(1900 Times Atlas of the World)
1207 Marco Sanudo a Venetian adventurer conquers Milo and nearby Argentiera which becomes part of the Duchy of Nasso
1456 The island is ruled by the Gozzadini, a family from Bologna, similar to Sifno
1617 Argentiera is formally annexed to the Ottoman Empire
We left on our right hand Antemilo, and further off Milo, which is reported to have one of the best Ports in the World, and now a refuge for the Corsairs. Afterwards (..) we passed in sight of Argentera, called by the Greeks Kimolos. They say, it hath a Mine of Silver, and some Inhabitants.
A journey into Greece by George Wheler, Esq., in company of Dr. Spon of Lyons - 1682
The white cliffs of Argentiera
This island formed a surprising contrast to the last:
instead of the fertile valleys, the rich gardens, and
flower-clad hills of Siphnos, we were now on a low-lying
bare island of volcanic formation. (..) The soil is brown and thin, and not a tree is to
be seen. We landed in a little harbour. (..) We walked
on a little way, and everything became red; and then we
went a little further, and everything became white, for
now we were at a quarry of a sort of white porous stone,
easy to cut and much prized for building, for it hardens
with time. (..) One can argue that
once this town was of considerable importance, and we
are told that silver mines once existed in the island, and
in the middle ages it was hence called Argentiere.
James Theodore Bent - The Cyclades - 1885
Argento is the Italian word for silver and the Venetians called this small island Argentiera owing to its silver mines or (according to another explanation) owing to the silvery aspect of its chalk cliffs. Kimolos, its Greek name, is a reference to chalk (in Greek kimolia), which is still mined and supports the local economy.
Argentiero. The Venetian Armada did much frequent this place, it lying so convenient that they might go to Sea with any wind, in case an Enemy should come to attacque them; for they have a custom never to be in any Haven, or Port where they may be penn'd in; unless it be under some of their Castles, or in some of their own Islands. On this Island there is a continual watch (when the Armada is there) which make signs with smoak for every saile which they see; the ships which come from Turky, they will examine them. In the year 1664 (during the War of Candia) I was a passenger aboard the little Hunter, Roger Hutson of Plymouth Master, bound from Smirna to Legorne. We being off of the Island of Argentiero, a Felucca came to informe themselves of News from Turky, we acquainted them of what we knew and departed.
Bernard Randolph, b. 1643. The present state of the islands in the archipelago
Chora, the main village, is located on a hill above a small natural harbour which has not been modified to cater for yachts and large ships: there are no fishing boats, an indication that the inhabitants live off farming and mining.
There are no mules in Kimolos, only wretched little
donkeys. (..) So in Kimolos I preferred
to walk. It had got quite dark by the time we reached the
solitary town of the island. It is a walled town - that is
to say, like many of these island towns, the backs of the
houses form a wall all round, and it is entered by a gate
at either end. (..) When once the present town is left behind there is
very little trace of habitation or life on the island. Bent
The settlement during the Venetian period was made up of rows of houses forming a rectangle: the buildings did not have doors or windows on their outer side: the village could only be accessed through three small gates.
Inside the fortified village
The streets were, as usual, filthy, and the
houses entered by steps, which project into the streets,
below being the stable, the warehouse, and the pigsty. On
the steps were platforms, where all the gossips of Kimolos
sit whilst they ply their spindles and pull their neighbours
to pieces. When we issued forth next morning every
platform was covered with a staring crowd, and it was a
trying ordeal to walk down the main street in imminent
danger of stepping off the narrow ledge, called a footpath,
into that abominable mire. Bent
The houses were built according to a standard pattern with outside steps leading to the upper apartment: those which are still used have been modified with the opening of additional windows: the abandoned ones as well as the keep show evidence of architectural elements having some pretentiousness.
The Island of Argentiero hath but one small Town, whose Inhabitants are most Privateers. When the Tribute Master comes, the men hide themselves,
leaving the Women and Children to their mercy. Randolph
A special French consul lived on Kimolos, because the ships used to stop in the good harbourage which lies between the two islands; and Mr. Brest used to intercede with the Kapitan Pasha, who came to levy taxes, on behalf of the inhabitants; consequently he was omnipotent here. Mr. Brest it was who in after-years discovered the Venus of Melos, and his son (now an old man) is still everybody's vice-consul at Melos, and a man of weight. From Kimolos old Mr. Brest used to feed many of the European museums, and opened many profitable tombs. Bent
The masters of Kimolos (the Gozzadini family or their representatives on the island) lived in a keep inside the large rectangular square formed by the houses: its remains show that it was a massive construction, similar to that of Andiparo.
Their belief in vampires here in
Kimolos is very firm, and though in Greece the heads of
the Church are now set against allowing the people to
hold such beliefs, which at one time were in a measure
sanctioned by the Church, yet it takes a long time to
eradicate superstitions which have lived for centuries. (..) Kimolos and Melos, more than any other islands of
the archipelago, have been visited by pestilential scourges;
consequently in these islands the belief in vampires is
more rampant than elsewhere in the Cyclades. Bent
The 1608 church dedicated to Agios Hrissostomos and Evanghelistria shows that the Ottomans did not impose on the inhabitants of the small Aegean islands the same restrictions about the size and appearance of their churches which they applied to the Christian communities living on the mainland. The church, which luckily has not been whitewashed, has some interesting details.
The image used as background for this page shows a coat of arms (maybe of a Franciscan monastery) above the entrance of one of the gates.
Introductory page on the Venetian Fortresses in Greece
List of the fortresses
|Geographic area||Location||Ionian Islands||Corfų (Kerkyra) Paxo (Paxi) Santa Maura (Lefkadas) Cefalonia (Kephallonia) Asso (Assos) Itaca (Ithaki) Zante (Zachintos) Cerigo (Kythera)||Greek Mainland||Butrinto (Butrint) Parga Preveza and Azio (Aktion) Vonizza (Vonitsa) Lepanto (Nafpaktos) Atene (Athens)||Peloponnese (Morea)||Castel di Morea (Rio), Castel di Rumelia (Antirio) and Patrasso (Patra) Castel Tornese (Hlemoutsi) and Glarenza Navarino (Pilo) and Calamata Modon (Methoni) Corone (Koroni) Braccio di Maina, Zarnata, Passavā and Chielefā Mistrā Corinto (Korinthos) Argo (Argos) Napoli di Romania (Nafplio) Malvasia (Monemvassia)||Aegean Islands||Negroponte (Chalki) Castelrosso (Karistos) Oreo Lemno (Limnos) Schiatto (Skiathos) Scopello (Skopelos) Alonisso Schiro (Skyros) Andro (Andros) Tino (Tinos) Micono (Mykonos) Siro (Syros) Egina (Aegina) Spezzia (Spetse) Paris (Paros) Antiparis (Andiparos) Nasso (Naxos) Serifo (Serifos) Sifno (Syphnos) Milo (Milos) Argentiera (Kimolos) Santorino (Thira) Folegandro (Folegandros) Stampalia (Astipalea)||Crete||Grambusa (Granvousa) Castello (Kasteli/Kissamos) La Canea (Xania) Souda Candia (Iraklion) Rettimo (Rethymno) Spinalonga and Castel Mirabello Castles on the southern coast Sittia and Paleocastro|
You may refresh your knowledge of the history of Venice in the Levant by reading an abstract from
the History of Venice by Thomas Salmon, published in 1754. The Italian text is accompanied by an English summary.