PSARA



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Psara - history

History

Because of its strategic position at the edge of open waters on the trade routes leading from the south west Aegean towards the Black Sea and Asia Minor coasts, Psara had a flourishing Mycenaean settlement in the 14th and 13th centuries bc. The site, which lies along the island’s western shore at Lakka, has yielded almost 50 cist graves with a wealth of grave-gifts, both of metal and pottery.
   The first written reference to the island is in Book III of the Odyssey, where its name is given by Nestor as ‘Psyria’. Strabo mentions its good harbour, and Demosthenes refers to the island in connection with the strong winds that hinder navigation in its waters—a fact no less true today. Excavations have revealed Hellenistic settlement close by the site of the present town at Mavri Rachi, and a Roman presence both at Xerokambos in the north of the island and in the Limnos Bay area on the south coast.
   In the First Russo-Turkish war of 1768–74 Psariot ships harried the Turkish fleet but escaped reprisals because the Ottoman commander was prevented from landing by bad weather. The island’s fleet subsequently achieved protection and prosperity by sailing under the Russian flag after the termination of hostilities with the Treaty of Kuçuk Kaynarca (1774) between Catherine the Great and Sultan Abdul Hamid I. Psara was the birthplace of Ioannis Varvakis (1745–1825), Nikolis Apostolis (1770–1827), Constantine Kanaris (?1793–1877), and many other noted sailors. At the beginning of the war of Greek Independence in 1821 the island was among the first to revolt, proceeding to cause the Turkish fleet particular annoyance. Under the command of Nikolis Apostolis, Psara formed, together with Hydra and Spetses, the ‘Three Island Fleet’ which was to play such an important role in the uprising. Refugees began to arrive from Chios, Lesbos and Smyrna, swelling the population to perhaps as much as 20,000. In 1823 the Psariot fleet raided the coast of Asia Minor: in revenge, the Turks under their Egyptian commander, Hosref Pasha, attacked the island from Mytilene in May 1824, surrounding it with a force of 140 ships and finally storming it in June with 14,000 Janissaries. The islanders blew up their own powder magazines at Ftelio and at Mavri Rachi, and only 3,000 souls escaped the subsequent massacre. Ruined houses, a couple of simple white memorials, and a famous six-line epigram by Dionysios Solomos bear witness to the event. The few survivors fled to Syros and to Monemvasia, and later founded ‘Nea Psara’ (at Eretria) on Euboea. In spite of special electoral privileges given to the island in 1844 and Franco-Greek social and cultural projects initiated in the 1980s, the island has never truly recovered momentum.


Psara Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.


access

Psara Island, Greece.

Access is effectively only from Chios, apart from one weekly ferry which comes up from Lavrion (for Athens) on Mondays on it way to Lesbos (Sigri), Aghios Efstratios and Lemnos and returns down the same line on Wednesdays. The most regular connection is the F/B Nisos Thira (NEL Lines: T. 22710 43981, fax 41443) which leaves Psará every morning for Chios, except Tuesdays, and returns in the afternoon (4hrs).
During the summer months only, there is a caïque service from Limniá (Volissos) on the west coast of Chios which crosses to Psará on Saturdays and returns on Sundays (90mins.). Once on the island, transportation is very limited: there is no taxi or vehicle rental of any sort. If you do not have your own vehicle, it is only possible to explore the island by foot— and there is no roadside shade at any point.

Psara Travel Guide

eating

Psara Island, Greece.

There are three tavernas on the island: those on the port promenade serve fairly ordinary fare; substantially better and with a pleasing view is the Taverna Heliovasilema ("Sunset") on the town"s south beach of Kato Gialos.

Psara Travel Guide

lodging

Psara Island, Greece.

Lodging is limited: the choice is either the clean (but quite expensive) Psará Hotel (T. 22740 61180 & 61195) at the northern extremity of the town; or the Restalia Studios (T. 22740 61000 & 61201), close to the port, which only operate in July and August.

Psara Travel Guide

practical info

Psara Island, Greece.

82 104 Psará: area 40 sq. km; perimeter 45km; resident population 478; max. altitude 531m. Port Authority: Chios, T. 22710 44433. Information: T.22740 61293.

Psara Travel Guide

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