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Geography and Landscape

Geography

Alonissos is part of the Northern Sporades, an archipelago belonging to Greece in the northwestern Aegean Sea. Alonissos is the fourth largest island in the Northern Sporades, after Evia, Skyros and Skopelos. The elongated Alonissos has an area of 64.5 km2. Alonissos is 4.5 km wide and has a length of about 20 km from southeast to northwest. Alonissos has a coastline of approximately 74 km.

Alonissos LandscapePhoto: Giuliagi Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the vicinity of Alonissos there are still some small islands, including the closest to Alonissos Peristera (16 km2), Piperi, the furthest from Alonissos, Kyra-Panagia (25 km2), the largest of the small islands around Alonissos, the mountainous Gioura (14 km2), the shepherd-inhabited Skantzoura (12 km2), Dio Adelfi (3 km2) and Psathoura (1 km2), the most northerly island of all Sporades.

Landscape

Alonissos BayPhoto: Public domain

Alonissos is a green, hilly island, covered with many pine forests and olive and grape orchards. The highest point on Alonissos is the Kouvouli (476 m), followed by the Geladias (456 m), the Tourkovigla (343 m), the Kalovoulos (355 m) and the Vouno (255 m). The island is known for its beautiful beaches, especially on the east side (including Chrisi Milia Kokkinokastro, Tzorzi Gialo and Steni-vala) and clear water. The 82 sandy, pebble and fine gravel beaches, which are nowhere long due to the rugged nature of the coastline, are surrounded by pine trees and beautiful rock formations. The west coast of Alonissos is much more rocky with steep cliffs in some places, and therefore has far fewer beaches. The seawater around Alonissos is known as the cleanest of the Aegean Sea.

Climate and Weather

Greece MeltemiPhoto: Public domain

Alonissos, like the other islands of the Sporades, has a Mediterranean climate with long warm summers and mild but fairly wet winters. In the summer months, maximum temperatures are around 30°C, in winter between 10-15°C. The Meltemi wind provides cooling in the summer months. In the period between October and April, it can be quite windy on Alonissos, between 5-7 on the Beaufort scale. The wind mainly blows after 10 a.m., in the afternoon the wind generally dies down again.

CLIMATE TABLEmax. temp.min.temp.hours of sunshine p/drainy days
January10136
February12246
March15356
April20675
May261195
June3115104
July3318112
August3217102
September291483
October221066
November16647
December11237

Plants and Animals

Plants

Olive Trees AlonissosPhoto: Petr Pakandl Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic no changes made

Dense pine forests cover a large part of Alonissos, but the many oak, olive and fruit trees also stand out.
Alonnisos and its surrounding islands are known for their wealth of medicinal plants and it is not for nothing that Alonissos the 'International Academy of Classical Homeopathy' is located. It is estimated that the islands have more than 6,000 plants of known medicinal value.
In the spring, Alonissos is covered with wildflowers such as poppies, daisies and chamomile.

Animals

Monk Seal AlonissosPhoto: Public domain

On the island of Gioura, just northeast of Alonissos, a wild goat species lives that can be compared to the kri-kri of Crete.
Very special are the rare monk seals or Monachus seals that live on Alonissos and some neighboring islands.
The National Maritime Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades was the first Greek maritime park (1992), and consists of Alonissos, six smaller islands (Peristera, Kyra Panagia, Gioura, Psathoura, Piperi and Skantzoura) and some uninhabited rocks. The area is an important habitat for many species of fish, birds, reptiles and mammals, including the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), which is known as one of the rarest animals in Europe. It is currently the largest maritime park in Europe (approx. 2260 km2).

Eleonara's Falcon AeginaPhoto: Mike prince Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The maritime reserve is an important habitat for many species of fish (approx. 300), birds (up to 80 species), reptiles and also mammals. In addition to the monk seal, there are other rare and unusual animals to see, including Eleonora's falcon, Audouin's gull, shag, and Gioura's wild goat. Furthermore, birds such as the hawk eagle, the cormorant, the Caspian gull, common swift, Alpine swift, the rock nuthatch, the black-headed and the little black-headed. The underwater fauna is also varied, with many benthic and fish species. Several species of dolphins and some whale species can be seen in the region, such as the common dolphin, the striped dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin, the Cuvier's dolphin, the pilot whale and the sperm whale.
Snakes are also found on Alonissos, most are harmless like the grass snake. But there are also vipers living on Alonissos, and they are poisonous.

History

Finds in the area around Kokkinokastro show that there must have been a human settlement on Alonissos more than 100,000 years ago. Alonissos is the only island in the Aegean Sea where such ancient remains of human settlements have been found. At that time, all the islands of the Sporades were still connected, what is now sea were then valleys and lakes.

It is believed that a Pelagic tribe lived on the island in prehistoric times, and that there may have been Cretan settlers during Minoan times. At the time, Alonissos was a farming island, with wine and olive oil as the main exports.

In classical times, Alonissos reached its economic and cultural peak. It produced high-quality wine, olive oil, and amphorae, and probably the god Posseidon was specially worshiped.

Alonissos CavePhoto: Adamantioa CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

When the Romans conquered Alonissos in the 2nd century BC, they used the island as a place of exile for Roman citizens. Prisons and military bases were built on surrounding islands such as Youra. Due to the high taxes, the local population gradually became impoverished, and the island fell back to its original status as a peasant island, where the produced was used for its own population.
The history of Alonissos, which dates back to the 3rd century AD. Christianity at that time can be compared to the history of the islands Skiathos and Skopelos, because in the 4th century AD there were many conflicts over these islands over the ownership of the island between Athens and Philip II of Macedonia.
This continued during the Byzantine period, and the island was ravaged by pirate attacks during this period. During these centuries many churches and monasteries were also built in the area.
Like neighboring islands, Alonissos came under the Venetian rule of the Ghisi family in 1207, headed by the Baron of Ghisi. The Venetians repaired and fortified the fortress on the island, which was then suitable to withstand attacks from Arab, Italian and Turkish pirates. In 1538, Alonissos was occupied by the Turks, and all the inhabitants of the island were locked up in the fortress and allowed to leave the fortress after approval of the Turks. It was not until 1830 that Alonissos was liberated from the Turks and Alonissos became part of the new and free Hellenic State, along with the rest of the other Sporadian islands.
During World War II, many young men of the island were killed in mainland Greece , Macedonia and on the border with Albania. In October 1940, Alonissos was taken by the Italians, but in April 1941 the islanders were called upon to do their patriotic duty and oppose the occupation of their island. They fought on the front lines throughout the war period, but when the Germans relieved the Italians, they served their island in a different way. They joined the EAM (a resistance group), organized the safe transportation of Australians, English and Cypriots to the Middle East, and constructed an entire network of resistance across all of the Northern Sporades Islands.
Later, when the Italians they left the command and administration of the area to the Germans. Towards the end of the war, the Germans, with the help of traitors, began to destroy the EAM. On August 15, 1944, eleven members of the EAM were gathered in the village square and shot in front of many islanders, a display of lust for power that was typical of the German occupation.
In 1950, all vineyards on Alonissos were affected by a disease., and in 1965 Alonissos was hit by another major natural disaster. An earthquake destroyed almost all buildings on the island. In the 21st century, Alonissos focuses mainly on sustainable tourism.

See also the history of Greece on landenweb.com.

Population

Alonissos beach scenePhoto:Catlemur Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Alonissos has about 2,750 inhabitants and has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Most people live in the capital of Alonissos town (Pattiri) and nearby towns, Rsoum and Votsi. The coastal towns of Steni-vala and Kalamakia are also more densely populated than the rest of the island. The northern part of Alonissos is virtually uninhabited. The population density of Alonissos is approximately 55 inhabitants per km2.

Language

Grieks Alfabet Photo:M. Adiputra CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Modern Greek or New Greek, belongs to the Indo-European language family and is one of the oldest living languages. Although belonging to the same language family, Greek hardly resembles any other Indo-European language. This is because Greek has been able to develop relatively isolated from foreign influences.

In classical times several Greek dialects were used side by side, but the Attic of the city of Athens was understood throughout Greece. From the fourth century BC, Attic faced competition from Koine Greek, a type of common civilized Greek used from Macedonia to the Near East. From that time on, Attic was used in education and was the official language of government and church in the Byzantine Empire and in the Church. The common man spoke a kind of vernacular that descended from Koine Greek. In the Middle Ages many other peoples settled in Greece and the spoken language changed drastically while the written language remained the same and thus the two languages grew further and further apart.

After the Liberation War in the early 19th century, the government tried to introduce a new language, Katharevousa or "purified language". The government and schools did indeed use this language, but the people continued to use the Dimotiki, the spoken language of the Greek people. The intention was that the Dimotiki would disappear, but that turned out to be more difficult than expected and therefore failed. From 1920 the Dimotiki was allowed to be used in schools and in 1974 the Katharevousa disappeared from those same schools.

The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters that look complicated at first glance, but on closer inspection are simpler than the Dutch alphabet. The pronunciation rules are regular and therefore easier to understand. In Greek it is important to use the correct emphasis. A word with the stress on the first syllable can have completely different meanings from the same word but with the stress on, for example, the third syllable.

The alphabets of all major European languages are based more or less on the ancient Greek alphabet. Our Roman alphabet is sometimes referred to as the western form of the Greek alphabet.

Some words and phrases:

In the Middle Ages and until the 19th century, Alonissos was known under the names Liadromia and Chiliodromia. In 1838, when it was incorrectly identified as the Alonisson of Antiquity. In reality, Alonissos was known to the ancient Greeks as Ikos.

Religion

Churches on Alonissos

Alonissos has relatively fewer churches than other Greek islands because most churches were once built in the ancient capital of Hora and were destroyed by the earthquake of 1965.

Christ Church
Small church in the old capital and one of the few churches to survive the earthquake. The architecture of the church suspects strong Western influences. The church, originally from the 12th century, is home to a number of 17th century icons.

Agios Athanasios
Also survived the earthquake of 1965 and was built at the same time as the Christ Church. The Agios Athanasios is home to a beautiful 18th century icon.

Agios Giorgios
This church is located higher up in the old capital and has been well preserved despite the earthquake. Agios Giorgios has some beautiful 18th century icons and two beautiful 17th-18th century icons.

Agios Dimitrios
This church was completely destroyed during the earthquake. Fortunately, icons were saved and undermined at the church of Agios Athanasios.

Agios Nikolas
This modern church was built on top of the church of Agios Nikolaos, which was too dilapidated to leave it standing. The church was built in 1964 by the people of Alonissos.

Monastery on Kyra Panagia
The Monastery of Kyra Panagia, dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary, takes its name from the eponymous desert-like Island of Kyra Panagia, also called Pelagonisi or Pelagos, is located northeast of Alonissos. It is a 16th century post-Byzantine monastery, located on top of a hill overlooking the sea on the east side of Alonissos. The buildings of the monastery are set around the picturesque church of Panagia. Early Christian remains from the 6th and 7th centuries AD were discovered in the courtyard.

Greek Mythology

The word myth is derived from the word "muthos", which first meant expression and was later often interpreted as "a spoken or written story".
Mythology (muthologia) is thus "telling stories", or a collection of myths, or the study of myths.
When writing originated in Greece, myths and legends were already anchored in oral traditions and later poets in particular gave the stories a different course. Greek mythology is very similar to other mythologies. For example, the Norse god Odin corresponds to the Greek Zeus and the Norse heroes often performed the same heroic deeds as their Greek colleagues.

Some Greek gods

Aeolus (Aiolos)
A son of Hippotes, who was appointed by Zeus as guardian of the winds. He was in charge of the (wind) gods: Boreas, Zephyros, Notos and Euros.

AphroditePhoto: George E. Koronaios in the public domain

Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty. She was born from the foam of the sea, which is also home to the main shrine dedicated to Aphrodite. She was married to Hephaestus, but preferred Ares for a lover.
Her son was Eros, the god of love. Aphrodite is depicted with the winged Eros and with doves. She was one of the Olympian gods. The Romans called her Venus.

Apollo
Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto, and twin brother of Artemis. He is god of light, of medicine, music and science. Apollo is often depicted with a lyre in his hand. The main shrine dedicated to Apollo is located in Delphi, the most important oracle site of ancient Greece. Apollo was an Olympian god.

Ares
Ares was a son of Zeus and Hera and is the god of war. He is often depicted in full armor and was an Olympian god. The Romans take him Mars.

Artemis
Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was the goddess of nature and the hunt. She was also the tutelary goddess of pregnant women and is often depicted with a bow in her hand. She was an Olympian god and her Roman name is Diana.

Dionysos
Dionysos was a son of Zeus and the god of grapes and wine. He is often depicted with a staff that is wrapped at the top with ivy leaves. He was an Olympian god and his Roman name is Bacchus or Liber.

Eros
Eros is the god of needs and is also called Himeros. Eros is often seen as a winged boy god who shoots men in the heart with love arrows. Roman names for him are Amor and Cupid.

Hermes
Hermes was the messenger of the gods and a son of Zeus. He is also god of travelers, thieves and merchants. He becomesalways depicted with a travelers' cap and staff or a helmet with wings. His sandals also have wings. He escorted the ghosts of the dead into the underworld, Hades.

Pallas AthenaPhoto:Ingo Neu Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

Pallas Athena
She is the daughter of Zeus only, because born from his forehead. She is the patron goddess of the artists and craftsmen, but also the goddess of wisdom and knowledge. In wartime Athena was also revered as a war goddess. She was the special guardian goddess of the city Athens and a guardian angel of Greek heroes such as Herakles and Odysseus.
She is often depicted wearing helmet and full armor. The owl, which symbolizes wisdom, was devoted to her. Pallas Athena has a sanctuary located in Athens: the Parthenon.
She was an Olympic god and her Roman name is Minerva.

Poseidon
Poseidon is a helm of Zeus and is the god of the sea and guardian god of the sailors. His palace is deep under water and he is often depicted with a trident, with which he can stir the sea. The horse was dedicated to him.
Because the Greeks believed that the land floated on the sea, they also regarded him as the god who caused the earthquakes. Its Roman name is Jupiter.

Zeus
Zeus was the supreme god of the Greeks and the king of gods and men. He was also the god of the sky and the weather. He is often depicted with a lightning in his hand and is seated on a throne. Many demigods and heroes, such as Hercules and Perseus, have arisen from his love affairs with beautiful women.

Greece ZeusPhoto: Public domain

Society

Administration

Greece administrative regions since 2011Photo : Skgxt in the public domain

Greece was reorganized on January 1, 2011 as part of an overall administrative reform named after Kallikratis, a mid-5th Greek architect. century BC
Since 2011, Greece has been divided into 13 administrative regions, the so-called "periferia". These administrative regions are subdivided into 74 regional units, the 'peripheral iaki enotita'. The regional units, which no longer have their own administration, are in turn subdivided into 325 municipalities or 'demoi'. In addition, Greece has had one autonomous area under its own Greek Orthodox administration since 1926, namely Agion Oros or the monk state of Athos in Chalkidiki (Northern Greece).

Administrative Division

The 13 administrative regions of Greece are Attica (1), Central Greece (2), Central Macedonia (3), Crete (4), East MacedoniaËand Thraci (5), Epirus (6), Ionian Islands (7), North Aegean Islands (8), Peloponnese (9), South Aegean Islands (10), Thessaly (11), Western Greece (12) and Western Macedonia (12);(13).

With the 2011 administrative reorganization, Alonissos became part of the administrative region of Thessali, which further consists of the regional units of Karditsa, Larissa, Magnesia, (Northern) Sporades and Trikala. Alonissos is a municipality that belongs to the Northern Sporades, just like the islands/municipalities of Skiathos and Skopelos.
The municipality of Alonissos also includes the (uninhabited) islands of Adelfi, Adelfopoulo, Gioura, Korakas, Kyra Panagia, Lechousa, Peristera, Piperi, Psathoura, Skantili and Skantzoura. The current political situation of Greece is described in the chapter history.

Thessaly with Northern SporadesPhoto : TUBS Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Economy

Almonds Alonissos Photo:Luigi Chiesa Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

After the Romans left Alonissos, the island went into a downward economic spiral. The only activities were some agriculture and animal husbandry, mainly for the local population. Wine was still exported until the end of World War II, but the production of that wine then suffered greatly from a disease that affected the grapes. Today, Alonissos' economy relies mainly on agriculture (almonds, figs, grapes, olives), fishing and tourism, although it is still one of the most peaceful and least touristic islands of the Sporades. Most economic activities are concentrated in and around the capital Patitiri.

See also the chapter economy of Greece.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Alonissos, an island of the Northern Sporades, has not yet been discovered by mass tourism, although more and more tourists are able to 'find' the still quiet, calm and almost untouched Alonissos. Alonissos has beautiful (sometimes landscaped) beaches, which are surrounded by very clear sea water. The dense pine forests also make Alonissos an attractive destination for a peaceful holiday. The presence of the rare monk seal and the National Marine Park, the largest marine protected area in Europe (2220 km2) make Alonissos a special holiday destination.

Alonissos Chora Photo:CatlemurCC BY-SA 3.0 no changes made

The underwater world at Alonissos is popular with divers. North of the capital Patitiri are a number of well-known beaches with beautiful names: Kokkinokastro, Agios Dimitrios, Chrisi Milia, Milia and Tzortzi Gialos. The old capital of the island, the hilltop Alonissos town or Chora, was completely ruined in 1965 by a severe earthquake, but has since been renovated in its original style. with narrow alleys, shops, cafes, boutiques, restaurants, historic churches and monuments.

The authentic Greek life can still be found on islands such as Gioura, Kyra Panagia and Xiro, located near Alonissos, which can be reached by boat from Alonissos.

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Sources

Browne, J. / An insider's guide to Alonnisos
Travelleur

Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnisos
Thomas Cook

www.landenweb.nl/griekenland

Wikipedia

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated September 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb