Astypalaia (pronounced as ‘asti–pa–le-a’), was the sister of Europa, and had two sons with Poseidon, the God of the Sea: Ankaio, King of Samos and Eurypylus, King of Kos and one of the Argonauts. The island was first inhabited in the 2nd millennium BC by Kares, who called it Pyrra (fire), because the soil was red. At a later stage, the Cretans and Minoans also settled in the island. In the classical era, there were many temples on the island and it appears to have been a prosperous island – as there are many offerings to the Goddess Athena. The ancient Greeks called the island, the “Table of Gods” because it was covered with fruits and flowers.
The Romans invaded Astypalaia in the 2nd century BC, but instead of using the island as a place for exiles, as in the case of many other islands, took advantage of its strategic position and made a port for their ships whilst building at a high altitude far from the sea. This protected the island from pirates, and during the Byzantine era, the island retained it’s vigor.
The Venetians conquered the Aegean in the early 13th century AD, and Astypalaia’s defense began to decline. Finally, the Turks conquered the island in the 16th century AD and remained in Astypalaia until its liberation in the 19th century AD. The island was again occupied by the Italians during the Second World War until 1948.