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Colonization of Poros island
 

ARVANITES

Colonies here, as in Hydra and Spetses, were established by ancestors of Arvanites, under the pressure of historical events which caused the downfall and their settlement on the Hellenic Peninsula as well as the Peloponnese from 1320 up until the end of the 15th century, their assimilation from Greek principles and, eventually, seeking refuge in the islands of Argolida. The Arvanites initially came to the area of Argonafplia from ancient Illyria.

Nerios Atzayiolis in 1384, Emmanuel Kantakouzinos in 1350 and Theodore Paleologos in 1405 brought these people to the Peloponnese in order to increase the population there after the destruction caused by invasions.

Due to the fact that the Arvanites fought against the Turks, they were chased with rage by them. Especially Mohammed the conqueror, after his victory in the Peloponnese in 1459 and 1460, gave orders to kill them. So, because the Arvanites who resided around Nafplio were being fiercely chased by the Turks, they were forced to move to the utmost distant coasts of Argolida and occupy the neighboring islands- Poros, Hydra and Spetses.

A group of these Arvanites found shelter in Sferia and built their first homes in Kasteli, around the landmark of the historical clock. They preferred this area because they perceived it as a fortress and supposedly protected them from Algerian pirates, who during this era, invaded, robbed and literally plagued all of Greece.

The second colony on the island is established in 1715, once again by Arvanites, who faced the wrath of the Turks because they collaberated with the Venetians.

This settlement completed the residential view of Poros. Over the years, Arvanites and Greeks created a new society free from hatred and tension, sharing the same national ideology as well as the orthodox religion.

Later on, when there were more inhabitants, and the dangers caused by pirates diminished, the settlements of Brinia, Pounta and Mylos were built a little further from the coast. The beach became a residential area for the first time in 1800 from Pounta up to the Progymnasium.

Today's indigenous residents of Poros are descendants of this group of Arvanites who came and settled first in Sferia. However this should not disappoint today's natives because the ancient Illyrians, otherwise known as today’s Arvanites, have a common background with Greeks and, essentially, are of the same origin.

Besides Illyrians were the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and Olympiada, the mother of Alexander the Great. Also, Admiral Kountouriotis, most naval fighters in 1821, from Hydra and Spetses, including the Souliotes of Marko Botsari and Kitso Tzavella were descendants of Arvanites as well.

But many names of places where the residents of Sferia and especially Kalavria have settled come from Arvanite origin. Near Mylos is a place called "Cro" which means water source in the Arvanite language.

Words like Brinia and Pounta have an Arvanite descent. The same stands for certain surnames that one comes across today in Poros. Names such as Priftis (priest), Kolias (Nicholas), Gikas (harmless), Gionis (world), Ginis (silver), Laskos (Lascaris), and those that are pure Greek but from Arvanite descent, like Triantafyllou, Economou, Papaioannou, Moraitis, Maniatis, Sotiriou, Koryzis, Vetas, Tsamis, Agalou, Logothetis, Antoniou, Anastasiou.

In Kalavria, Arvanite names of places  have remained and are as follows: Cape "Achedo" said Bisti (tail), Skarpeza (place with dry wood), Cro (water source), Kontita (watering animals), Modi (louse), also Tselevinia was named this way because the cape is guarded by Arvanites with their boats and whenever Turkish vessels were in sight, they would notify the others who were ready to attack by shouting "tselyeh" (beware), "venyeh" (their coming), tselyeh-venyeh which eventually became today's Tselevinia.

CRETANS

During the Cretan Revolution (1866-1869), families of Cretan fighters fled to Poros in search of , hospitality and medical care. It was a difficult historical circumstance, where thousands of heroic Cretan warriors and civilians (women, children, elders, clergymen and monks) got killed and the rest of the residents of Crete suffered the consequences. In this framework, many islanders were forced by horrible circumstances to migrate and seek refuge in various Aegean islands.

Thus, more than 500 Cretans fled to Poros, unable to withstand the fury, the rage, the humiliation, the daily persecution and disgrace on the part of the Turks.

The residents of Poros responded cordially. Trizina’s Mayor, John Drosinos, tended to unite the residents in a campaign of love for fellow refugees. He, as a doctor, was once the Chairman of the local " Cretan Refugee Relief Committee " and worked vigorously to recover their health, since many of them suffered physically and mentally because of their suffering, deprivation, mental anguish, longing for their families and being very concerned about the future.

Medical care, financial aid, food and hospitality were offered. Even a substantial amount of money was gathered and sent out to the “Cretan General Commission” in Athens.

The love and compassion throughout the island for the refugees and especially Mayor Drosinos’ behavior provoked feelings of gratitude to the unfortunate Cretans, exemplified by writings of the time, signed by them.

Most of the refugees came from Rethymno, an area which suffered immensely throughout the Cretan Revolution.

From historical documents of that time, we can identify the names of Cretan families who fled to the island of Poros and till today have been residing there. Surnames such as Perasakis, Palierakis, Alexandrakis, Yannakoudakis, Stagakis, Aretakis, Klados, Kourmoulakis, Spithouris, Faroudakis, Kanellakis and many others.

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