The island of Karpathos was in both ancient and medieval times closely connected with Crete and Rhodes. For the name of the island, there are many versions. The legend of the island says that because the first inhabitants loved their place too much, they robbed the Olympian gods and brought them here. For this act, they were called the Arpathians.
Its current name is mentioned, with a slight shift of one letter, in Homer's Iliad as Krapathos. Apollonius of Rhodes, in his epic Argonautica, made it a port of call for the Argonauts travelling between Libya and Crete. The island is also mentioned by Virgil, Pliny the Elder, and Strabo.
Karpathos is the mythological homeland of the Titan of Iapetus and the birth island of Proteus, and the land where Athina was raised. In Karpathos, Prometheus lived a part of his life.
In ancient times, there were four fortified cities: Arkesia in village Arkasa, Vrykous in the area of Vroukounta between Olympos and Saria, Potidaion in Karpathos Town, and Saros, on the island of Saria. On the steep slope of about 100 meters that separates the two islands today, on the side of Karpathos, there are ruins of the ancient temple of Poseidon, while the bay of Tristomo was the great natural harbor of ancient Vrykous.
Karpathos is located in the southeastern Aegean Sea between Crete and Rhodes, two islands that developed major civilizations over the centuries and influenced the culture of the island. Calm yet restless, Karpathos's shape looks like a lighting and the island emits an energy that evokes the visitors to explore even its most secluded areas.
The idiomorphic temperament and lifestyle of the Karpathians are its greatest charm. Its inhabitants are spontaneous and authentic andthey respect the traditions of their homeland.
Here time flies very slowly, people are always calm and at the same time energetic and lively as they like to have fun, to laugh and to party. Their frame of mind is reflected in their daily reactions, in the feasts that take place year-round as well as in sad events, such as Good Friday, when they grieve for the death of Christ, as if their own dear person had passed away.
Karpathos is wild and mountainous in its northern part and lowland as well as more developed in its southern.
In Karpathos, apart from pure tradition, you will also admire wonderful beaches. Along the coastline you will find extensive beaches with crystal clear waters and well-hidden inaccessible creeks.
The history of Karpathos begins during the Late Neolithic period, around 4000 BC, when residents of Asia Minor arrived and settled on the island developing their civilization until the 2000 BC. Meanwhile, the Minoan civilization started to develop and Minoans arrived in Karpathos, where they settled in either as settlers or as colonists.
The Minoan presence favored the economic and cultural development of society, which bares profound influences from the Minoan civilization. Around 1400 BC, Mycenaean colonists arrived and settled on the island. However, the island was depopulated in 1200 BC due to sea raids and was re-inhabited in 1000 BC by the Dorians. Karpathos flourished during that era.
Moreover, findings from Doric inscriptions bespeak the development of four towns on the island, Nisyros on Saria, Vroukountas located in today's homonym area, Arkesia near the modern settlement of Arkasa and Potidaion in today's Pigadia. Karpathos was subjugated by the Persians during the late 6th century, while it affiliated in the Athenian Confederacy in 478. During the Hellenistic period, it was a province of Rhodes. In 42 BC Karpathos is occupied by the Romans, who have granted privileges to the inhabitants. The Roman Empire lasted till 400 AD, when the island was occupied by the Byzantine Empire. During the Byzantine era and specifically from 650 to 1100, pirates from North Africa, Arabs and Moors, raided the island; this lead to the desertion of the coastal settlements and the creation of new ones, which are inhabited till today, in mountainous remote areas.
From 1204, when the island was occupied by the Crusaders, until 1537, the island was ruled by many conquerors. In 1282 the Genoese dominated the island, which was later governed by Andreas Kornaros, while in 1309 it was occupied by the Knights of St John and then by the Kornaros family until 1537, when occupied by the Turks.
The contribution of Karpathos in the revolution of 1821 was significant, but it wasn't incorporated in the newly established Greek State. The Dodecanese were ruled by the Turkish yore until 1912 and they were occupied by the Italians until March 1948, when Karpathos was affiliated with Greece. Karpathos speaks directly to the heart of its visitors, who speak highly of the island that preserves the traditions and protects its admirable beauty.