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Kithira Hotel, Studios and Apartments
Nearby Locations: Kalamata hotel, Crete hotel, Santorini hotel
A few words about Kithira:
The island of Kithira (ΚΥΘΗΡΑ in Greek) located in the Mediterranean Sea 14 nautical miles off Kavo Maleas on the south-eastern most tip of the Peloponnese between Crete and Peloponesse, with name Kithera or Cerigo. Ships dock at Agia Pelagia near a beautiful stretch of coastline and bathing beach. The capital, Kythera, 30km (19 miles) south, is easily reached on the main roadway which crosses the island. It is a neat hamlet, built on a hillside overlooking the sea, which is crowned by a Venetian castle. Kapsali is the main harbour. Mostly rocky with many streams, it produces wine, goat cheese, olives, corn, and flax. On the south shore is Kithira (1971 pop. 349), the chief village, formerly called Kapsali. Ancient Kithira was a center of the cult of Aphrodite. The island passed to Greece in 1864.
A Voyage to Kithira means to many people a nostalgic wandering in exotic and dreamt places, just like in Wattaeu's romantic painting The Embarkment for the Island of Kythera (L' Embarquement pour l' ile de Kythere). The myth of Kythera, also known as the island of love, goes far back in the traditions of France and Italy. Voyage to Kythera, a difficult task, an island to which pilgrims set out but never succeed in arriving. As long as it stays far, preserves its distant spark as a land of eternal destination, impossible dream and ideal beauty. Since ancient times Kithira is related to the myth of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and Eros. There it lies in her heavenly haze as a land as much utopic as well real and within reach.
Reality brings us to a place of myth, not so distant as it is presented in the tradition of literature, but with its marks strong. It is enough to walk on the clear beaches and watch the sunset, for this to be felt. Somewhere there, the sky meets the sea painting it with its scarlet reflections and perhaps someone could witness the birth of Aphrodite, daughter of Uranus and Sea. One might even see a piece of the never ending Sky (Uranus) fall, due to the mighty slash from Cronos, in the life-giving Sea, who wraps it with her froth. Perhaps one could also feel the distinct breeze of Zephyros, who rendered Aphrodite to the world and prepared her to take her place in the mighty mythological Olympus.
Cretes, Phoenicians, Hellenes, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, French, British, they all took part in the creation of the island's tradition, building a social, economical and cultural originality, which balances the hellenic tradition with the western influence in a harmonic wholeness. A totality that contains past and present, the roughness of nature and the stillness of human structure, the abandonment of whole villages in a quest for better luck in the big cities or even abroad, mostly in Australia, and the nostalgia and the will for homecoming after confronting privation and suffer. Today still one can hear the air blow through the empty houses that used to be full of life, being witnesses of a different era.
As the sun brakes out of the mist dissolves the mist - provenza, as it is called on the island - and clears the sky in modern Kythera, one can feel the struggle for going on. While the island's economy progressively heads towards tourism and efforts are made for developing appropriate infrastructure, it is obvious that a new era lies in front of us.
Minoans Cretans were the first to settle on the island during the early Copper Age, building a small settlement near Kastri. Pottery was inspired by cretan patterns and had the characteristic use of red colour, made from purple sea shells during the Meso-Minoic III Period (MMIII). The settlement in Kastri was abandoned during the mid 15th century. During the early 14th century the abandoned settlement was used as a base for the construction a of Mycenaic colony. Through the island must have also come phoenicians, although there is no archaeological evidence for this. According to Herodotos (I,105) they built the renowned, during the ancient times, sanctuary of Kytherian Aphrodite, whose worship was brought, as it seems, from the east. This sanctuary is said to be placed in Paliokastro, where the fortified acropolis was.
The oldest written reference of Kythera are the verses of Heliad K 261-270 where the kytherian fighter Amfidamas from Skandeia is mentioned and O 429-440 where there is word about Lykofron. The island during the 8th and until the 6th century was inhabited by argeian dorians, who were then forced to leave after a war against spartans. Two of the administra-tive measures the spartans took, were the installation of a permanent garrison and the establishment of the decree of Kythirodikes, commander of the island sent annually from Sparta.
During antiquity Kythera was an important station for the sailing between Greece and Egypt or Libya. Due to that the island was disputed between spartans and athenians. During the Peloponessian War and until 300BC the island changed hands between the two of them many times. Its neighbouring with Sparta gave athenians the opportunity for raids against their enemies, while on the other hand its occupation by spartans secured their home city.
During the first byzantine times, the island was almost deserted and during the 4th century AD hermits from Peloponess came to it. Among them was Aghia Elessa, who has been connected with many legends and in order to honour her, a monastery has been built and named after her. Pirate raids, especially those made by saracens from Crete were very often during the 9th century and forced a lot of the people to refuge to Peloponess. But because of its important position, the island wasn't totally deserted. The victory of the byzantine emperor Nikiforos Fokas over the saracens and the destruction of the Arab State allowed Kythera to meet a new era of progress, prosperity and commercial relations with Peloponess and espe-cially with Monemvasia. Finally the island came in the hands of Eudaimonogiannides (or Daimonogiannides) family from Monemvasia.
In 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, the island came in possession by venetians who assigned Marco Venieri with the title of Marchese as the commander of Kythera. But he had many feuds in Crete, so he left on his post Daimonogiannides. Venieri family with other great families revolted against Venice. Their defeat signed the annexation of Kythera among the other venetian acquisitions and its rigging from the Duke of Crete until the 17th century. In 1537 Hayredin Barbarossa lead a raid against Kythera capturing 7,000 inhabitants of the island's capital, Aghios Demetrios.
Until 1571, year of the great naval battle in Nafpaktos between the western allies and turks, Kythera suffered a population decrease due to the continuing war between Venice and Turkey, because of the fear for raids. The ending of this war signed the reorganisation and strengthening of the island by Venice, as it held an important strategic position.
During the 17th century while a lot of venetian colonies fell in turkish hands, in the island found shelter many refuges from Peloponess and Crete. In 1715, during another war between Venice and Turkey, the fort of Kapsali was surrendered to the turks by the venetian commander Marceli after a capitulation. In 1718 Venice took Kythera back with the Passarovic Convention. This was the only period that Kythera suffered from the turkish occupation. In the 18th century the island met high development, which was continued even after the breaking of venetian domination with Campoformio Convention (1797), which gave the Seven Islands - a complex of islands which Kythera is a part of - to France, that had just become a republic and gave hope to the island's people. In 1798 France was forced to surrender the island to the russian-turkish fleet. Until 1800, when the State of the Seven Islands was founded, the island suffered from conflicts and bloody fights. The State and the Constitution of 1803 became one of the first signs of hellenic regeneration and independence which didn't come until the hellenic revolution in 1821. The second french occupation during 1807-1809 contradicted the people's hopes for freedom, while the Ionian State which was created by Paris Convention in November 1815, became an english colony. Kytherians made many efforts to free themselves from the british and unite with Hellas, something that was finally achieved in 1864, when the Ionian Islands were given as a "dower" to George A King of the Hellenes.
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