Psara, Black Ridge
|Administrative region||North Aegean|
|o Municipality||44.511 km2 (17.186 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||512 m (1,680 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|o Municipality density||10/km2 (27/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
Psara (Greek: ?, Psará, [psa'ra]; known in ancient times as ?/, Psyra/Psyri?) is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. Together with the small island of Antipsara (Population 4) it forms the municipality of Psara. It is part of the Chios regional unit, which is part of the North Aegean region. The only town of the island and seat of the municipality is also called Psara.
Psara had 448 inhabitants according to the 2011 census. It has a small port linking to the island of Chios and other parts of Greece.
Psara lies 81 km (50 mi) northwest of Chios, 22 km (14 miles) from the northwestern point of the island of Chios and 150 km (93 mi) east-northeast of Athens. The length and width of the island are about 7 by 8 km (4 by 5 mi) and the area is 43 km2 (17 sq mi). The highest point on the island is "Profitis Ilias" (512 m (1,680 ft)). The municipality has total area of 44.511 km2 (17.186 sq mi).
The flag of Psara today is based largely on the island's famous revolutionary flag created by Psariot locals in 1824. The original flag is made of white cloth bordered with red; it bears the symbols of Filiki Eteria in red (a large cross atop a crescent, a spear, and an anchor); wrapped around the anchor is a green snake. Written in red capital letter above the cross and broken up by it is the islands name, -. On either side of the Filiki Eteria symbols, in red capital letters, are the words ? ? (Eleftheria i Thanatos, 'Liberty or Death'). The modern flag uses a very similar design but omits the island's name from the top and has added a yellow bird flying near the mouth of the snake. The flag was carried during the War of Independence by Psariot ships.
It has been inhabited since the Mycenaean period, its inhabitants relying on the sea to make a living as the island is treeless and rocky with little shrubbery.
Homer, Strabo, Cratinus, Suda and Stephanus of Byzantium referred to the island as Psyra (Ancient Greek: ? and ?) and Psyrian (Ancient Greek: ). The island had a city also called Psyra.
The islanders' sole source of livelihood has always been fishing, mainly for the locally abundant slipper lobsters, and shipping, with some tourist development in recent years.
There was a proverb which was used: Psyra celebrating Dionysos (Ancient Greek: ? ?). Because Psyra was a poor and small island which could not produce wine, the proverb used in reference to people who were reclining at a symposium but not drinking. It was also used to things which displayed poverty. Another proverb about Psyra was also used in order to show poverty, You regard Sparta as Psyra (Ancient Greek: ? ? ).
Psara joined the Greek War of Independence on April 10, 1821. Future Prime Minister Konstantinos Kanaris and Dimitrios Papanikolis distinguished themselves as naval leaders, using fire ships to combat the more powerful Ottoman Navy.
On July 3 (June 21 O.S.), 1824, the island was invaded by the Turks. The resistance of the Psariots ended the next day with a last stand at the town's old fort of Palaiokastro (alternative name Mavri Rachi, literally "black ridge"). Hundreds of soldiers and also women and children had taken refuge there when an Ottoman force of 2000 stormed the fort. The refugees first threw a white flag with the words " ? ?" ("Eleftheria i Thanatos", "Freedom or Death"). Then, the moment the Turks entered the fort, the local Antonios Vratsanos lit a fuse to the gunpowder stock, in an explosion that killed the town's inhabitants along with their enemies — thus remaining faithful to their flag to their death. A French officer who heard and saw the explosion compared it to a volcanic eruption of Vesuvius.
A part of the population managed to flee the island, but those who did not were either sold into slavery or killed. As a result of the invasion, thousands of Greeks met a tragic fate. The island was deserted and surviving islanders were scattered through what is now Southern Greece. Theophilos Kairis, a priest and scholar, took on many of the orphaned children and developed the famous school the Orphanotropheio of Theophilos Kairis. Psara remained in the hands of the Ottomans until it was recaptured by the Greek navy on 21 October 1912 during the First Balkan War.
The destruction of Psara by the Ottomans was conducted in retaliation for the destruction of Turkish ships by revolutionaries Konstantinos Kanaris and Dimitrios Papanikolis. It inspired the poet Andreas Kalvos to write the ode "To Psara" (Greek: " ?"); perhaps more famously, the event also inspired the poet Dionysios Solomos — the author of the Hymn to Liberty — to write in 1825 a poem (or epigram) about it called "The Destruction of Psara" (Greek: "? ? "):
? ? .
'? ? ?
On the all-black ridge of Psara
Glory walks by herself taking in
the bright young men on the war field
the crown of her hair wound
from the last few grasses left
on the desolate earth.