English Section Greek Section Company Profile Our Philosophy Testimonials Contact Info Email Us Employment Homepage
Gift Registries Greece Guides Cultural Sites
Greek Islands
Greek Destinations
Search Destinations
Find Hotel
Outgoing packages
Dodecanese Islands | Kastelorizo

Kastelorizo History

Kastelorizo is sure to have been inhabited already in the Neolithic Era, as the remains of Cyclopean walls attest, evidence of the settlement of Pelasgoi. It flourished during the Mycenean Era. Whoever the descendants of those people were, they were subordinated to or chased away by the Dorian Greeks, who were the first ones to set up a colony here in historical times. They named the island "Megiste" (=the biggest one [of the islands in the small archipelago]).

During the Persian Wars, Kastelorizo contributed to the Greek victory taking part on the Athenian side.

Lycian Tomb in Megisti, Kastelorizo

The Romans took control of it in 79 BC.

In the following millenia Kastellorizo followed the history of the other Dodecanese islands; because of its strategic position, it was in the center of attention to many prospective rulers:

During the Hellenistic period Megiste was ruled by the almighty Rhodians as part of its mainland Minor Asia possessions of historical Caria (between 167 BC until the 2nd century AD). There are inscriptions at the Knights' Castle confirming it.

In the Byzantine Era the Eastern Aegean Sea formed the Eparchy of the Islands, in which Rhodes was the capital and contained another 18 major islands (the northernmost one was Tenedos); Kastelorizo was part of it.

In 1306 the island was conquered by the Nights of St. John, three years before they could take Rhodes. They had the Byzantine castle rebuilt to use it as a prison.

In 1440 Kastelorizo was occupied by Egyptian Sultan Djemal-el-Din and the castle was destroyed. Its people were enslaved and taken away to be sold as slaves in the slave markets of the east.

In 1450 the island was taken over by Alfonso V de Aragon, king of Naples, and the castle was rebuilt.

In the two hundred years to follow the island will be under the rulership of the Ottomans and the Franks, their dominance exchanging every now and then; this rally eventually ended with the Ottomans as winners.

Ancient Greek Lycian tomb in Caunos, Turkey
The similarity of the Lycian tomb found on Kastelorizo to these tombs is so obvious, we though to include this phot for comparison reasons
Between 1821 and 1828 Kastelorizo joined the Greek insurgents, but after the end of the Greek War of Independence it came back in possession of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1912, during the Libyan war between Italy and the Ottoman Empire, the inhabitants asked General Ameglio, chief of the Italian occupation forces in Rhodes, for their island to be annexed to Italy. The islanders had their proposal turned down, and on 14 March 1913 the local population imprisoned the Turkish governor and his Ottoman garrison and proclaimed a provisional government. In August of 1913, the Greek government sent from Samos a provisional governor supported by gendarmes. But they, too, were expelled by the inhabitants on 20 October 1915. On 28 December 1915, the French navy occupied on the island at the behest of a pro-French local party which feared Turkish reprisals and secured the island's joining the Antente nations' effort. Turkish shore batteries responded to the French occupation by shelling the island. Due to the Treaty of Sèvres the island was ultimately assigned to Italy: the Italian navy assumed it from the French on 1 March 1921. Kastelorizo - under the Italian name Castelrosso, was then integrated in the possession of the Isole Italiane dell'Egeo.

The 1932 Convention between Italy and Turkey, which defined the sea border between the two powers, assigned all the islets of the small archipelago around Kastelorizo except Rho and Strongili to Turkey. During the 1930s it was a stopover for French and British seaplanes. During the Second World War, on 25 February 1941, in the course of Operation Abstention, British Commandos occupied the island, but Italian forces from Rhodes recaptured it some days later. When Italy capitulated to the Allies (8 September 1943), the island was occupied again by Allied forces, and it remained under their occupation for the rest of the war. In July 1944, a fuel dump caught fire and spread to an adjacent ammunition dump, thereby destroying half of the homes on the island.

Kastelorizo was assigned to Greece with the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947. In May 1945 it was still under British administration, but on September 15, 1947 effectively came under Greek administration. The island formally joined the Greek State on 7 March 1948 together with the other Dodecanese islands.