Paros History

Paros history
About the history of Paros island, Greece

Paros has been inhabited since 3200 BC according to the excavations that took place on the islet of Saliagos, located between Paros and Antiparos. According to mythology, the Cretan Alkaios, was the first king of Paros and built a city on the site of the present capital of Parikia. During those times, Crete was trading with Egypt, Assyria and the Balkans.

Paros was an ideal place due to its strategic position (in the centre of the Cyclades) and the fertile land. The Cretans transformed the island into a naval station and gave it the name of Minoa, an honorific title given to Royal Cretan cities. In 1100 BC, the Ionians came to take the island and, after a first defeat, they managed to win the Minoans, destroyed their civilization and became rulers of the island.

Traces of the former civilization can be seen in the Mycenaen Acropolis near Kolimbithres. In 1000 BC, Paros was taken by the Arcadians. The 8th century BC was a prosperous period for the history of Paros, as the island become a maritime power and created a colony on the island of Thassos, rich in metal deposits. Apart from the economical development, there was cultural flourishing including the construction of many temples, like a temple dedicated to goddess Athena and the healing centre of Asklepieion. Paros is the birthplace of many ancient poets such as the lyrical poet Archilochus who was the first to use in his poems personal elements rather than heroic ones.

During ancient times, Paros was famous, around the Mediterranean, for its high quality semi-transparent marble, found at the Marathi Quarries. The same used to build many works of art and masterpieces such as the Temple of Apollo on Delos, the Venus of Milos, the statue of Hermes (Praxiteles) at Olympia and many others. Part of the army of Paros fought with the Persians, during the Persian wars, and was defeated by the Athenian army. In 338 BC, the island came under the rule of Philip of Macedonia and became part of the Macedonian empire. After the death of Alexander the Great, Ptolemies, Alexander's successors took control of the Cycladic island.

Some of the great discoveries from this era was the ancient pottery workshop in Tholos, with its fasinating works of art, and the ancient cemetery of Parikia. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Paros became part of the Byzantine Empire and its inhabitants converted to Christianity, explaining why numerous churches, chapels and monasteries were built during those times. Among those, the most famous is the Church of Ekatontapiliani in Parikia. Considered as the most important Byzantine monument of Greece, this church is believed to have been built according to the orders of Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.

Between 1207 and 1389, Paros became part of the Duchy of the Aegean, ruled by the Venetian Marco Sanudo. In the 15th century, the Fort of Naoussa was built to protect the island from pirates. The Turkish rule succeeded the Venetians, until the Greek Revolution of 1821. After the Independence, the island of Paros, like all the other Cyclades, became part of the modern Greek State. A great part of Paros history is still featured in many parts of the island from the ancient to modern times.

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