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The history of the island begins in the ancient times and some of its names were Kirki, Aigli and Metapontis. The island got its current time from the nymph Symi, who according to mythology married the God of the seas Poseidon and brought to life Hthonios who became the leader of the island's inhabitants. Homer mentions Symi in the Heliade, for its participation in the Trojan war, headed by the Symiot King Nireas. Later in history, Symi was conquered in 1309 by the knights of St. John. This is when a period of prosperity begins for the island with the development of shipping, sponge commerce, boat building and other crafts. In 1832 Symi was found under the Turkish dominion which in 1912 was succeeded by the Italian dominion. Symi confronted poverty - at that time the replacement of sailing with motor ships also occurred, sponge diving decreased and world war II begun resulting in a grate migration wave of Symiots abroad. From 1943 when the Italian dominion ceased and onwards, Symi changed hands several times between the English and the Germans, with the English taking over the island for the third time in 1944. On May 8th 1945, the Germans signed the treaty of the Dodecanese surrender, while on April 1st 1947, the British military command handed over its rights to a Greek one. At last, it was on Symi that on March 8th 1948 the Protocol of integration of all Dodecanese islands to the Greek state was signed.
This text is cited May 2005 from the Municipality of Symi URL below, which contains images
The history of the island begins in ancient and mythological times.
Its ancient names were Aigli, Metapontis and Cariki. It is postulated that its
first inhabitants were the Carians and the Leleges.
Symi is mentioned in The Iliad: King Nireus took part in the Trojan war with three ships. Herodotus refers to it as being a member of the Dorian Hexapolis (6 cities). From 480 B.C. the island belonged to the Athenian League.
In the Roman and Byzantine epochs Symi’s fortune was closely linked to that of Rhodes. From 1309 the island entered upon a prosperous period with the development of shipping, commerce, the sponge trade, boat building and other crafts. This period also saw the beginning of the increase in urban growth the beauty of which remains intact to this day. The houses began to spread out from the same time people started to abandon many of their traditional settlements. The majority of the churches were also built during this time.
Turkish attacks were repulsed in 1457 and 1485. In 1522, realizing that further resistance wa in vain, and attempting to preserve as much as they could; the people offered gifts to the sultan and gained the grant, of many special privileges. Thus they achieved freedom of religious expression and the use of their own language with the resulting advances in education and crafts. In addition to these privileges, they won sponge-fishing rights throughout all the seas of the Ottoman Empire.
They supported the national war of independence and contributed funds to the Greek fleet over a number of years; not to mention financial assistance to Laskarina Bouboulina, Admiral Miaoulis, Themelis and others.
In 1832 Symi unwillingly returned to Turkish control, and people reacted most strongly to this. In 1869 there was an attempt to abrogate the special privileges. In 1875 and 1885 there were population censuses: in 1908 Symi won her second battle to preserve her privileges, resulting in victory for the other islands as well.
In 1912 Turkish dominion gave way to Italian control, which lasted until September 17th, 1943. From that date the island changed hands several times between the British and the Germans, the British taking Symi for the third time on September 25th, 1944, on which day the castle and the surrounding quarter of town were blown up. On May 8th, 1945 the German surrender of the Dodecanese was signed on Symi. On April 1st, 1947 a British Military Administration handed over to a Greek one, and on March 7th, 1948 the Dodecanese were incorporated into the Greek state.
This text (extract) is cited November 2003 from the Municipality of Symi tourist pamphlet.
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