Former Greek Civil War, Junta Prison Island Ruled Archaeological Site

(Photo by Eurokinissi)

During the rule of the Colonels of Greece’s junta from 1967-74, political prisoners were often sent to the island of Makronissos in the northern Cyclades, which now has been declared an area of archaeological interest by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS.)

The island is about an hour off Greece’s coast just north of what is now the international airport and near Tzia, also called Kea, a favorite of Greeks and European visitors for its quiet and beaches.

The proposal came from the Cyclades Ephorate of Antiquities which is conducting field expeditions on the island in the past few years, said Kathimerini, despite the island’s shady and violent history where prisoners from the left were often maltreated.

Among the prisoners of Makronisos were the now late Apostolos Santas, who, with Manolis Glezos took the Nazi flag down from Acropolis in 1941 and were revered as heroes before being persecuted by the Colonels.

Also imprisoned there were film director Nikos Koundouros; the famed composer Mikis Theodorakis; Leonidas Kyrkos, a Communist who was a resistance fighter in World War II and narrowly escaped being executed after the Colonels bent to international pressure,  and renowned comic actor Thanasis Vengos.

Makronissos, along with Gyaros in the northern Cyclades, served as the notorious prison site for leftists from the time of the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) until the restoration of democracy, after the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974, noted Kathimerini.

THE ISLE OF SHAME

The island is located close to the eastern coast of Attica, facing the port of Lavrio.

The Culture Ministry said that, during its historic significance, the island has been protected since 1989, when it was declared as an area of historic importance, while the buildings in the detention camps became listed.

Archaeologists also discovered antiquities. The first man-made remains in Makronisos date back to the late 4th millennium BC, while the first settlement that has been discovered on the island dates from the Early Bronze Age and is located in Provatsa, on the west side of the island, the paper added in a feature.

In 2015, after extensive expeditions by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, archaeologists discovered five ancient shipwrecks dating from the mid-Hellenistic to the Late Roman period.

“The declaration of the whole island as an archaeological site completes the long-term protection of Makronissos’ man-made objects by all the competent authorities of the Ministry of Culture,” it said in a statement.