Paros is the third largest island of the Cyclades, situated west of Naxos, from which it is separated by a narrow strait of about 3 miles, while the distance from Piraeus is 90 nautical miles. It has an area of 194.46 sq.kms and a coastline of 118,50 kms. The local population of the island, according to the latest census, comes to 14,000 inhabitants, and the number of annual visitors exceeds 200,000.

The geographical position of Paros in the center of the Aegean, the crossroads of the sea routes connecting mainland Greece with the islands of the Archipelago, the Asian Minor coast and the wider Mediterranean, has been through the centuries at the root of the island's development. Some of the shores of Paros form beautiful beaches (mainly on its eastern part) and natural little harbours, and some are rocky and steep. On its northern part they form the large bay of Naoussa, one of the most picturesque harbours in the Aegean.

The climate of the island is typical of the Cyclades: temperate, dry, with mild winters and little rain. Average temperature is about 18 degrees Celcius, but from May up to September it is considerably higher. During August, for about 20-30 days, the summer heat is abated by the 'meltemia', northerly winds reaching highs of 5-7 on the Beaufort scale during the day, and slowing down during the night.

The island has a rich flora: on the seashores there is the lily of the sea, the amaranth, various other weeds and sea fennel. On the plains there are various juniper and pistacia species, cedars, heather, etc., while on the semi mountainous and mountainous areas one can also find sage, oregano, fennel, rosemary, cyclamens (primroses) and anemones (buttercups). The vegetation in Paros is dominated by salt cedar trees, cypress, pine and locust trees, araucarias, grape vines, fig and olive trees. The wetlands of Paros make their own contribution of natural beauty to the landscape, enrich its flora and offer a vital biotope for migratory birds, which gather in Kolymbithres near Naoussa, Santa Maria, Molos, Chryssi Akti (Golden Beach), Alyki, Kambos and Livadia near Paroikia. Various agricultural products are cultivated on terraces on the slopes of the hills and on a number of plains. The island produces high quality olive oil, potatoes, wine, vegetables, fruit and cereals.

The main occupations of the locals, or else Parians, are fishing, farming, cattle raising and tourism. Among its various high quality products, Paros yields annually large quantities of wine, which has resulted in a number of small wineries and industrial units for ouzo – in particular, the famous local variety of "souma". The excellent parian gruyere, the olive oil and the figs cover mainly local consumption. The most fertile areas are those of Paroikia and Marpissa. Also, Paros has important minerals, topmost of which is the renowned snow-white parian marble.

History of Paros
6800 - 3200 BC • Stone age
Even since the 9th millennium BC navigation in the Aegean was already extensive, but only in the Neolithic age (6800 – 3200 BC) were the Aegean islands inhabited in an orderly way. The first traces of social life in Paros were found on the Saliangos islet, between Paros and Antiparos, where one of the oldest settlements in the pre-historic Aegean was established (5th – 4th millennium BC).

3200 - 1100 BC • Bronze age
During the bronze age (3200 - 1100 BC) three great civilizations emerge in the Greek world : the Cycladic (3200 - 2000 BC), the Minoan (2000 - 1500 BC) and the Mycenaean (1600 - 1100 BC). Remnants of a proto-Cycladic settlement were found on the hill of Kastro (Paroikia), and significant settlements dating to the same era were also found in various other places on Paros (Kambos, Drios, Koukounaries, Plastiras, Glyfa, Farangas). During the Minoan dominance in the Aegean Paros became an important military and commercial center of the Minoan state and was colonized by Cretans. According to the myth, Alkaios, the leader of the Cretan colonists, built the first city on the site of present-day Paroikia, giving it the honorary name of Minoa (regal city). Following the decline of Minoan Crete, a new power, the Mycenaean, emerges in mainland Greece. Remnants of the Mycenaean civilization in Paros were found on the Koukounaries hill, near Naoussa, and on the hill of Kastro in Paroikia.

1100 - 700 BC • Geometrical age
At the turn of the millennium a group of Arcadians, under their leader Paros, establish their own settlements on the island and name it after him. A little later new settlers arrive, the Ionians. Paros develops in to a great maritime power. Marble trading is a significant source of prosperity for the island, as is also agriculture and cattle raising.

700 - 480 BC • Archaic age

In 680 BC Parians colonize the island of Thassos and exploit the gold sediments of the Thracian coasts. Sculpture is on the rise in Paros and famous workshops make their appearance. In the 7th century there is a significant boost in poetry, mainly represented by the lyric poet Archilochus who is compared to Homer. At the same time in the East a new power emerges, the Persians.

480 - 323 BC • Classic age
The oligarchic government of Paros welcomes the Persians on the island and a large part of its military follows the Persian fleet in their expeditions against Greece. Following the Persians defeat (480 BC), the Athenian fleet under Themistocles sails to the island and obliges Paros to join the Athenian Confederacy. It is during this time that the famous Parian sculptors, Agorakritus and Skopas, both born and working in Paros, create their superb works. The city of Paros (on the site of present-day Paroikia) has 50,000 inhabitants, magnificent buildings and temples, a theatre and a stadium. At the end of the classic age Paros becomes an ally of the Macedonians up to the death of Alexander the Great.

323 - 167 BC • Hellenistic age
The period between the death of Alexander the Great and the defeat of his successors by the Romans is a time of conflicts and general reshuffling with new powers contending sovereignty over the Cyclades. Paros remained under the rule of the Ptolemies for a long time.

167 BC - 330 • Roman period

Paros and the rest of the Cyclades, together with a large part of mainland Greece, are a province of the roman empire. Development is stalled and the island is used as a deportation location.

330 - 1204 • Byzantine period
The Christian faith was introduced to Paros in the 4th century, as it transpires from the remnants of paleochristian churches and monuments. It was during this time that the first church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani was built, by order of Agia Eleni. From the 10th century onwards Paros finds itself at the epicentre of pirate raids resulting in extensive devastation.

1204 - 1537 • Venetian occupation
Paros is included in the Ducat of the Aegean (1207) and comes successively under the rule of various Venetians families. The inhabitants of the island work in the fields as vassals with no ownership of the land, while at the same time they continue to be pestered by pirate raids and pilfering. Naoussa becomes pirate headquarters. The castles of Paroikia, Naoussa and Kefalos (Marpissa) are built during this period.

1537 - 1821 • Ottoman occupation
The chapter of the Venetian occupation of Paros ends with the occupation of the island by the awe-inspiring pirate Barbarossa (1537) and the ensuing utter destruction. The devastated island is now conquered by the Turks (1560). During the Russian-Turkish wars (1770 - 1777) the Russian fleet uses the safe haven of Naoussa as its base to control the Aegean.

Recent History
Paros is actively involved in the Greek revolution (1821). The Cyclades, together with the Peloponnese and mainland Greece, are at the core of the new free Greek state. Paros suffered immensely during the German occupation. Following the end of WWII the Parians are obliged to emigrate, initially to Piraeus and later abroad. Around 1960 a new era of development commences for Paros, founded mainly on tourism.



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