Sights - Chania Prefecture

Agii Theodori


Off the coast at Agia Marina, 10 km west of Chania, is the island of Agii Theodori, often referred to as Thodorou. According to tradition, the inhabitants of the area were awakened one night by a an infernal noise. The went down to the beach to find out from where the noise came, and here they saw the island come barging directly towards them. They prayed to Virgin Mary for help and she stopped the island by petrifying it.




In Antiquity the island was called Akytos, but it was later named after its Agios Theodoros church where a saint's festival is held on the 8th of June - which is also the only day admission to the island is allowed.


In 1583 the Venetians built two small fortresses on the island - one to the northeast and one to the southwest - from where they were able to watch the entire bay outside Chania which was frequently attacked and ravaged by pirates.


Before the Venetians fortified the island, the pirates used it as a base for their attacks on merchant ships approaching Chania.


The largest of the fortresses (southwest) commanded 3 cannons and was manned by 40 soldiers. The smaller one had 2 cannons and 25 soldiers.


When the Turks in June 1645 landed very large quantities of troops and materials near the Gonia monastery at Kolymbari, the island's Italian captain Giulio Vlasis gathered all the soldiers, the cannons and the materials on the south-eastern fortress. But the very same night, the Turks managed to land troops onto Theodorou under cover of the darkness.

The beach at Kolymbari


At dawn the Turks attacked the fortress at the same time as their navy bombarded the confined Venetians. When the Venetian captain at midday had to realize that all resistance was in vain, he set fire to the powder barrels so the entire fortress blew up. The explosion not only killed the surviving Venetian soldiers but took along also 500 Turkish soldiers to their death. It was like an omen of the horrifying destruction of the Arkadi monastery 220 years later.


In 1930 Theodorou was assigned to the municipality of Agia Marina which in co-operation with Chania's hunter's association made the island into a nature reserve.

In 1935 Thodoros Viglis caught a kri kri (wild goat) in the Samaria gorge. The goat was released on the preserved island together with two she-goats so that the endemic goats were able to breed without intervention.
The island has later supplied goats to many of the zoological gardens in the world because the animals are purebred in contrast to many of the goats still living freely in Lefka Ori which are often mixed with domestic goats.

But soon it emerged that the first population was so few in number that the goats became "intermarried" and this caused small changes of the original species. So the population on the island was increased in order to prevent further inbreeding.



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