Parga History

Parga History
About the history of Parga, Greece

Ancient and Venetian times

The history of Parga starts from antiquity. There is historical evidence that the bay of Parga has already been inhabited since the Mycenaean Times. However, after the Macedonian king Perseus was defeated in Pydna in 168 BC, the Roman general Aemilius Paul destroyed all cities of Epirus, including Parga. Many centuries went by until 1320, when the settlement currently known as "Paleoparga", on the Petzovolio mountain, was mentioned for the first time in a commercial trade between the bishop of Romania and Venice. In 1360, the inhabitants of this settlement moved to the place where Parga is located today, in order to avoid the constant attacks of the Turks and the Albanians.

To make sure that the city would be safe, the residents asked for the help of the Normans, who ruled over the Ionian Sea by those times. In 1401, the city came under the Venetian rules and this brought a certain sense of stability and welfare to its residents. The Venetians built the fortress of the city, planted great quantities of olive trees and developed Parga into an olive oil commercial centre. In 1452, the Ottomans attacked the city and dominated it for two years. In 1537, the fearsome pirate Barbarossa destroyed the whole city and in 1571, the army of the Albanian leader Ali Pasha attacked the city for one more time.

Sieges by the Ottomans

After that, a peace treaty between the Venetians and Ottomans took place, which lasted from 1573 to 1644 and brought again some prosperity.The Venetians considered Parga a city of strategic geographical position that allowed them to control the Ionian Islands and to keep an eye on the Ottoman Empire. Once the treaty expired, the Turks attacked Parga in 1657, sought the city for three years but they didn't manage to conquer it.

Then, in 1718 there was a new treaty, this time between Venice, Austria and the Ottoman Empire, the treaty of "Passarovitch", which ended in 1797, when Venice surrendered to Napoleon Bonaparte and gave Parga and the Ionian Islands away to the French. In the same year, some French troops came to Parga and built a fortress on the island of Panagia, in front of the Parga bay. The period of prosperity ended when Ali Pasha came with his army to conquer the city. Since the French were very few, the residents decided to ask for the help of the Russian fleet, which now patrolled the Ionian Islands. A treaty between the Russian Tsar and the Ottoman Empire recognized Parga as an autonomous city, under the Russian influence. However, Ali Pasha tried to recover Parga, without success.

Sold to Turks

In 1807, there was another treaty, in which Parga came under the French rule once again. This time Ali Pasha did not attack, since the French sent a small garrison to Parga, just in case. However, the history of Parga went through another difficult period when Napoleon lost the famous battle near Waterloo, in 1815. In that same year, the inhabitants of the city rebelled to the French under the instigation of the British and put themselves under the British ruling. In 1807, there was another treaty, in which Parga came under the French rule once again. This time Ali Pasha did not attack, since the French sent a small garrison to Parga, just in case.

However, the history of Parga went through another difficult period when Napoleon lost the famous battle near Waterloo, in 1815. In that same year, the inhabitants of the city rebelled to the French under the instigation of the British and put themselves under the British ruling. However, the British were not actually interested in Parga itself, as they only saw it as a path to achieve their final goal: to occupy the Ionian Islands. So, in 1817, England finally sold Parga to Ali Pasha for 150,000 pounds.

This was a very hard beat for the residents, who got so desperate that burned the bones of their ancestors and abandoned their city on April 15th, 1817. They were altogether 4000 people and embarked to the nearby island of Corfu. Then, 300 men of Ali Pasha entered Parga and inhabited the city. When part of its former Greek inhabitants came back in 1831, they found that the Turks were now the owners of their houses and lands. In fact, they were forced to work their lands. This Turkish oppression lasted until 1913, when Parga finally incorporated to the Greek state.

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