Ios (island)

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The harbour of Ios
The harbour of Ios
Emblem of Ios Island in Black color[1]
Ios is located in Greece
Coordinates: 36°43′N 25°20′E / 36.717°N 25.333°E / 36.717; 25.333Coordinates: 36°43′N 25°20′E / 36.717°N 25.333°E / 36.717; 25.333
Country Greece
Administrative region South Aegean
Regional unit Thira
City established 10 March 1835[2]
 • Mayor Michael Petropoulos[3] (since November 8, 2010[4])
 • Municipality 109.024 km2 (42.094 sq mi)
Highest elevation 713 m (2,339 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011)[5]
 • Municipality 2,024
 • Municipality density 19/km2 (48/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Niotis (pl. Niotes)[6]
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 840 01
Area code(s) 22860
Vehicle registration EM

Ios (Greek: Ίος, locally Νιός Nios) 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, 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).[7] Population was 2,024 in 2011 (down from 3,500 in the 19th century). Ios is part of the Thira regional unit.[8] Ios was the setting for the movie Ginger and Cinnamon (Dillo con parole mie). Also, scenes from the film Big Blue (Le Grand Bleu) were shot in Manganari.

City of Chora[edit]

Ios town

The Port of Ios is at the head of the Ormos harbor in the northwest. From there the bus or a 15-minute walk up the steep donkey path takes you to the village, known as Chora. Chora is a white and very picturesque cycladic village, full of stairs and narrow paths that make it inaccessible for cars of any kind. Today, the main path through this village is completely taken over by tourism in terms of restaurants, boutiques, bars and discothèques. Apart from the port and the village of Chora, Ios has only a few small settlements, just a group 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 amphitheater has been created by the German architect Peter Haupt (who died in 2003) at the top of the village hill. Unfortunately, cultural events rarely take place up there.


According to Plutarch it is thought that the name has derived from the ancient greek word for violets "Ία"(Ia) because they were commonly found on the island[9] and it is the most accepted etymology. Others say that the name is derived from the Hebrew word for rocks (אבנים "Ion") but Pliny the Elder writes that the name comes from the Ionians which lived in the island.[10] During the Ottoman empire the name was changed to "Αινέ(Ené)" or "Άνζα(Ánza)". During the ancient years the island was called "Φοινίκη" (Phiniki), named after and by the Phoenicians.[9]


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 τσιμεντιά "tsimediá" (pumpkin flowers stuffed with rice) and  μερμιτζέλι "mermitzéli" (handmade barley).[11]



The Skarkos hill.

Ios from the prehistoric era and thanks to its safe natural harbor played an important role on the sea roads to Crete. The early Cycladic settlement on Skarkos hill, as well as the many prehistoric sites on the island, tell us a lot about this period.[12]

9-5 century bc[edit]

Ios was found under the influence of the Minoan and then of the Mycenaean civilization. The Phoenicians seem to arrive on the island and maintain their presence until the 9th century BC. Ios is Ionian from one point onwards, since he belongs to Ionic Amphictyonia, and from 534 BC begins to pay a tax in Athens.[12]

Classical and Hellenistic times[edit]

Ios was a important and a strong city in classical and Hellenistic times. Its decline begins with the Roman occupation, where it is used as a place for exile, which continues in Byzantine times. A small recovery comes for Ios at the time of the Duchy of Naxos, but the Ottoman domination interrupts it. The north end of Ios has a ruined Venetian castle from the 15th century.[12]


Greek Revolution flag.svg

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

Modern Times[edit]

In a new era, the island has begun to emerge since the 70's as it is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination for young people in Europe. Today Ios retains its reputation as the island of youth and entertainment, but also has excellent tourist infrastructure, organized marina at its harbor and good enough road network. This puts it with the best in the new era.

Homer's Death[edit]

According to the legend, the greatest epic poet of the Greeks 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 following oracle: "Πατρίδα της μητέρας σου είναι η νήσος Ίος, η οποία θα σε δεχθεί όταν πεθάνεις, αλλά φυλάξου από το αίνιγμα των νεαρών παιδιών" which means "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 got and his children replied: "Whatever we get we leave it and whatever we don't get we take it with us"(Όσσ’ έλομεν λιπόμεσθα, όσ’ ουχ έλομεν φερόμεσθα). 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.[13]

The road was muddy and the poet in his hurry slipped and fell. He hit his head and died almost instantaneously

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 the great poet is not based on historical studies, but on myths and traditions that circulated from mouth to mouth. Pausanias simply recorded a popular narrative.[13]


Today Ios operates the following educational institutions: Ios Kindergarten, Ios Elementary School, Ios High School with Lyceum Classes and an EPAL. The elementary school has more than 100 children and it is housed in a classical building in the center of Chora.[14][15]

Ecclesiastical history[edit]

Ios was important enough in the Aegean insular Roman province of Insulae to become a suffragan of its capital Rhodes's Metropolitan Archbishopric of Rhodes, but later faded and disappeared as a see.

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


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.



Sources and External links[edit]