Kythera island, Kythira Greece, Eptanisa
Information about the Kythera Island
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One asks oneself why Greek mythology chose Kythera, an island unknown to many, as the birthplace for Aphrodite, the goddess of love. No matter what your answer is, one thing is clear: Kythera is not only addressed to those in love but also to all those who are seeking a quiet shore to relax on.
Today's approximately 3,000 inhabitants live off of animal husbandry, the cultivation of vegetables and a few olive trees. But remittances from Australia are also an important source of in- come.
Isolated from the rest of the Ionian Islands, Kythera is only 10 nautical miles from the south- eastern tip of the Peloponnese, Cape Maleas, and 105 nautical miles from Piraeus to which it belongs administratively. It has an area of 278 sq. km., and a coastline of 52 km. The island is covered with low mountains, the highest of which, Mermygaris, does not exceed 500 m. Between the mountains are small valleys on which wheat and vegetables are cultivated.
You can go to Kythera from Athens by plane or from Piraeus by ferry boat or the speedy hydrofoils. You can also go overland down to Gytheio or Neapoli in the Peloponnese and then by ferry boat. From Kythera you can visit Monemvasia, Elafonisi, Antikythera and Crete.
According to mythology Kythera is the island of Aphrodite. The goddess of beauty and love was born on the foam of the sea; she first came ashore on Kythera and then went to Cyprus.
Kythera, which is also mentioned in antiquity by the name of Porphyrousa, was a naval base for the Minoans at the beginning of the 2nd millenium B.C. Porphyry, which there was an abundance of on the island, was the reason the Phoenicians came there, involving themselves with the processing of and the trade in this good, valuable during that period
The Phoenicians were succeeded by the Myceneans. Their presence on the island is confirmed by the Mycenean tools which were found in Palaiopoli, near Avlemonas. Later, during the period of the Peloponnesian Wars, Kythera, which was an ally of Sparta, was occupied by the Athenians for a brief period of time.
The centuries that rolled by were characterized by repeated pirate raids on the island which often led to its desertion. After a series of such events the Venetian occupation finally began in Kythera in 1207 with the Venetian Marco Venieri proclaiming himself "Marquis of Kythera". The Venetians gave a new name to the island, Cerigo, which is still used by the locals today with only a slight change: Tsirigo.
The pirate raids abated for along time but in 1537 Kythera would experience a great calamity when Barbarossa attacked it.
After the dissolution of the Serene Republic by Napoleon, the Venetian occupation of the island came to an end and the French took over in 1797.

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