You’d think if we loved Paros so much, we’d avoid a place called anti-Paros, for fear that it’d be the exact opposite of the beautiful, peaceful, amazing island we love so much. But when we went to visit Antiparos, we found that it was just as beautiful, peaceful, and amazing as Paros, with an incredibly rich history!
Antiparos is located in the heart of the Cyclades islands, and is just under one mile from Paros via ferry. It is surrounded by small uninhabited islands.
Through the Byzantine period and up until the 13th century, it is not entirely certain who controlled Antiparos. In 1207, Antiparos was seized by a Venetian nobleman, and passed between Venetian nobles until 1537. In 1537, the Cyclades islands, including Antiparos, fell to the Ottoman empire. Between 1770 and 1774, Antiparos briefly belonged to the Russians, during the Orlov Revolt, so many of the amazing stalactites that were in caves in Antiparos can now be seen only at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. After 1774, Antiparos belonged again to the Ottomans. In 1794, pirates plundered Antiparos, and even kidnapped the daughter of the Venetian vice-consul. In 1821, during the Greek War of Independence, the Ottoman empire was overthrown in Greece. Having been one of the first to join the Greek War of Independence, Antiparos became part of the Greek state in 1832. During World War II, the southwestern tip of Antiparos, near Agios George, was used as a secret submarine base. In the 1960s, Antiparos was featured in the movie “Madalena”, and since then has become widely known to both Greeks and tourists for its beauty. Currently it is a very popular tourist destination.
One of the most famous sights in Antiparos is the great Cave. This cave is on several levels, and is believed to have an inscription from a famous poet from Ancient Greek times. In 1673, it was home to the Christmas day mass of archaeologist Marquis de Nointail, the French ambassador to Istanbul, and their companions–they lived in the cave for 3 days! Additionally, the cave bears the names of several of its visitors, including the poet Byron and Otto, the first king of Greece.
Antiparos also has a beautiful Venetian castle, dating back to the mid-15th century. Originally, it was build as a circular mound surrounded by houses that formed one continuous defensive wall, although they all had individual entrances facing inward. Since then, a church has been added, and the central mound is used as a water tank. Many of the houses now have new, outward-facing doors, and are used as shops. Around dusk, you can see many bats.
Interested in this small island with so much history? Join us on our upcoming retreat to Paros, Greece, September 13-16 with Rachel Nicks!