Cyclades Islands Attractions Kykládes
The name of Cyclades was given in antiquity to the circle (kyklos) of islands, mostly inhabited by Ionians, enclosing the sacred island of Delos.
According to the ancient legend, Poseidon struck the mountains with his trident and drove them into the sea, where they took root. The archipelago, consisting of 23 larger and some 200 smaller islands, rises out of a submarine plateau which extends southeastward and eastward in an arc from Attica and Euboea to the coast of Asia Minor. All the islands are hilly; those in the north consist predominantly of Cretaceous limestones, micaceous schists, gneiss and marble, while the islands to the south consist partly of eruptive rocks. Except on Náxos there are no rivers with a perennial flow and trees are lacking because of the sharp sea winds which blow throughout the year. Characteristic of the islands are their whitewashed cube-shaped houses and their thatch-roofed windmills with their light-colored sails.The original inhabitants of the islands are believed to have been Carians belonging to the Cycladic culture of the early Bronze Age (2400-1200 B.C.). The "Cycladic idols" (usually female figures carved from stone) typical of that culture have been found on all the islands. In the late second millennium B.C. the indigenous inhabitants were displaced by Ionians on the northern islands and Dorians on the southern islands. Most of the Cycladic islands joined the first, and later the second, Attic maritime league. In the second half of the first millennium B.C. the islands were partly under Macedonian and partly under Ptolemaic rule. They were later occupied by Rome, and when the Roman Empire was divided in A.D. 395 they fell to the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire. During the Middle Ages there were centuries of Venetian and Frankish rule, with a flowering of art and intellectual life. Even after occupation by the Turks in 1579 the islands largely preserved their religious (predominantly Catholic) and cultural identity. They were united with Greece in 1834.The Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens is devoted to the very individual Cycladic culture of the fourth and third millennia B.C.
Map of Cyclades Islands Attractions