Astypalaia has travelled through time with the
same name. Small, trivial changes have portrayed
her as "Astoopalia", "Astropalia", and
According to Greek mythology, Astypalaia and
Europe were the daughters of Finikos and Perimidis.
From the union of Astypalaia and Poseidon, god of
the water, the Argonaut, Agaeos was born and so was
first settled by the Kares who named her "Pyra" for
the red colour of her soil. Because of her many
fragrant flowers and her fruit, the Ancient Greek
called her "the God's Bank".
"Astypalaia - History and stories" - a book
by Lefteris Xanthos
Astypalaia has gone through the Occupation of
Crete, the Minoan Era and later on became Greek
because of settlers who came from Megara.
During the ancient years, the island must have
shown a significant climax as can be witnessed by
the various findings, mainly coins which were found
during excavations and from the frequent references
in texts of ancient writers. The findings are on
display at the Archaeological Museum which is open
to the public at Pera Yalos and where the visitor
can begin to understand the life of
During the Hellenistic Era, it was a port (a
station of Ptolemy of Egypt) and during the Roman
Period, it showed a great development owed to its
abundant, natural ports which resulted in starting
points against the pirates. During the Byzantine
Ages, the escalation of piratism brought about
changes to the architectural structure and location
of the houses of the island, such as the decline of
dwellings and the movement of the population
within the constructed walls of the castle for
protection. This era marks the construction of the
Castle of Agios Ioannis, situated on the
southwestern coast of Astypalaia, whose remains can
be found up to today.
The Romans, who appreciated each country's food
most of all, called Astypalaia "fish-bearing"
because of the great amount and high quality of
fish the island has.
However, the period with the most significant
mark, the Castle, which has survived up to our
days, is that of the Venetian Conquest after the
destruction of the Byzantine Empire by the Franks
in 1204, and after the creation of Doukatos of
Naxos, Markos Sanouthos, the Venetian founder,
conceded Astypalaia to the nobleman, John Querini,
also of Venetian descent. He was the founder and
its first owner of the lodging which consisted of
the center of today's settlement. The Venetian
stayed in Astypalaia from 1207 to 1269 during the
time which the Byzantine ruled. However, in 1310,
John Querini the second, governor of Tinos and
Mykonos and the descendant of John Querini the
first, conquered Astypalaia again with the help of
Markos Grimanis. The Querini family remained the
rulers of the island for about 300 years.
Each in his rules, renovated and added to the
Castle. Stone plaques with the family emblem of the
Venetian nobility who built and dwelt in the
They are built into various points of the walls
and stand memory to their splendor of long ago. One
of these plaques has survived up to our days and is
built in a part of the Castle where it can be
admired by the visitor.
It was placed there in March 1413, the day which
was dedicated to their patron Saint Querini, John
Querini the fourth, "Count of Astypalaia" and his
wife Isabetta. The Venetians lost Astypalaia in
1537 when Barbarosa the terrible, took over the
During Turkish rule, Astypalaia had reserved
privileges and so she remained self-governed.
Astypalaia took part in the Greek Revolution of
1821, but, like the rest Dodecanese, she was not
included in the provisions of the free Greek
Nation. She remained under Turkish Rule until 1912
when the Italian rule followed.
Along with the Dodecanesian islands, she was
finally united to the rest of Greece on the 7th of