Paros History

According to excavations on Saliagos, a small island between Paros and Antiparos, Paros has been inhabited since 3200 BC. Mythology states that the Cretan Alkaios was the first king of Paros and built a city on the site of the present capital of Parikia. At the time, Crete traded goods with Egypt, Assyria, and the Balkans.

Paros was an ideal place due to its strategic position (in the center of the Cyclades) and fertile land. The Cretans turned the island into a naval station and named it a Minoa, an honorific title given to Royal Cretan cities. In 1100 BC, the Ionians came to conquer the island. After an initial defeat, they managed to win over the Minoans, destroyed their civilization, and became rulers of the island. Traces of the former civilization are apparent in the Mycenaen Acropolis near Kolimbithres.

Around 1100 BC, when the Dorians attacked the Arcadia region, Arcadians fled to the island. Their leader was Paros, from whom the island took its name. The 8th century BC was a prosperous period in the history of Paros, as the island became a maritime power. Apart from economic development, cultural flourishing also took place at the time. The Parian marble was in high demand, and works by Parian sculptors included the statue of Nike, the Temple of Apollo in Delos, the Asklepiion, the Apteros Nike (in the Louvre Museum), and others.

During ancient times, Paros was famous around the Mediterranean for its high-quality semi-transparent marble, found at the Marathi Quarries. Indicative masterpieces made of Parian marble are the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, the Venus de Milo, the Hermes of Praxiteles, and many others.
Paros was also the birthplace of many ancient poets, such as the lyrical poet Archilochus who was the first to use personal elements instead of heroic ones in his poems.

During the Classical era, the oligarchs of Paros welcomed the Persians on the island and a large part of the army followed the Persian fleet in the campaigns against Greece. After the Persians were defeated in 480 BC, Themistocles forced Paros to become a member of the Athenian Alliance. By the end of the Classical period, Paros had allied with the Macedonians until the death of Alexander the Great. Some of the great discoveries from this era were the ancient pottery workshop in Tholos, with its fascinating works of art, and the ancient cemetery of Parikia.

In the subsequent Roman era, Paros and the rest of the Cyclades constituted a province of the Roman Empire. Economical and cultural growth was stunted, and the island was used as an exile place.

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. The most famous is the Church of Ekatondapiliani in Parikia. The church is believed to have been built after the orders of Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, and is considered one of the most important Byzantine monuments of Greece.

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. Turkish rule succeeded the Venetians until the Greek Revolution of 1821. In addition, during the Russo-Turkish wars (1770 - 1777), the Russian fleet used the bay of Naoussa as a base in the Aegean. After the Independence, the island of Paros, like all the other Cyclades, became part of the modern Greek State.

A major part of the history of Paros is still featured in many parts of the island from ancient to modern times.