+ Cycladia Travel Guides | History



The story behind the name
The island of Sifnos, rich in raw materials owes its name to two origins. The practical justification states that its name comes from the Greek word ‘sifnos’ meaning empty, deriving from the ancient mining tunnels said to be located below its surface. The other story, and most common one, has Sifnos deriving its name from Sifnos, the son of the legendary Attic hero Sounion.
Prehistorically speaking…
Sifnos has signs of inhabitation dated from the Neolithic age. A very wealthy island in ancient times, due to the abundance of gold and silver, Sifnos was dominated by several foreign civilizations before the 18th century. In 1100BC the island was colonized by the Ionians who transferred its capital to present-day Kastro. The island then went under the cultural and commercial domination of the Minoan Cretes in 1400BC who then took complete control after the explosion of Santorini’s volcano which destroyed the main Minoan civilizations in 1600BC. Thereafter the island participated in many important battles with the entry of the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Russians and finally the Italians during WWII.
Foreign Reign
While little is known Sifnos during its foreign reign, each era played leading roles in the island’s histroy. The Romans assisted in the cultural foundation with their creation of the Greek school, Agios Tafos. The Byzantine rule led by Giannoulis da Corogna declared the islands independence from the Duke of Naxos after 60 years. The most difficult period Sifno experienced was during the Turkish domination in the late 1500s where the island saw its population and economic status dramatically alter. The islands inhabitants persistently fought the Turks during the Greek revolution and declared independence two centuries later.
Modern history
With Sifnos independence from the Turks, and for a while from any other foreign reign, the island was reborn. In 1833 Sifnos whose capital was then Kastro, was divided into two municipalities; Apollonia and Artemonas. And in 1836 the island experienced an increase in population when its inhabitants returned home and Apollonia was became the capital

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