost 300 years. Piracy once again flourished, and Hugues Creveliers, the original of Byron’s Corsair, was one of the many celebrated pirates who operated from Paros in the 17th century. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74 Naousa became the naval base for the Russian Aegean fleet of Count Alexei Orloff. Paros was re-united with the fledgling Greek State in 1832, at which time it became the home of the heroine of Greek Independence, Mando Mavrogenous (1796–1840): she is buried in the courtyard of the Katapoliani­ church in Parikia.
   The approaches to the harbour of Paros are notoriously hazardous, and it was on the isolated reefs called the Portes at the entrance to the Bay of Parikia that the ferry, Express Samina from Piraeus, foundered in a storm on the 26 September 2000 with the loss of 80 lives.

Travel Guide to Paros & Greece


Paros Island, the Cyclades.
By air: Olympic Air operates two 35-minute flights between Athens and Paros daily. The airport is 10.5km from Parikiá.
By boat: There are generally two daily car-ferry connections (4hrs 30mins) to Paros from Piraeus (most regularly with Blue Star Ferries) in the summer, with frequency drop ping in the winter. This is augmented in the summer months (late June– late Sept), by up to four high-speed services daily (minimum 3hrs journey), divided equally between the ports of Piraeus and Rafina for Athens. These services provide an average of three onward connections daily to Naxos , Ios and Santorini.
Paros Travel Guide


Paros Island, the Cyclades.
Paros, -Levantis, on Agora Street in Parikiá, is one of the best places to eat in the Cyclades, for food that is refined and yet still Greek: the setting is simple and unpretentious, the cuisine sophisticated and delicious, and the service attentive and pleasant. More expensive and with a refined menu which offers nonetheless some excellent dishes, is Daphne in Gravari Street. Amongst the myriad eateries around the three harbours of Náousa, the easternmost taverna on the north shore, Glafkos, has excellent seafood and welcoming service. Le Sud is also good for more var ied and sophisticated cuisine. In Léfkes, "I Pezoula tis Lichoudias", is tiny, and undoubtedly a little artificial, but some of the home-made Greek dishes are nonetheless traditional and of local inspiration.
Paros Travel Guide

further reading

Paros Island, the Cyclades.
Thomas Hope’s Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Greek, first published in 1819, is partly based on Nicholas Mavrogenis (see p. 34–35) of Paros and his world and times. The book caused a sensation when it was first published in London; Byron privately admitted that he wished he had been its author. A paperback edition was reissued in 2001, by Elibron Classics. Paros: History, Monuments etc. by Yannos Kourayos (Athens 2004) is an exemplary guide to the island’s antiquities—clear, authoritative and to the point. For the remarkable figure of the Marquis de Nointel and his Christmas mass in the Cave of Antiparos, see: Henri Omont, Relation de la visite du Marquis de Nointel à la grotte d’Antiparos (1673), Bulletin de géographie historique et descriptive, 1892 (4), pp. 4–33, and Albert Vandal, L’Odyssée d’un ambassadeur. Les voyages du Marquis deNointel (1670–1680), Paris, 1900. Theodore Bent, The Cyclades, or Life among the Insular Greeks (1885), reis sued 2002 by Archaeopress, Oxford in the ‘3rd Guides’ series, contains his descriptions of making the earliest excavations of prehistoric Cycladic remains on Antiparos.

Paros Travel Guide


Paros Island, the Cyclades.
Paros has no shortage of smart places to say: but for simplicity and unpretentious comfort, the following can be recommended. The intimate, family-run Hotel Dina in the heart of Parikiá, could not be more central, and is inexpensive, comfortable and quiet (T. 22840 21325, fax 23525, On the edge of Náousa, Yades Studios provide tasteful accommodation with help ful management (T./fax 22840 51072, www.yades. gr). Beautifully appointed, and with full facilities, is the excellent Hotel Petres (T. 22840 52467, fax 52759,; open Easter– mid-Oct). The hotel is set back in the hinterland to the south of Náousa, but with beautiful views north over Plastiras Bay.
Paros Travel Guide

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