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History and Mythology


According to mythology, Uranus and Gaia had many children: the Titans, the Giants, the Cyclops and the Ekatocheires. Uranus, fearing that one of his sons would dethrone him, decided to throw them all in Tartarus, the bottom of the earth.

One of his sons, Kalydnos, was really lucky and fell on a piece of land that emerged at this particular moment and formed an island, which was therefore called "The Island of Kalydnos." Today, when we look the island from above, we can clearly see two huge mountains and two small valleys, which are said to resemble Kalydnos' legs.

According to the legend, Kalydnos was originally a god of Hades who later became a god of the sea. However, no evidence of worship have been found to confirm the myth.



Kalymnos has been inhabited since the Neolithic times. Its earliest inhabitants were the Carians and this is proved by ruins with ancient Carian features that have been found in the metropolis of Kastellas, near the current Stimenia. The island was later inhabited by Phoenicians, as it is shown by remains found in Emboreios. In the period 1150 BC - 800 BC, Kalymnos was settled by the Dorians. A considerable evidence of this is the -preserved to these days- name Damos (which means 'Municipality' in the Dorian dialect) as well as the remarkable ruins of both the Sanctuary Delian Apollo and the Temple of Delian Apollo.


Homer calls the island 'Kalydnos' and states that it participated in the Trojan war by sending along (with other islands) 30 ships, with Feidippos and Antifanos as leaders. The name probably derives from the words καλός (kalos=good, nice) and ύδνα (ydna=water). In other words, it is an island with nice, beautiful water. According to Diodorus, four ships of Agamemnon's wrecked off the island during their homecoming after the Trojan war. Their crews (people from the mainland cities Argos and Epidaurus) settled permanently on Kalymnos and built a settlement on the plateau of the island. They decided then to name it Argos in memory of their distant homeland. For a long time, Argos was the capital of the island.

At the end of the Archaic period and at the beginning of Classical period, Kalymnos is an autonomous state. The system of government is characterized as republican, since the decisions are taken both by the House and the Ecclesia of Demos (the Assembly of the City), which is alternatively called Damos. Its autonomy however did not last long, because Kalymnos was conquered by the Persians at the same time when they conquered the Ionian cities of Asia Minor. It was released in 477 BC, it joined then the Athenian Alliance and payed the respective taxes in the fund of the Alliance, which was located in Delos island.

In 357 BC Kalymnos is no longer free, as it surrenders to the power of Mafssollos, the king of Halicarnassus. 15 years later, Kalymnos rebels, acquires its freedom and rejoins the Athenian Alliance. During the Classical era, Kalymnos developed remarkable cultural activity, residues of which (such as the ruins of the temple of Kalydnean Apollo) are preserved until today.

Kalymnos was later occupied by the Romans. During the Byzantine period, Kalymnos, just like all the other Dodecanese islands, was a strong island. It started to lose its power though in the 7th century AD, when it began to attract various conquerors due to its strategic location. The 10th century it was destroyed by the Turks in the 14th century it was occupied by the Venetians Knights of St. John. In 1522 it was conquered by the Turks and  in 1912 it was found under Italian occupation. When the Italians surrendered, the British took the reins until 1947, when Kalymnos finally got released and got incorporated into the newly established Greek state. The official union with Greece took place on March 7, 1948 and it is celebrated as a special date ever since.