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Island of Kythira
 
     
The isle of Kythira is located just 20km off Peloponnesus' southern shore, although it administratively forms part of Attica prefecture, which is over 200km away! The official interpretation for this is that historic links between Kythira and Attica are particularly strong; however, if it's all about historic links, then Kythira should belong to Crete, as it had been a colony therof since the Mycenean age. The island's unique beauty - according to Greek myth, it was there that love-goddess Aphrodite was born - exerted such an irresistible charm on Minoan Cretans, that they settled at its eastern shore, on the hillock that it nowadays called Kastri (situated at Paleopolis, near Avlemonas). If ceramic findings are anything to go by, these Cretans have carried over a great many vases from their motherland; still, an enen greater number of them must have been moulded in situ and decorated in a merry red which was extracted from the murex shells that abounded in the surroundings.

 

 
     
 
 
     
  A reason still unknown caused the Cretans to abandon the Kastri settlement in the middle of the 15th century BC. Some time later, in early 14th century BC, the new Myceneans settlers occupied the island, making their abodes both in the desert settlement and in other areas of the northern shore. After the Doric invasion in 1100 BC, a group of those newcomers reached the island (possibly from Argos), naturally driving off the Myceneans. At a later stage, ca. 600 BC, the Spartans (themselves a Doric tribe) ushered their Argive cousins into the sea and made themselves into the new masters of Kythira, a precious location for controlling the southern sea borders of their realm. The Athenians were, of course aware of that; wherefore they made sure they occupy the island already in the early years of the Peloponnesian War (424 BC) and used it as a base of operations for plundering Laconia. In the years of the Roman Empire Kythira came to be everybody's idea of a cool present! It was offered by Ceasar Augustus to his general C. Julius Eurycles as a thank-yoy gift for his valuable services rendered at the Battle of Actium; it was then presented by him to his little grandson , Herclanus, only to be turned it over to Emperor Hadrian, who finally returned it to the Spartans just before his death.  
     
 
 
 
Map of Peleponnese & Kythira Island
Map of Kythira
 
     
  In the Byzantine era, the island was an easy prey to pirate raids; indeed, it was inhabited by pirates, since the majority of its people sought refuge to neighbouring Peloponnesus. The island acquired its former vitality during the period of its Venetian occupation (1204 - 1797). However, in 1537 it was all but devastated when notorious pirate Hayredin Barbarossa stormed it and occupied the island's most densely populated part, namely the Castle of St. Demetrius (at modern-day Paleochora), which was turn into a mass of shambles and dead bodies. Still, the island was almost never plagued by the Turkish pest, which was worst by far. After the Venetian occupation - and a very brief French one - the British took over as masters of the island and maintained it long enough to tidy up the mess (1815 - 1864). The island's road network, its bridges, even the road-plan of its modern-day settlements are due to the British. Kythira was finally united with the rest of Greece in 1864.  
     
 
 
 
 
     
  Kapsali is the most highly developed tourist resort in the island. It features a nice sandy beach at its front, a picturesque fishing harbour at its end, and a nice paved quay with a maltitude of restaurants, ouzo-bars, and shops strewn along it. There is also a camping place in Kapsali - the only one in the island - which is really lovely, although entirely primitive and lacking almost all modern facilities. Still, it is pretty quiet and tidy, and the whole area ia covered by thick pine wood. At the east of Kapsali there are quite a few nice places worth a visit. The most popular of all is the Firi Ammos beach at the island's southeastern end - a pretty large pebbled beach that is very scarcely packed with people, with a small canteen at its end.  
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
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