- Category: route
Ikaria owes its name to Icarus, the hero of Greek mythology son of Daedalus, both of which managed to escape from the labyrinth of Crete, due to the feathers and wax wings they made. However, Icarus flied too close to the sun, so his wings melted and he fell into the Aegean Sea, where he died. When he was found, he was buried in an island that was given its name (Ikaria), in honor of the fallen Icarus. However, apart from the legend of Icarus, Ikaria has been known from ancient times due to elements, such as its thermal springs, east and west of the main port of Agios Kirikos, and its famous dark red wine.
In comparison to its neighbors, Ikaria may not result immediately appealing for some types of visitors. However, those who love hiking around wild beauty, with no added infrastructure and crowds will enjoy the typical immaculate ancient Greek vibe of the island, almost untouched by tourism influence. For example, the twisting, mountainous road that connects Agios Kirikos, the capital of the island, with its second port, named Evdilos in the north; this is recommended for those who like adventure, and as a final result it offers the greatest views of the coast, the sea and neighboring islands. Ikaria is one of the greenest islands of the Aegean Sea, counting on a great variety of wildlife. The most popular resort is found in Armenistis, an area with some excellent beaches and an increasing amount of tour facilities. In fact, the whole profile of the island is orientated to those who enjoy simple and traditional facts, instead of tourist whims. But despite these facts, Ikaria counts on several places for amusement, since locals are actually fun and hospitable people that enjoy socializing and partying.
Ikaria has been inhabited since at least 7000 BC, when it was populated by the Neolithic pre-Hellenic people that Greeks called Pelasgians. Around 750 BC, Greeks from Miletus colonized Ikaria, establishing a settlement in the area of present day Campos, which they called Oenoe for its wine.
Ikaria, in the 6th century BC, became part of Polycrates' sea empire, and, in the 5th century BC, the Ikarian cities of Oenoe and Thermae were members of the Athenian-dominated Delian League. In the 2nd century, the island was colonized by Samos. At this time, the Tauropolion, the temple of Artemis was built at Oenoe. Coins of the city represented Artemis and a bull. In the 14th century Ikaria became part of a Genoese Aegean empire. At one stage, during this time, the Ikarians actually destroyed their harbors to deter the aggressive visitors. The Knights of St. John, who had their base in Rhodes, exerted some control over Ikaria until 1521, when the Ottoman Empire incorporated Ikaria into its realm. The Ikarians hanged the first Turkish tax collector but managed to escape punishment, as none would identify the guilty one and the Turks realistically determined that there was neither profit nor honor in punishing all. Thanks in part to the island's primitive conditions and poverty; the Turks imposed a very loose administration, not sending any officials to Ikaria for several centuries.