Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 67, Paros, Cyclades, Greece

Situated in the centre of the Cyclades islands, Paros is the very picture of a traditional Greek island.
Paros has been inhabited since at least 4000BC. It started flourishing around 3000BC, and all over the Cyclades the Parian marble can be found from this time. The island was then called Minoa which indicates that the island's civilization was Minoan (Cretan) then. Later on, the Parian marble was to be used in Delphi, Delos and the temple of Poseidon in Sounio.

The earliest people living on the island was a tribe from Peloponnesos, the Arcades. Mixing with the Ionians they became a strong force in the area of the Cyclades. They traded their marble with the Phoenicians, and until the 6th century BC they had great power in the Aegean sea, with colonies on Thassos and other places.
Paros was defeated by Naxos at this time, and lost its position. It still held a strong cultural foothold though with a school for sculptors. When the Persian wars began, Paros initially fought with the Persians against Athens. After the Persian defeat at Salamis, Paros joined the Athenian league.

Towards the end of the Classical period Paros was ruled by Sparta, then the Macedonians and finally the Romans. Chistianity came to Paros around AD300.
During the Byzantine period Paros continued to be an important place because of its marbles, but around 900 the island was totally deserted when the Arabs invaded. It was repopulated though and came under Venetian rule in the beginning of the 13th century.
During the Turkish rule the islanders were heavily taxed, but allowed much freedom. The islanders built many churches and monasteries during this time. Paros took a strong part of the Greek revolution against the Turks in 1821 and was soon freed.
The two most famous names from Paros are Archilochus, lyrical poet in the 7th century BC, and Scopas, sculptor & architect from the 4th century BC.
We are going to a little fishing village Naoussa picturesque....around the port and promenade we find many taverns, restaurants and cafes..
There are fishing boats everywhere, since fishing is the traditional source of income for the islanders.
The Parian marble is famous since ancient times, and has also provided the island with a good income.
There seems to be quite a buzz in the town.....Nopi says that they are preparing for the 23rd of August, when the people of Naoussa celebrate the victory over the Turkish pirate Barbarossa by reacting the events: 100 boats imitate the battle and the celebrating goes on until the morning after!
What a pity we won't be here then....

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