Ikaria is an island in the Aegean Sea. Tradition says that the island’s name comes from Icarus, the son of Daedalus, who was believed to have fallen into the sea nearby. The island of Ikaria is mostly mountainous with most of the villages in the plains near the coast, while some are in the mountains.
The island of Ikaria is known to some as “Red Rock.” This is because when nationalists and communists fought in the Greek Civil War, the Greek government exiled approximately 13,000 communists to the island. Still today, there are many locals who have remained sympathetic to the communists, which is why the island is also called “Red Rock.”
The island is Ikaria has been inhabited since 7000 BC when it was populated by the Neolithic pre-Hellenic people. Greeks from Miletus colonized Ikaria in 750 BC. The island of Ikaria would become part of the sea empire of Polycrates during the 6th century BC and during the 5th century, the cities of Thermae and Oenoe would become members of the Athenian-dominated Delian League. Samos would colonize the island of Ikaria during the 2nd century. Also during the 2nd century BC the Temple of Artemis was built at Oenoe. Coins of that city would also represent Artemis as well as a bull.
Until 1521, the Knights of Saint John, who had their base in Rhodes, had some control over the island of Ikaria. Then the Ottoman Empire incorporated Ikaria into its kingdom. Ikarians would hang the first Turkish tax collector, but did not face any punishment, since the hangman could not be identified. The island of Ikaria would remain part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912 when the Ikarians would expel the Turkish garrison. This would gain the island their freedom. For five months, the island of Ikaria would remain independent until becoming part of the Kingdom of Greece.
Administrative Region for Ikaria Island, Greece
Area of Ikaria Island, Greece
255.3 km2 (98.6 sq mi)
Population of Ikaria Island, Greece
Top Attractions in Ikaria Island, Greece
Byzantine Odeon – Located in the village of Kampos. The Byzantine Odeon is located on the ancient site of Oenoe. The Odeon was built during the 1st century AD.
Church of Agia Irini – Located in Kambos, near the port. It is the oldest church of Ikaria, which was built on the site of a 4th century basilica. The church features columns from the old basilica and has frescos inside.
Koskina Castle – Located near Plagia, in the center of the island on top of a mountain. Built in the 11th century AD. Much of the castle is ruins, but some walls can still be seen and the view is spectacular.
Messakti Beach – 47 km northwest of Agios Kirikos. This is one of the prettiest beaches on the island with soft sand, gorgeous water, and green surrounding the area. Beach bars can be found at this beach.
Seychelles Beach – 20 km southwest of Agios Kirikos. This beach features impressive rocks surrounding it and emerald waters. The beach also has brightly colored rocks and pebbles.
Halari Gorge – Located in Nas, 50 km northwest of Agios Kirikos. The area features small lakes, waterfalls, narrow rivers, and old stone bridges. Perfect place to take a hike.
Ancient Springs – Located at Therma, just 2 km from Agios Kirikos. There is a scenic bay and small cove as well as a beach. View the remains of wrecked marble baths and a pre-historic aqueduct.
Church of Panagia Theoskepasti – Located in Marathos. This small church is unique as it has a rock for its rood. There are also some skulls of monks that are housed inside the church.
Miliopo Beach – 5 km northeast of Agios Kirikos. Close to the capital city, but a secluded beach, making for a tranquil experience. The beach is pebbles and not organized.
Kerame Beach – 10 km northeast of Agios Kirikos. Close to the capital, this beach can get busy during the summer. A sandy beach with idyllic waters, and rock formations that end in the sea.