Pre-History of Alonissos

There is speculation as to whether the island currently known as Alonissos is in actual fact that of antiquity.  Many archaeologists believe the original island was known as Ikos.  The original island has not been identified, but there are claims that the islands were originally joined to the Pelion Peninsula and that the centre of the ancient island of Ikos became submerged and is sunk on the north side of the present day island of Alonissos, leaving a number of small islets.

Near Kokkinokastro there is evidence of an ancient acropolis and sections of the walls of the ancient fortifications can still be seen.  Excavations by archaeologists near Kokkinokastro have unearthed tools from the Middle Stone Age (100,000 to 33,000 BC) and these are thought to be the oldest signs of human existence in the Aegean Sea.  Signs of a New Stone Age settlement have been discovered in the bay of Agios Petros on the island of Kyra Panagia, while the island of Psathoura boasts the ruins of an ancient city beneath the sea, a short distance from the port.



Alonissos in Ancient History

Prior to the 12th century BC the island was settled by the Dolopes who were an Achaean tribe related to the Pelasgi.

In the 5th century BC the surviving villages preserved a common non-Greek language.  In 478 BC Ikos became part of the Athenian Alliance but was conquered by the Spartans in 403 BC.  The Athenians regained control until 356 BC when Ikos was overrun by the pirate Sostratos.  During the wars between the Macedonians and the Athenians, Ikos came under the influence of Phillip of Macedonia.  Ikos became part of the Roman Empire from 146 to 42 BC when the Romans gave the island back to the Athenians.



Alonissos During the First Millenium

From the 3rd AD century Christianity was embraced by the inhabitants and as part of the Byzantine Empire, Ikos flourished with many churches, monasteries and fortifications being constructed.  The uninhabited islands surrounding Alonissos became important centres of monastic life and many still belong to the holy monastery of Megisti Lavra which is considered to be the most important of the monasteries of Mount Athos.

The traditional houses of the Chora were built during the 10th century AD.



Alonissos During the Second Millenium

After the fall of Constantinople in 1204, Ikos was turned over to the Gyzi brothers, who were Venetian pirates.  After the Ottomans broke up the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Venetians were in control and Ikos saw a rapid decline.  In 1538 the pirate Barbarossa raided and devastated the island.  In the 16th century the island was re-inhabited by a Greek population under the auspices of the Ottoman's and the island became known as Liadromia.

The Treaty of London in 1830 included the Northern Sporades and the present area of the Marine Park in the newly established Hellenic State.  After this date the island assumed its present name of Alonissos.  The inhabitants took part in the pre-revolution uprisings against the Turks and were involved in the revolution of 1821.

During World War II the island was occupied by Bulgarian forces.  The vines on the island were decimated by the wine louse Phylloxera in 1956 and then in 1965 the island suffered a terrible earthquake which devastated the houses in the Chora.  The inhabitants of the Chora were moved to housing built in the port of Patitiri, leaving the Chora deserted.

Many houses in the Chora have been bought by Northern Europeans and renovated and new houses built so that the Old Village has a new life during the calm winter months and a massive vibrancy and energy during the height of the summer.