Astypalaia is the westernmost island of the Dodecanese.
The ancients called it the "Bank of the Gods" because of the abundance of flowers and fruits. The ancient authors also speak of the temperate climate of the island, the abundance of game and its marine wealth. It is surrounded by many islets, while it itself consists of two rocky masses joined by an isthmus. The main settlement and capital, Chora, has been built on the site of an ancient city, dominated by the Astypalaia castle renovated by Giovanni VI Quirini.
As in almost all of the Dodecanese, the oldest inhabitants were the Kares who called it Pyrrha, from the reddish color of its soil. They were followed by the Minoans, the Mycenaeans and finally the Dorians from Megara or Epidaurus. During the Hellenistic period, it reached a great height and the Romans allied with the island in order to use it as a base to deal with the pirates of the Aegean. Astypalaia came in 1207 to the Venetian house of Quirini. In 1537 the admiral of the Sultan Haireddin Barbarossas takes control of the island which has since been counted among the twelve privileged islands of the archipelago.
Astypalaia, due to its strategic position, was the first island to be occupied by the Italians. After the Italian occupation in 1948 it was integrated into Greece.
Editor: Fotini Anastasopoulou