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Poros before Christ

During the Mycenaean period (1400-1100 BC), a strong naval force with a naval base was already established on the rocky island of Modi (or Liontari) on the east coast of Poros. During the Archaic period (700-380 BC), the northern part of Poros, Calauria (now: Kalavria), fell under the rule of Troezen, an Ancient Greek city on the Attica peninsula.

From the 7th to the 3rd century BC Poros was, at least according to some ancient historians, evidence has never been found, the capital of an alliance ('Amphiktyonia') formed by the city-states of Hermioni, Epidaurus, Aegina, Athens, Prassia, Nauplia and Orchomenos. It was a nautical, religious and political confederation, established to protect their independence and their trade with Argos, in ancient times one of the most important places in the Peloponnese. In 520 BC, the sacred temple of Poseidon was built, which was also used as a refuge for asylum seekers.

The first Persian attack on Greece took place at the beginning of the 5th century B.C., the second one in the spring of 480 B.C. When the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens (431-404 B.C.) ended, the period of peace also extended to the islands in the Argo-Saronic Gulf. In the middle of the 4th century BC, Greece came under Macedonian rule.

In response, Troezen, followed by Kalavria, offered refuge to Athinogenis, a great enemy of Macedonia. Later, this Athinogenis would become the tyrant of this area. After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the Ptolemies of Egypt became the next rulers of Greece and Poros. In 273 BC, the final eruption of the volcano Methana changed the morphology of Poros and gave it its present form, consisting of the separate islands of Kalavria and Spheria.

Poros after Christ

Like the rest of Greece, Poros came under Roman rule from 86 BC to 395 AD and became part of the Byzantine Empire from 330 to 1204. During the Byzantine era Poros was often attacked and plundered by pirates. Around 1460 and in 1715, Arvanites (originally from Albania) from the mainland, especially around Nauplion, fled from the Ottomans to Poros and established colonies there. Over the years, the Arvanites and the Greeks of Poros merged into a new society.

In 1484, Poros was occupied by Venice; the Venetians used Poros as a strategic port in their naval battle against the Ottomans. Poros, with about 15,000 inhabitants, was one of the largest cities in Greece, at that time the most powerful city in the far surroundings, because also Methana, Epidauros, Damalas, Fanari and Valario fell under Poros' sphere of influence.

The Venetian domination ended in the year 1715 and they were succeeded by the Ottomans, although much later than in the rest of Greece. Shipping and trade were the main activities on Poros. However, the fleet of Poros did not have such a great reputation as that of Hydra and Spetses, which were much more engaged in war activities.

On the other hand, the role of Poros in the Greek War of Independence was very important. Poros became an important transit route (due to its proximity to the Peloponnese) and of revolutionary meetings. The first Greek naval base and Naval College were built and established on Poros in 1828, and remained there until 1878. The great animator behind this was Otto I (actually the 17-year-old Prince Otto of Bavaria), first king of Greece from 6 February 1832 to 23 October 1862.

In September 1828, Poros was also the centre of an important meeting, crucial for the Greek state: the ambassadors of England, France and Russia met Ioannis Kapodistrias on Poros and discussed with him the definition of the borders of the modern Greek state, which was finally founded in 1830. The tyrannical Kapodistrias was assassinated on 9 October 1831 in the Greek city of Nauplion.

The Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji (1714) between Russia and the Ottoman Empire ensured that both Russian warships and merchant ships were allowed to sail freely in Ottoman waters. Russian activities increased to such an extent that a complete supply station was built on Poros, including a factory for the production of ship's biscuit.

After Greek independence, Ioannis Kapodistrias demanded all facilities for the Greek military fleet, but offered the Russians a nearby alternative location. The Russians built a much larger supply station here that was used well into the 19th century. Naturally, the number of Russian residents on Poros also increased during this period and a Russian school was even established. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Russian naval activities declined sharply and all facilities were given to the Greeks by the Tsar of Russia. The Greeks, however, did not use the facilities, which slowly collapsed and became overgrown. Most activities on Poros were moved to the naval base at Salamis. It was only in 1989 that the complex on Poros became a protected architectural monument.

During the Cretan Revolution (1866-1969) against Ottoman rule, Cretan families fled to Poros, among other places. Most of the refugees came from the Rethymno region and were well received by the residents of Poros led by their mayor Drosinos. Descendants of these Krtenzer families still live on Poros; surnames such as Perasakis, Alexandrakis, Stagakis, Klados, Spithouris, Kanellakis and many others remind us of this.

From 29 January 1941 to 18 April 1941, Poros-born Alexandros Koryzis was the 131st Prime Minister of Greece. He committed suicide when Adolf Hitler's German troops marched into Athens.

After the 1950s, tourism to Poros took off, however, most tourists still came in the form of day-trippers from Athens. Later, foreign tourists also began to find Poros.

At the end of 2009, the Institute of Marine Archaeological Research discovered a shipwreck from the late Mycenaean period south-east of Poros, near the rocky island of Modi. It was probably a trading ship carrying vases of olive oil and/or wine.

See also the history page of Greece.



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Last updated May 2024
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