Apeiranthos

Apeiranthos was a community until 1998 that later became a settlement (local department) of Drymalias municipality of Naxos and it finally ended up to be a municipal community of Naxos and Small Cyclades municipality. It is located in the northeastern part of the island that starts from an altitude of 550m in the area of “Lagkadi” and reaches the altitude of 650,00m in the region of “Psari Blaka”.
 
It is situated at the foot of “Fanari” Mountain and it is built in an amphitheatrical way so as to have a view to the southeastern part of the island. It consists of two big neighbours, “Firoistra” from north and “Katiforo” from south. It is 28km far from Chora, the island’s capital. Apeiranthos is about 80km2 long and it has about 1100 permanent residents (census of 2001).
 
The residents mainly deal with livestock farming, construction industry, trade and tourism and in a much smaller extent with agriculture, manufacturing and other home handicraft activities. Besides, they are famous for their mastery of the textile art, poetry and music.
 
In the past, emery mining used to be the main activity of the residents. Emery is an extremely rare and particularly strong stone from which are made abrasive tools of excellent quality since antiquity. This activity continues to play an important role in the village’s economy through a peculiar system of function, though.
 
The history of the village starts back to the prehistoric times and specifically when the Cycladic civilization was in full development. This statement has been proved by the several finds of significant importance found, the researches and excavations that took place mostly in the area of “Korfari Amygdalion”, near the beach of Panormos and the area of “Korfi t’ Aroniou”, near the beach of Kleidos. Another evidence is the name of some places which are of Ancient Greek origin, such as Afiklis (Ifiklis), Dimos, Ellinika and others that can be found in the wide region of Apeiranthos.
 
The important position of the village in Byzantine times, which was probably in the same location as today, can be verified by the important Byzantine monuments of the village, like the Holy Church of Agia Paraskevi in Firoistra, which can be classified in this period thanks to its architecture. There are also many other significant monuments near the village, such as the church of Agios Elefterios, of Agios Paxomios and so on. The oldest reference of the village though is considered to be “ap(era)to” by the Italian traveller and cartographer Christopher Buondelmonti in his list of islands made in 1413.
 
As far as the origin of the name “Aperathou” is concerned, the literary and historical researches conducted from time to time consider that the most probable origins are the name of a landowner called “Aperathou” or the name of a plant called “Pyrethron”. However, the name Apeiranthos is considered to be the literary version of the original one.
During the rule of the Franks (1207-1566) and until 1819, Apeiranthos was paying “Edrities”, a fee that was equivalent with a third of its residents’ income, to the descendants of Frank feudal lords.
 
The presence of Latins into the village is still obvious, concerning the buildings of course, since there is no family there with a Latin surname or of Latin origin. We can consider the towers of Zevgolis and Bardanis as the most important monuments of that period, which both of them belonged to a Venetian lord called Sforza Castri. There is also a building in the main square of the village, “Platsa” as it is typically called by the locals, which has a few coat of arms of the church (of Catholic officers, actually) over some of its lintels.
 
Emery used to be the basic source of wealth for the village during the rule of Franks and the Ottoman rule, as well. The prosperity of that period is verified by the construction of the big village church, Panagia Aperathitissa. Another evidence of the village’s development is the existence of many priests, which indicates that even since the 17th century and mainly the 18th and 19th centuries the village and Naxos in general had actually their own local government with the local Orthodox Church being in charge.
 
The high level of education (for the standards of that period) is also evident from the fact that in 1830 in Apeiranthos was established one of the first, after liberation, mutual teaching schools in Naxos. Its first teacher was the priest Petros Protopapas-Protopapadakis, a descendant of the well-known, by documents, priest Nikolaos Koutzokolos and grandfather of the engineer, professor in the National Technical School of Athens and martyred Prime Minister of Greece, Petros Protopapadakis.
 
Apeiranthos paid dearly the consequences of the National Division since in 1917, 33 non-combatant people, mostly women and children, were killed by government soldiers (Venizelos Government) and about 100 people were injured or maimed. A monument dedicated to those dead people was constructed in the village’s cemetery by the live legend of National Resistance Manolis Glezos, who was born in Apeiranthos and became world-famous because he managed to put down the flag of Nazi in Acropolis. Actually, the monument was constructed between 1986 and 1990 when Manolis Glezos was the President of the Community Council, after having withdrawn from the European Parliament.
 
According to the existing monuments and documents, the residents of Apeiranthos are basically indigenous people whose origins date back to Byzantine times. However, among the population there are certainly some descendants of settlers who came here from several parts of Greece. There are a lot of rumours regarding the relation between Apeiranthos and Crete, mostly due to the similarities of the local dialect with that of a particular region in Crete (Anogia in Rethymno).
For this issue there is a strong disagreement between the educated men of the village ( it should be noted that they constitute a big part of the population, which is a great peculiarity of the village not only in a local but also in a wider level), a  part of whom believes that settlers from Crete came in Apeiranthos after the Cretan Revolution of the residents in Sfakia under Daskalogiannis  (in 1770) and some others who associate this relation with the general connection between Cyclades and the Cretan revolutions.
 
Main representative of the first “Party” is the philologist and author of blessed memory George Zevgolis while supporters of the second opinion are the unforgettable Antonis Katsouros, Vasilis Sfyroeras ( University Professor) and Manolis Glezos, as well. The history of the village in 20th century is closely related to the history of emery which had a constant decline in a financial level which had as a result the dramatic decrease of the village’s population mostly in the post-war years.       
   
    Written by Konstantinos Toubakaris
Apeiranthos was a community until 1998 that later became a settlement (local department) of Drymalias municipality of Naxos and it finally ended up to be a municipal community of Naxos and Small Cyclades municipality. It is located in the northeastern part of the island that starts from an altitude of 550m in the area of “Lagkadi” and reaches the altitude of 650,00m in the region of “Psari Blaka”.
 
It is situated at the foot of “Fanari” Mountain and it is built in an amphitheatrical way so as to have a view to the southeastern part of the island. It consists of two big neighbours, “Firoistra” from north and “Katiforo” from south. It is 28km far from Chora, the island’s capital. Apeiranthos is about 80km2 long and it has about 1100 permanent residents (census of 2001).
 
The residents mainly deal with livestock farming, construction industry, trade and tourism and in a much smaller extent with agriculture, manufacturing and other home handicraft activities. Besides, they are famous for their mastery of the textile art, poetry and music.
 
In the past, emery mining used to be the main activity of the residents. Emery is an extremely rare and particularly strong stone from which are made abrasive tools of excellent quality since antiquity. This activity continues to play an important role in the village’s economy through a peculiar system of function, though.
 
The history of the village starts back to the prehistoric times and specifically when the Cycladic civilization was in full development. This statement has been proved by the several finds of significant importance found, the researches and excavations that took place mostly in the area of “Korfari Amygdalion”, near the beach of Panormos and the area of “Korfi t’ Aroniou”, near the beach of Kleidos. Another evidence is the name of some places which are of Ancient Greek origin, such as Afiklis (Ifiklis), Dimos, Ellinika and others that can be found in the wide region of Apeiranthos.
 
The important position of the village in Byzantine times, which was probably in the same location as today, can be verified by the important Byzantine monuments of the village, like the Holy Church of Agia Paraskevi in Firoistra, which can be classified in this period thanks to its architecture. There are also many other significant monuments near the village, such as the church of Agios Elefterios, of Agios Paxomios and so on. The oldest reference of the village though is considered to be “ap(era)to” by the Italian traveller and cartographer Christopher Buondelmonti in his list of islands made in 1413.
 
As far as the origin of the name “Aperathou” is concerned, the literary and historical researches conducted from time to time consider that the most probable origins are the name of a landowner called “Aperathou” or the name of a plant called “Pyrethron”. However, the name Apeiranthos is considered to be the literary version of the original one.
During the rule of the Franks (1207-1566) and until 1819, Apeiranthos was paying “Edrities”, a fee that was equivalent with a third of its residents’ income, to the descendants of Frank feudal lords.
 
The presence of Latins into the village is still obvious, concerning the buildings of course, since there is no family there with a Latin surname or of Latin origin. We can consider the towers of Zevgolis and Bardanis as the most important monuments of that period, which both of them belonged to a Venetian lord called Sforza Castri. There is also a building in the main square of the village, “Platsa” as it is typically called by the locals, which has a few coat of arms of the church (of Catholic officers, actually) over some of its lintels.
 
Emery used to be the basic source of wealth for the village during the rule of Franks and the Ottoman rule, as well. The prosperity of that period is verified by the construction of the big village church, Panagia Aperathitissa. Another evidence of the village’s development is the existence of many priests, which indicates that even since the 17th century and mainly the 18th and 19th centuries the village and Naxos in general had actually their own local government with the local Orthodox Church being in charge.
 
The high level of education (for the standards of that period) is also evident from the fact that in 1830 in Apeiranthos was established one of the first, after liberation, mutual teaching schools in Naxos. Its first teacher was the priest Petros Protopapas-Protopapadakis, a descendant of the well-known, by documents, priest Nikolaos Koutzokolos and grandfather of the engineer, professor in the National Technical School of Athens and martyred Prime Minister of Greece, Petros Protopapadakis.
 
Apeiranthos paid dearly the consequences of the National Division since in 1917, 33 non-combatant people, mostly women and children, were killed by government soldiers (Venizelos Government) and about 100 people were injured or maimed. A monument dedicated to those dead people was constructed in the village’s cemetery by the live legend of National Resistance Manolis Glezos, who was born in Apeiranthos and became world-famous because he managed to put down the flag of Nazi in Acropolis. Actually, the monument was constructed between 1986 and 1990 when Manolis Glezos was the President of the Community Council, after having withdrawn from the European Parliament.
 
According to the existing monuments and documents, the residents of Apeiranthos are basically indigenous people whose origins date back to Byzantine times. However, among the population there are certainly some descendants of settlers who came here from several parts of Greece. There are a lot of rumours regarding the relation between Apeiranthos and Crete, mostly due to the similarities of the local dialect with that of a particular region in Crete (Anogia in Rethymno).
For this issue there is a strong disagreement between the educated men of the village ( it should be noted that they constitute a big part of the population, which is a great peculiarity of the village not only in a local but also in a wider level), a  part of whom believes that settlers from Crete came in Apeiranthos after the Cretan Revolution of the residents in Sfakia under Daskalogiannis  (in 1770) and some others who associate this relation with the general connection between Cyclades and the Cretan revolutions.
 
Main representative of the first “Party” is the philologist and author of blessed memory George Zevgolis while supporters of the second opinion are the unforgettable Antonis Katsouros, Vasilis Sfyroeras ( University Professor) and Manolis Glezos, as well. The history of the village in 20th century is closely related to the history of emery which had a constant decline in a financial level which had as a result the dramatic decrease of the village’s population mostly in the post-war years.       
   
    Written by Konstantinos Toubakaris
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