Homer wrote about a castle-like islet.
Northwest of Chios lies an island cluster encompassing seven islets, the largest of which is called Psará. With its rocky terrain reaching out to the sea, Psará looks like a castle in the middle of the open sea. The island’s serene landscape is an ideal environment for the visitor who seeks inner peace and tranquillity. Psará’s history goes back to ancient times. Homer refers to the island in Odyssey (with the name “Psirii”), whereas archaeological excavations revealed the existence of a Mycenaean civilisation in the settlement of “Arhontiki”.
The island boasts a glorious past since its powerful fleet played a highly important role in the 1821 Greek War of Independence. Psará used to be the third naval power in Greece, after Hydra and Spetses, and it is also the homeland of many brave war heroes, such as Kanaris, Nikodimos and Vratsanos. Psará however suffered the rage of the Turks who destroyed completely the island slaughtering its whole population on the 24 June 1824.
This tragedy inspired many artists, like the Greek painter Nikolaos Gyzis, who drew the famous painting “After the destruction of Psara”, and the national poet of Greece Dionyssios Solomos, who composed the legendary poem “The destruction of Psará”:
“On the all-black ridge of Psará
Glory walks by herself taking in
the bright young men on the war field
the crown of her hair wound
from the last few grasses left
on the desolate earth”
The Psará Holocaust is commemorated every year on the last Sunday of June with a variety of fascinating cultural events.
Walk around the island to discover:
• the Dormition of Virgin Mary Monastery
• Palaiokastro (old castle)
• Agios Nikolaos Church
• Kanaris’ house, who was a hero of the Greek War of Independence and also prime minister of Greece.
• the hill of Mavri Rahi, where the Slaughter Monument stands.
If you are a passionate beachgoer, embark on a day-tour across the neighbouring island of Antipsara with its beautiful sandy beaches.