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View of a landscape near Vourkari
View of a landscape near Vourkari
Coordinates: 37°37′23″N 24°20′21″E / 37.6231°N 24.3393°E / 37.6231; 24.3393Coordinates: 37°37′23″N 24°20′21″E / 37.6231°N 24.3393°E / 37.6231; 24.3393
Island Chain: Cyclades
Area: 128.926 km² (50 sq.mi.)
Greece Greece
Periphery: South Aegean
Prefecture: Cyclades
Capital: Ioulis
Population: 2,417 (as of 2001)
Density: 19 /km² (49 /sq.mi.)
Postal Code: 840 02
Area Code: 22880
License Code: ΕΜ

Kea (Greek: Κέα), also known as Gia or Tzia (Greek: Τζια), Zea, and, in Antiquity, Keos (Greek: Κέως, Latin: Ceos), is an island of the Cyclades archipelago, in the Aegean Sea, in Greece. Its capital, Ioulis, is inland at a high altitude (like most ancient Cycladic settlements, for the fear of pirates) and is considered quite picturesque. Other major villages of Kea are Korissia (the port) and Vourkari (a fishing village). After suffering depopulation for many decades, Kea has been recently rediscovered by Athens as a convenient destination for weekends and yachting trips. The population in 2001 was 2,417.



It is the island of the Cyclades complex that is closest to Attica (about 1 hour by ferry from Lavrio) and is also 20 km from Cape Sounio as well as 60 km SE of Athens. Its climate is arid and its terrain is hilly. Kea is 19 km long from north to south and 9 km wide from west to east. The area is 129 km² with the highest point being 560m.

The municipality includes the island of Makronisos to the northwest as well as a couple of ferry and shipping lines.


Kea is the location of a Bronze Age settlement at the site now called Ayia Irini, which reached its height in the Late Minoan and Early Mycenaean eras (1600-1400 BCE).

In the classical period Kea (Ceos) was the home of Simonides and of his nephew Bacchylides, both ancient Greek lyric poets, and the Sophist Prodicus, and the physician Erasistratus. The inhabitants were known for offering sacrifices to the Dog Star Sirius and Zeus to bring cooling breezes while awaiting for the reappearance of Sirius in summer; if the star rose clear, it would portend good fortune; if it was misty or faint then it foretold (or emanated) pestilence. Coins retrieved from the island from the 3rd century BC feature dogs or stars with emanating rays, highlighting Sirius' importance.[1]

During the Byzantine period many churches were built and the prosperity of the island rose. Kea was Byzantine until, in 1204, it was captured by the Venetians in the wake of the fourth crusade. It was recaptured by the Byzantines in 1278. In 1296 it fell to the Venetians again, who soon built a castle on the ancient acropolis of Ioulis. The port became a haven for pirates and by 1470 there were only around 200 inhabitants on the island.

Kea was occupied by the Turks in 1527. The Turks never settled on the island but they did repopulate it with Arvanites at the end of the 16th century. During this period the island attracted many of the religious and intellectual personalities who wanted to lie low.

Historical population

Year Communal population Change Island population Change
1981 - - - -
1991 - - 1,797 -
2001 - - 2,417 +620/+34.50%


  • Chavouna
  • Ellinika Kea
  • Kato Meria
  • Ioulis
  • Kea
  • Korissia
  • Koundouros, Greece
  • Otzias
  • Pisses
  • Vourkari

Notable people

  • Aristo (3rd century BC) Peripatetic philosopher
  • Prodicus (5th century BC) sophist

See also


  1. ^ Holberg, JB (2007). Sirius:Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky. Chichester, UK: Praxis Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 0-387-48941-X.  

External links

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