This is the youngest volcano in Greece, only 160,000 years old, and remains still active. In fact, Santorini, Nisyros, Milos and Methana are the four active volcanoes of Greece.
Mandraki and Nikia are most picturesque villages on the island, with traditional architecture and relaxing atmosphere. Nikia offers great view to the volcano, while Mandraki is the centre of activities on the island. Above Mandraki, there is a Medieval Fortress and the Monastery of Panagia Spiliani. The beaches are peaceful and clean. Only few of the beaches are organized, while the majority is secluded.
Known as Poryphyris in the ancient times, the history of Nisyros is connected to the numerous volcanic eruptions that have occurred on the island. Greek mythology states that Nisyros was once a part of the island Kos, but during the fight of the Titans, Poseidon plucked a part of Kos and threw it at Polyvotis, wanting to kill him with it. This part of Kos, which crushed Polyvotis became Nisyros, and it is believed that when this half dead giant shakes and groans, the volcano erupts. But in reality, the first inhabitants of Nisyros were the Kares, who were followed by the Achaeans of Kos and then by the Rhodians, a fact established by the recovery many relics found on the island, which have been left by people from Thessaly, Kos and Rhodes.
Homer, mentions the Nisyrians amongst the Greeks who fought in Troy. Nisyros was also included in taxation records of Athenian alliance. Poseidon of Pelasgui and Apollo of Delphi were the main gods which were worshiped by the locals. Temples with dedicatory columns indicate the Zeus was another prominent god and so was Hermes.
Nisyros was very prosperous during the 5th and the 4th centuries B.C. and during the Median Wars, Nisyros paid tribute to the Queen of Halicarnassus, Artemisia. After this period, Nisyros joined with the Athenians, but only briefly. Nisyros was independent till 200 B.C. after which they came under the jurisdiction of Rhodes. Later in 1315 A.D., Nisyros was fortified by the Knights of Saint John and they constructed five forts in strategic locations on the island.
This was followed by a massive volcanic eruption that led to the creation of the large crater in the middle of the island, in 1422. This period was followed by a number of raids by the Turks, till 1523, when they eventually gained control over Nisyros. Later in 1821, the locals supported the Greek Revolution. However, Nisyros did not become a part of the newly independent Greece at this time. This period was followed by an immigration wave in the late 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1912, Nisyros was handed to Italy and remained under their rule till 1948, when it was attached to Greece.
Museums - Archeological
Nisyros is known for its rich culture and visitors can acquaint themselves with this culture by visiting some of the museums on the island. Containing a vast variety of artifacts and items, the museums are well maintained and are easily accessible.
The Folklore Museum of Nisyros consists of an interesting collection of photographs, traditional costumes, books, icons and fishing tools, apart form many other items. Located in a two storey building, 18th century building in Mandraki, the museum is on the road which leads to the Panagia Spiliani monastery.
Very interesting is also the Volcanological Museum of Nisyros that opened opened in June 2008. It is housed in a small building in Nikia, the closest village to the volcano. It presents photos and information about the volcano of Nisyros and other actove volcanoes around the world.
Pali Beach, Lies Beach, Katsouni
Religious Monasteries and Churches
Nisyros is strongly influenced by the Byzantine era with the foundations of many churches and monasteries. Today most of them remain active but uninhabited. Instead many festivals take place to celebrate the saints or due to special occasions.
The most important church in Nisyros is the monastery of Panagia Spiliani (Virgin Mary of the Cave) located in Mandraki, the capital of Nisyros. The monastery is built at the highest point of the island, surrounded by the medieval castle walls, although most of it lies inside a cave.
Some kilometres southeast of Emporios village, in a beautiful region, out in the middle of nowhere stands the monastery of Panagia Kyra (Our Holy Lady), one of the most beautiful monasteries of the Aegean. There is a great festival on 23rd of August. In the village of Nikia you will see the monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos. Other monasteries in Nisyros are those of Evangelistria and Stavros (Holy Cross).