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Psara (Greek: Ψαρά, Psará, Greek pronunciation: [psaˈra]; formerly known as Ψύρα, Psyra, or Ψυρίη, Psyriī) is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. Together with the small island of Antipsara (Pop 4) it forms the municipality of Psara. It is part of the Chios regional unit, which is part of the North Aegean region. The only town of the island and seat of the municipality is also called Psara.[2]


Psara, Agios Nikolaos monastery
Psara, Agios Nikolaos monastery
Flag of Psara.svg
Psara is located in Greece
Location within the region
2011 Dimos Psaron.png
Coordinates: 38°33′N 25°34′E / 38.550°N 25.567°E / 38.550; 25.567Coordinates: 38°33′N 25°34′E / 38.550°N 25.567°E / 38.550; 25.567
Administrative regionNorth Aegean
Regional unitChios
 • Municipality44.511 km2 (17.186 sq mi)
Highest elevation
512 m (1,680 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 • Municipality
 • Municipality density10/km2 (27/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
82x xx
Area code(s)22740
Vehicle registrationΧΙ

Psara had 448 inhabitants according to the 2011 census. It has a small port linking to the island of Chios and other parts of Greece.



Psara lies 44 nautical miles (81 km) northwest of Chios, 22 km (14 miles) from the northwestern point of the island of Chios and 150 km (93 mi) eastnortheast of Athens. The length and width are about 7 by 8 km (4 by 5 mi) and the area of the island is 43 square kilometres (17 sq mi). The highest point of the island is "Profitis Ilias" (512 metres (1,680 feet)). The municipality has an area of 44.511 km2.[3]


The flag of Psara was designed by the Psariots[4] and bears symbols of Filiki Eteria.[5][6] It is made of white cloth bordered with red with a large red cross and the inscriptions of the name of the island "ΨΑ-ΡΑ" and the words Eleftheria i Thanatos (Liberty or Death) in capital red letters. The cross is standing on an upside down crescent, flanked on one side by a sword, on the other by a serpent killed by a bird.[4][6] The flag was carried during the War of Independence by Psariot ships[7]

An original flag of Psara, is preserved at the National Historical Museum of Greece[5]


It has been inhabited since the Mycenaean period, its inhabitants relying on the sea to make a living as the island is treeless and rocky with little shrubbery. Homer first referred to the island as Psyra (Ψυρά).[8][9] Anciently, it contained a small town also called Psyra.[10][11]
The islanders' sole source of livelihood has always been fishing, mainly for the locally abundant slipper lobsters, and shipping, with some tourist development in recent years.

Destruction of PsaraEdit

After the destruction of Psara by Nikolaos Gyzis.

Psara joined the Greek War of Independence on April 10, 1821. A noted native naval leader of the time was future Prime Minister of Greece Constantine Kanaris and Dimitrios Papanikolis. The island was invaded on June 21, 1824 by the Ottoman navy.

On July 4 the resistance of the Psariots ended with a last stand at the town's old fort of Palaiokastro (alternative name Mavri Rachi, literally "black ridge").[4] Hundreds of soldiers and also women and children had taken refuge there when a Turkish force of 2000 stormed the fort. The refugees first threw a white flag[12] with the words "Ἐλευθερία ἤ Θάνατος" ("Eleftheria i Thanatos", "Freedom or Death"). Then, the moment the Turks entered the fort, the local Antonios Vratsanos lit a fuse to the gunpowder stock, in an explosion that killed the town's inhabitants along with their enemies — thus remaining faithful to their flag to their death.[4] A French officer who heard and saw the explosion compared it to a volcanic eruption of Vesuvius.[4]

A part of the population managed to flee the island, but those who did not were either sold into slavery or killed. As a result of the invasion, thousands of Greeks have met a tragic fate. The island was deserted and surviving islanders were scattered through what is now Southern Greece. Theophilos Kairis, a priest and scholar, took on many of the orphaned children and developed the famous school the Orphanotropheio of Theophilos Kairis. Psara remained in the hands of the Ottomans until it was recaptured by the Greek navy on 21 October 1912 during the First Balkan War.

The destruction of Psara by the Ottoman Turks was conducted in retaliation for blowing up the ship of a Turkish Admiral by the revolutionary Dimitrios Papanikolis (who was from Psara). It inspired the poet Andreas Kalvos to write the ode "To Psara" (Greek: "Εἰς Ψαρά"); perhaps more famously, the event also inspired the poet Dionysios Solomos — the author of the Hymn to Liberty — to write in 1825 a poem (or epigram) about it called "The Destruction of Psara" (Greek: "Ἡ καταστροφὴ τῶν Ψαρῶν"):[13][14]

Bronze medal of 1924 commemorating the holocaust of Psara.ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ Η' ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ,ΟΛΟΚΑΥΤΩΜΑ ΨΑΡΡΩΝ - 24 ΙΟΥΝΙΟΥ 1824 (FREEDOM OR DEATH,HOLOCAUST OF PSARA - 24 JUNE 1824).

'Στῶν Ψαρῶν τὴν ὁλόμαυρη ράχη
Περπατῶντας ἡ Δόξα μονάχη.
Μελετᾷ τὰ λαμπρὰ παλληκάρια,
Καὶ 'ς τὴν κόμη στεφάνι φορεῖ
Γινομένο ἀπὸ λίγα χορτάρια
Ποῦ εἰχαν μείνῃ 'ς τὴν ἔρημη γῆ.

On the all-black ridge of Psara
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.

Historical populationEdit

Year Population Difference
1824 7,000[15]
1951 700
1961 576 - 17,71%
1971 487 - 15,45%
1981 460 - 5,54%
1991 438 - 4,78%
2001 422 - 3,65%
2011 446 + 5,69%

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.
  2. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (in Greek)
  3. ^ "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece.
  4. ^ a b c d e CONGRESSIONAL RECORD—HOUSE March 24, 1995[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b Flag of Psara, Revolution of 1821 -National History Museum Catalogue Number: 1752 Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b Nations and States in Southeast Europe Archived 2010-05-09 at the Wayback Machine,Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in South Eastern Europe. p.99
  7. ^ "Η Ελληνική Σημάια", (The Greek flag) - Hellenic Army General Staff, Page 11, Image 14:[1]
  8. ^ Homer, Odyssey, III
  9. ^ Agelarakis A., "Report on the Main Burial of the Mycenaean Human Skeletal Remains excavated from Archontiki Site, Psara, Greece", OSSA 13 (1986-87): 3-11.
  10. ^ Strabo. Geographica. xiv. p.645. Page numbers refer to those of Isaac Casaubon's edition.
  11. ^ Pliny. Naturalis Historia. 5.36.
  12. ^ Typos, Cyprus newspaper
  13. ^ Jerome Rothenberg, Jeffrey Robinson (2009). Poems for the Millennium, Volume Three. University of California Press. p. 358. ISBN 978-0-520-25598-2.
  14. ^ Solomos, Dionysios (1901). Ἄπαντα τὰ εὑρισκόμενα (in Greek). Kostis Palamas (prologue). Athens: P.D.Sakellarios. p. 99. At the Anemi digital library.
  15. ^ Finlay, George. History of the Greek Revolution and the Reign of King Otho (edited by H.F. Tozer). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1877 (Reprint: London 1971), ISBN 978-0-900834-12-7, p. 152.

External linksEdit