Kea Makronissos

The exile island of Makronissos, Kea Greece: The Island of Makronissos is placed to the north west of Kea island, opposite to Lavrio town. It is a small island, 3km long and 500m wide. Administratively, it belongs to Kea island. Its landscape is rocky and infertile. In the ancient times, Makronissos was called "Helena island" because it is said that this was the island were beautiful Helena and prince Paris made a stop on the way to Troy or, according to another legend, where she and her husband, Menelaos, landed when they returned from Troy, after the end of the Troyan War.

Some ruins of the Neolithic era have been found on the islet and the two churches of Makronissos, Agios Gerogios and the church of Virgin Mary, have been built on the ruins of some ancient constructions. However, Makronissos is known for a sad side of the Greek history. Makronissos is a sort of Greek equivalent to Alkatraz. During the Balkan Wars (1912-13), a large number of Turkish prisoners of war were transferred there until the war ended and Greece and Turkey singed a peace contract.

When the Greek Civil War started, in 1946, this islet was turned into a prison for communists, political prisoners and defectors. These people were tortured in cruel ways and suffered starvation and privation of water to be forced to deny their political beliefs and sign a statement of regret and obeisance to the Greek rightist regime. Many people died there and others, those who managed to survive, still carry this traumatic experience.

Among the prisoners of Makronissos, we include many famous Greek people, such as the music composer Mikis Theodorakis, the film maker Pantelis Voulgaris and the poet Giannis Ritsos. It stopped functioning as a prison when the Greek dictatorship ended, in 1973. Needless to say, Makronissos islet stands today, in the memory of the Greeks, as an islet of torture and shame. Makronissos has today been declared as a Civil War monument.

In August 2003, three music concerts were held in Makronissos by Mikis Theodorakis, in order to honor all those people who died for their ideals.

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