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Astypalea History 

History of Astypalea

Mythology would have it that Astypalea and Europa were the daughters of the king of the Phoenicians and Perimedes. From her marriage to Poseidon, Astypalea gave birth to the Argonaut Agcaeus and the King of Kos Eurypylus. The island was first inhabited during prehistoric times.  Among its residents were the Karres, who called the island Pyrra for its red colour, and the Minoans. During the Hellenistic period the Ptolemaic Pharaohs of Egypt had a port - staging post here and the island developed extensive maritime activities and became well known thanks to its wealth of fisheries (even being called Ichthyoessa) and its abundant agricultural produce. Because of its numerous, scented flowers and the fruit and vegetable grown here the ancients called it the Dining Table of the Gods.  According to history during the period of Roman rule the island's ports were used as bases of operations against the pirates and for that reason the Romans granted the residents many privileges. During the Byzantine period the outbreak of piracy again changed the building structure of the islands with coastal settlements falling into demise, populations moving inland and fortresses being erected for protection. Following 1204 the island passed into Venetian hands and in particular the Quirini family - with the exception of a short period when it returned to the Byzantine Empire (1269-1310). The Quirini remained lords of the island until 1537 when it was seized by the Turks. Just like the other Dodecanese islands, it remained in Turkish hands until 1912 and then passed to the Italians only to be united with Greece in 1948.


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