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IKARIA
...The Island of Ikarus
....The first flying man

Ikaria is part of the Prefecture of Samos, together with the island of Samos and the three islands of Fournoi (Fournoi, Thymaina and Agios Minas). It is located in the middle of the Aegean Archipelago, with Samos to the east, Mykonos to the west, Chios to the north and the holy island of Patmos to the south.

Ikaria or Nikaria as the locals call it, is a small mountainous island of approx. 270 km2 in area and 7,500 inhabitants. It has an unbroken coastline of 102 km. without any adequate ports. In ancient times the island was named "Makris" and "Dolichi" because of its oblong shape and "Ictheoessa" because of its abundance of fish. However Greek Mythology connected the island with Ikarus, the first man who attempted to fly but fell into the sea near the island.

The climate of Ikaria is mild, with strong winds from the south in winter and cool winds from the north in summer. The Ikarian Sea is especially tempestuous in July and August during the meltemi season because the island, situated without a protective barrier to the north, has no buffer from these northeasterly gales known as Etesian in antiquity. It was known to Homer (Iliad 2. 145) as one of the most turbulent areas of the Aegean.

The island offers an impressive succession of landscapes of unequalled natural beauty. To the south you find steep and barren rocks, to the north marvellous coasts and inland, calm and peace. Until a few years ago it was only known for its excellent climate and wonder working therapeutic hot mineral springs. Today it is a tourist destination that offers pleasant vacations in a quiet and beautiful natural environment. With its rich greenery and its nice beaches, it attracts a larger current of tourists every year.

Myth of Ikarus

According to Greek mythology Daedalus was a highly respected and talented Athenian artisan descendent from the royal family of Cecrops, the mythical first king of Athens. He was known for his skill as an architect, sculpture, and inventor, and he produced many famous works. Despite his self-confidence, Daedalus once committed a crime of envy against Talus, his nephew and apprentice. Talus, who seemed destined to become as great an artisan as his uncle Daedalus, was inspired one day to invent the saw after having seen the way a snake used its jaws. Daedalus, momentarily stricken with jealousy, threw Talus off of the Acropolis. For this crime, Daedalus was exiled to Crete and placed in the service of King Minos, where he eventually had a son, Ikarus, with the beautiful Naucrate, a mistress-slave of the King. Minos asked Daedalus to build the famous Labyrinth in order to imprison the dreaded Minotaur. The Minotaur was a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. He was the son of Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, and a bull that Poseidon had sent to Minos as a gift. Minos was shamed by the birth of this horrible creature and resolved to imprison the Minotaur in the Labyrinth where it fed on humans, which were taken as "tribute" by Minos and sacrificed to the Minotaur in memory of his fallen son Androgeos.

Theseus, the heroic King of Athens, volunteered himself to be sent to the Minotaur as part of the "human tribute" in the hopes of killing the beast and ending the human sacrifice that his city was forced to pay to Minos. When Theseus arrived to Crete, Ariadne, Minos's daughter fell in love with him and offered to help him survive the Minotaur. Daedalus revealed the mystery of the Labyrinth to Ariadne who in turn advised Theseus, thus enabling him to slay the Minotaur and from the Labyrinth. When Minos found out what Daedalus had done he was so enraged that he imprisoned Daedalus and Ikarus in the Labyrinth themselves. Daedalus conceived to escape from the Labyrinth with Ikarus from Crete by constructing wings and then flying to safety. He built the wings from feathers and wax, and before the two set off he warned Ikarus not to fly too low lest his wings touch the waves and get wet and not too high lest the sun melt the wax. But the young Ikarus, overwhelmed by the thrill of flying, did not heed his father's warning, and flew too close to the sun whereupon the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea. Daedalus escaped to Sicily and Icarus' body was carried ashore by the current to an island then without a name. Hercules came across the body and recognized it, giving it burial where today there still stands a small rock promontory jutting out into the Aegean Sea, and naming the island and the sea around it after the fallen Ikarus.

The Ikarians

The Ikarians are proud, humorous and easy going. They are devoted family people and fierce patriots. The older and younger generations coexist happily, contributing equally to their communities. They find joy in the simple pleasures of eating, conversation, music and dancing. They are generally philosophical about the passage of time and live life without unduly worrying about what tomorrow brings.

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