The Greek Islands Gyaros HOME

The island of Gyaros or Giaros in Greece

Gyaros or Giaros is an uninhabited Greek island that lies in the northern Cyclades, north of Syros and west of the islands of Tinos and Andros. The island is 23 km2 and in the period between 1948 and 1974 it was used to house prisoners (mainly left political activists). Altogether about 22,000 people were in prison on the island Gyaros. Also during the period of Roman rule were exiled to this remote and barren island. At that time there was a city on the island. From written stories from that time we learn that once there was a plague of mice on the island that was so bad that people had to flee.

On the island of Gyaros there is a large building made of red bricks. This is the old prison where 10,000 people could be locked up. Different kinds of people were imprisoned here, like for example between 1967 and 1974 the opponents of the Greek military junta. The building is not maintained and gradually it is falling apart. In the fields between the buildings there were also tents where the prisoners camped throughout the year (also in the winter). Once a year a number of ex-prisoners return to the island to the cemetery to hold a ceremony commemorating the deceased.

Until 2000 the island was Gyaros inaccessible because it was used as a target for the Greek Navy. After 2000 the island was opened to the public, but of course it didn't get reallu busy. The island is really only accessible for people who have their own boat. There are some beaches on the island Gyaros but there are understandably no facilities or accommodations.

Large-scale excavations have never been made on the island Gyaros. Narrow terraces for farming made by people in the east of the island of suggests that Gyaros probably been inhabited since prehistoric times. Also during the Roman period there were people living on the island.

Hans Huisman, 2014
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