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Coordinates: 36°43′0″N 25°20′11″E / 36.71667°N 25.33639°E / 36.71667; 25.33639
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Ίος, Νιός
Clockwise from top: Church of Saint Irene, Odysseas Elytis Theatre, Cathedral Church Of Ios, Chora Hill, Windmills in Chora
Clockwise from top: Church of Saint Irene, Odysseas Elytis Theatre, Cathedral Church Of Ios, Chora Hill, Windmills in Chora
Official seal of Ios
Ios is located in Greece
Location within the region
Coordinates: 36°43′0″N 25°20′11″E / 36.71667°N 25.33639°E / 36.71667; 25.33639
Administrative regionSouth Aegean
Regional unitThira
Municipality established1835
 • MayorGkikas Gkikas[1]
 • Municipality109.0 km2 (42.1 sq mi)
Highest elevation
713 m (2,339 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 • Municipality2,299
 • Density21/km2 (55/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Ιήτης (Iitis)[3] (official)
Ιέτης (Ietis)[4] (Ancient Alternative)
Νιώτης (Niotis) (local)
Iitian or Ietian(anglicised)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
840 01
Area code(s)22860
Vehicle registrationEM
Map of Ios

Ios, Io or Nio (Greek: Ίος, Greek pronunciation: [ˈi.os]; Ancient Greek: Ἴος [í.os]; locally Nios, Νιός) is a Greek island in the Cyclades group in the Aegean Sea. Ios is a hilly island with cliffs down to the sea on most sides. It is situated halfway between Naxos and Santorini. It is about 18 kilometres (11 miles) long and 10 kilometres (6 miles) wide, with an area of 109.024 square kilometres (42.094 sq mi).[5] Population was 2,299 in 2021 (down from 3,500 in the 20th century). Ios is part of the Thira regional unit.[6]


Ios town

The Port of Ios is at the head of the Ormos harbour in the northwest. There is a path up the nearby hill to Chora, named after the Greek word for the main village on an island. Chora is a white and cycladic village, full of stairs and narrow paths that make it inaccessible for cars. Today, the main path through this village is completely taken over by tourism with restaurants, boutiques, bars and discothèques catering to visitors. Apart from the port and the village of Chora, Ios has a few small settlements that consist of groups of spread out houses in the background of major beaches (Theodoti, Kalamos, Manganari). Since the 1990s, the island mayor Pousseos has worked on Ios' development towards attracting different types of tourists. With the help of European Community funds some roads have been built, all of them paved, and a scenic amphitheatre was created by the German architect Peter Haupt at the top of the village hill.


A 1420 map of the island where the name Nio is used

According to Plutarch, it is thought that the name has derived from the Ancient Greek word for violets, "ἴα", (ia) because they were commonly found on the island[7] and it is the most accepted etymology. It is also posited that the name was derived from the Phoenician word iion, meaning "pile of stones". Pliny the Elder also wrote that the name comes from the Ionians who lived on the island.[8] In the Ottoman period the island was called Anza or Aina, and its present name was officially established in the 19th century after over 2000 years of usage. During the ancient times the island was also called "Φοινίκη" (Phiniki), named after and by the Phoenicians and in the 3rd century, when the island joined League of the Islanders, was likely temporarily named Arsinoe after the wife of Ptolemy II[9][7] Today the inhabitants of the Cycladic Islands call the island Nio, a name deriving from the Byzantine Era.[10] The name Little Malta, which is found in texts of travelers during the Ottoman domination, is related to the permanent presence of pirates on the island.[11] In languages with Latin script, the island name is Nio or Io.

Geography and geology[edit]

The shape of Ios resembles a rectangle, with an average side size of 15 km (9.3 mi) and 7 km (4.3 mi) respectively. The longest axis is in the NW direction, from the Karatza cape to the Achlades Peninsula and is 17.5 km (10.9 mi) long, while the longest axis, in the AD direction, is 14 km (8.6 mi) long. Ios has 86 km (53.4 mi) of coastline, of which 32 km (19.9 mi) are sandy beaches.[12]

The highest elevation (723 m, 2372 ft) is the Kastro (Greek: Κάστρο) peak also called Pyrgos (Greek: Πύργος), located in the center of the island, while around the Kastro are the next three Highest peaks: Xylodema (Greek: Ξυλόδεμα) (660 m, 2165 ft), Kostiza (Greek: Κοστίζα) (586 m, 1923 ft) and Prophetis Elias (Greek: Προφήτης Ηλίας) (490 m, 951 ft).[12]

Ios consists almost entirely of metamorphic rocks, on which lie limited quaternary appearances.[12]

Plan Homer[edit]

In case of extreme events like earthquakes and wildfires, the Municipality of Ios had prepared a general plan called Homer (Greek: Όμηρος) which includes the cooperation of all Iitians.[13]


Historic population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1696 3,000—    
1771 1,400−1.01%
1829 2,177+0.76%
1856 2,167−0.02%
1879 2,113−0.11%
1889 2,043−0.34%
1896 2,171+0.87%
1907 2,090−0.35%
1920 2,154+0.23%
1928 1,797−2.24%
1940 2,041+1.07%
1951 1,753−1.37%
1961 1,343−2.63%
1971 1,270−0.56%
1981 1,362+0.70%
1991 1,654+1.96%
2001 1,838+1.06%
2011 2,024+0.97%
2021 2,299+1.28%
Source: [14][12][15][16][17][18][19][20]



According to the Greek census 2011, 2084 people live in Ios. 1754 of which live in the capital town of Chora. From the 1940s to the early 1970s, the population of the island reduced consistently. The main causes of this phenomenon were the migration movement, the epidemiological conditions of the time and to a lesser extent, the loss of men aged between 18 and 45 during the war.[12]


The island is famous for its local cheeses. They are mainly made in the municipal creamery using milk from goats or sheep. The most famous one is the "skotíri" (σκοτύρι), a sour cheese with the smell of summer savory. Popular dishes of Ios are the "tsimediá" (τσιμεντιά , pumpkin flowers stuffed with rice) and "mermitzéli" (μερμιτζέλι, handmade barley).[25]


In 1827 the local leaders of Ios wrote a letter to the revolutionary government of Greece requesting a school to open in the island.[26] During the 1850s the first school opened which housed a small number of students of all ages. The type of school that operated was called Skolarcheion (Greek: Σχολαρχείον) and was equivalent to an elementary school with some high school basic courses. Most students at the time didn't graduate as their time was occupied helping their families in the fields. This resulted in a large percentage of illiterate children. The richer families sent their children to schools of the nearby islands. From 1936 the first elementary school was founded. In 1972 the first kindergarten was opened and in 1980 the first high school that had some senior high school courses. Today, in Chora there is a kindergarten, a high school, a senior high school and an EPAL high school.[27]



The Skarkos hill

Ios from the prehistoric era and thanks to its safe natural harbour played an important role on the sea roads to Crete. The early Cycladic settlement on Skarkos hill and other prehistoric sites on the island have been found by archaeologists.[28] [29] Ios was under the influence of the Minoan and then of the Mycenaean civilisation. The Phoenicians most likely arrived on the island and maintained their presence until the 9th century BC.

Ios became Ionian at some point after, as testified by its membership in the Delian Amphictyony.[30] From 534 BC the island paid taxes to Athens.[28]

Classical and Hellenistic times[edit]

Ios was an important and strong city in Classical and Hellenistic times. Its decline began with the Roman occupation, when it was used as a place for exile, and continued in Byzantine times. The island experienced a recovery at the time of the Duchy of Naxos, but the Ottoman domination interrupted it. Palaiokastro, a ruined Venetian castle from the 15th century lies on the northern part of the island.[28] Ios was important enough in the Roman province of Insulae to become a suffragan see of the Metropolis of Rhodes, but later faded and disappeared.


During the 3rd and 2nd century BC as Ios became part of the league of the islanders, she minted her own coins, most of them can be found in the Berlin Archaeological Museum and British Museum. There are 28 known different coins. They depict Homer, a palm tree or Athena, as she was worshiped on the island. Most of them had the writing ΙΗΤΩΝ meaning of the people of Ios.[31]

Middle Ages[edit]

Albanians settled in Ios either by invitation of the Crispi family or later in 1579 to repopulate the island as its inhabitants had been sold into slavery in 1558. The Albanians of Ios were linguistically assimilated in the second half of the 18th century as Greeks settled in the island.[32]


Although Ios did not have a strong naval force, it was one of the first islands to raise the flag of revolution in when the Greek War of Independence began in 1821. Ios took part in the naval battle at Kuşadası on July 9, 1821, as well as in the Second National Assembly at Astros in 1823 and in the Third National Assembly at Troezen in 1827.

Modern times[edit]

In a modern era, the island began to emerge in the 1970s as an increasingly popular tourist destination for young people in Europe. Today Ios retains its reputation as an island of youth and entertainment, with excellent tourist infrastructure, an organised marina at its harbour and an adequate road network.[33]

Ecclesiastically, its territory is now part of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Thera, Amorgos and the Islands of the Church of Greece.

Homer's death[edit]

The legend[edit]

Bust of Homer in Ios

The island is very strongly connected with Homer, because according to the legend, Homer died in Ios. Considered the greatest epic poet of the Greeks, the legend accounts that he died because he violated a Pythian oracle. According to Pausanias, Homer visited the Delphi oracle to ask Pythia about his parents and origins. Pythia replied with the oracle "Your mother's home is the island of Ios, which will accept you when you die, but you should be careful of the enigma of the young children." The poet, however, broke the oracle and traveled to Ios. There he saw some small children fishing on the coast. He asked what they had caught and the children replied: "Whatever we get we leave it and whatever we don't get we take it with us". The children were talking about lice. Those who found them, killed them, but those who did not find them, had them to their heads. Homer did not find the answer, but he remembered the warning of Pythia. He was horrified and ran away quickly.[34] The road was muddy and the poet in his hurry slipped and fell, hitting his head and dying almost instantaneously.[35]

According to another version, Homer died from his sadness that he did not solve the puzzle, while a third version says he was already seriously ill and went to Ios because he knew he would die. Of course, the death of Homer is not based on historical records, but on myths and traditions that circulated from oral tradition. Pausanias simply recorded a popular narrative.[34][12]

Count Pasch de Krienen's expedition[edit]

In 1771, a Dutch count named Pasch di Krienen after having read the narrative, came to Ios in order to find the grave. He was informed by a local priest of the Saint Aikaterini Chapel that there is a place with marbles and some of which had inscriptions. He was told that they were constructed long after Homer's death but he persisted and with the help of Spyridon Valetas he found three graves and the last one had inscriptions about Homer including Ενθάδε την ιερήν κεφαλήν κατά γαία καλύπτει ανδρών ηρώων κοσμήτορα θείον Όμηρον which means here under the earth lies the sacred head of heroic Homer. When he found this, Pasch was sure that the grave belonged to the epic poet but he spotted some grammatical mistakes on the gravestone and he began doubting its authenticity. After having spent considerable time and money, he decided to give up after having also found two graves at Agia Theodoti[36][37]

On 25 January 1884 the alleged tomb of Homer was visited by Theodore and Mabel Bent during their tour of the Cyclades.[38]


Ios attracts a large number of young tourists, many of whom used to sleep on their sleeping bags during the 1970s on the popular beach of Mylopotas after partying through the night. Today Mylopotas beach has been developed to an equivalent mass package tourism resort like Platys Gialos and Paradise Beach of Mykonos.


Ios has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification: BSh). [39] Similar to other Cyclades islands, there is an almost constant breeze from the north during summer, known as meltemi, which moderates temperatures.

Climate data for Ios island (3m)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 14.7
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 10.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 74
Source: http://penteli.meteo.gr/stations/ios/ (2019 – 2020 averages)


Year Event
3rd millennium BC Humans start living in the island
350 BC The island minted the first coins depicting Homer
314 BC The island joined the League of the Islanders
300 BC - 200 It becomes part of the Roman Empire and part of the provincia insularum
286 It becomes part of the Byzantine Empire
1207 The island is conquered by the Franks and becomes a part of the Duchy of Naxos
1269 The island is regained by the Byzantine Empire
1296 The island is conquered by Domenico Schiavi and remained in his family
1335 The island is conquered for a second time by the Duchy of Naxos
1371 The island is under Francesco I Crispo's control and his family's
1537 The island is occupied by Hayreddin Barbarossa but remains under the control of the Crispo family
1558 The island is attacked by Pirates causing most of the people of Ios to move to other islands
1566 After the death of the last Cripi, the island becomes part of the Ottoman Empire and its under the administration of Joseph Nasi
March 1, 1821 Panagiotis Amoiradakis raised the flag of the Greek revolution in Ios
July 9, 1821 The island takes part in the Naval battle of Kuşadası
1830 Ios becomes part of Greece

Notable people[edit]





  1. ^ Municipality of Ios, Municipal elections – October 2023, Ministry of Interior
  2. ^ "Αποτελέσματα Απογραφής Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2021, Μόνιμος Πληθυσμός κατά οικισμό" [Results of the 2021 Population - Housing Census, Permanent population by settlement] (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority. 29 March 2024.
  3. ^ "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), IOS".
  4. ^ "Stephanus-Ethnica".
  5. ^ "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-21.
  6. ^ "ΦΕΚ A 87/2010, Kallikratis reform law text" (in Greek). Government Gazette.
  7. ^ a b Newsroom (19 October 2015). "Ίος: Το νησί του Ομήρου". Archived from the original on 11 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Untitled Document". gym-iou.kyk.sch.gr. Archived from the original on 2017-12-28. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  9. ^ "Cultural Portal of the Aegean Archipelago".
  10. ^ "History of Ios Island". Archived from the original on 2017-03-18. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  11. ^ "Η Νιος σε τόνους του άσπρου και του μαύρου - σχετικά άρθρα - Το Βήμα Online". Archived from the original on 2018-03-19. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  12. ^ a b c d e f "ΒΕΛΤΙΩΣΗ ΥΦΙΣΤΑΜΕΝΗΣ ΟΔΟΥ ΠΡΟΣΒΑΣΗΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΠΑΡΑΛΙΑ ΚΑΛΑΜΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΝΗΣΟΥ ΙΟΥ" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-03-10. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  13. ^ https://diavgeia.gov.gr/doc/68%CE%97%CE%97%CE%A9%CE%95%CE%A0-%CE%A3%CE%A7%CE%9C?inline=true [bare URL PDF]
  14. ^ http://dlib.statistics.gr/Book/GRESYE_02_0101_00025.pdf p.36
  15. ^ http://dlib.statistics.gr/Book/GRESYE_02_0101_00023.pdf p.211
  16. ^ http://dlib.statistics.gr/Book/GRESYE_02_0101_00016.pdf p.180
  17. ^ http://dlib.statistics.gr/Book/GRESYE_02_0101_00004.pdf p.97
  18. ^ http://dlib.statistics.gr/Book/GRESYE_02_0101_00003.pdf p.17
  19. ^ http://dlib.statistics.gr/Book/GRESYE_02_0101_00002.pdf p.14
  20. ^ http://dlib.statistics.gr/Book/GRESYE_02_0101_00097.pdf p.37
  21. ^ Βικέντιος Κορονέλι Isolario volume II page 262, Venice 1696
  22. ^ Πας Βαν Κρινεν Brave discrizione dell Archipelago, Livorno 1773
  23. ^ "Drakou 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-10-20. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  24. ^ Kapodistrias 1829 census
  25. ^ "Ίος (Γαστρονομία - τοπικά προϊόντα) - αθηνόραμα travel". www.athinorama.gr. Archived from the original on 2018-01-04.
  26. ^ Η εκπαίδευση κατά την Ελληνική Επανάσταση page 182 ISBN 9789605600518
  27. ^ http://nefeli.lib.teicrete.gr/browse/sdo/tour/2011/DrakouMargarita/attached-document-1300432232-113994-30049/drakou2011.pdf Archived 2020-10-27 at the Wayback Machine page 66-67
  28. ^ a b c "Ίος Ιστορία". www.iosinfo.gr. Archived from the original on 2017-03-01.
  29. ^ "iosgreece.info". Retrieved 2024-02-15.
  30. ^ "Amphictyones" – A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890)
  31. ^ E Nesos Ios(Ios Island) by Theodoros Othonaios, Athens 1936 page 78
  32. ^ Jochalas, Titos P. (1971): Über die Einwanderung der Albaner in Griechenland: Eine zusammenfassene Betrachtung ["On the immigration of Albanians to Greece: A summary"]. München: Trofenik. pg. 89–106.
  33. ^ "Ίος Ιστορία". Archived from the original on 2017-03-01. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  34. ^ a b "Πώς πέθανε ο ποιητής Όμηρος που αψήφησε το χρησμό του μαντείου; Ο θρύλος με το αίνιγμα που δεν κατάφερε να λύσει και τον οδήγησε στο θάνατο - ΜΗΧΑΝΗ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΟΝΟΥ". 16 April 2015. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017.
  35. ^ Herodotus (1761). "Hē tou Hērodotou Halikarnasseōs historia (Romanized form)".
  36. ^ GŎmýrou bíos@ kaì poiýmata page 45
  37. ^ Breve Descrizione del Arcipelago by Pasch di Krienen, 1771, page 35-47
  38. ^ “Next morning, Friday 25th [January, 1884] the Demarch came to fetch us to breakfast… Afterwards we and the Demarch started to Plaketos at the other side of the island: 3 hours. We saw the supposed tomb of Homer who died here on his way from Samos to Athens…’ Extract from The Travel Chronicles of Mrs J. Theodore Bent, Vol. 1 (2006, Oxford, p.39). See also, Theodore Bent, The Cyclades, or Life Among the Insular Greeks (1885, London, pp.151ff.).
  39. ^ "Monthly Bulletins". Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  40. ^ "Museum of Modern Art Jean Marie Drot | Ios Chora, Ios Island, Cyclades | Yallou". Archived from the original on 2021-10-03. Retrieved 2018-06-03.

External links[edit]