A Voyage to Kythera means to many people a nostalgic desirable wandering in exotic and dream places, just like in Wattaeu’s romantic painting “The Embarkation for the Island of Kythera”
A Voyage to Kythera means to many people a nostalgic wandering in exotic and dreamt places, just like in Wattaeu’s romantic painting The Embarkment for the Island of Kythera. The myth of Kythera, also known as the island of love, goes far back in the traditions of France and Italy. Voyage to Kythera, a difficult task, an island to which pilgrims set out but never succeed in arriving. As long as it stays far, preserves its distant spark as a land of eternal destination, impossible dream and ideal beauty. Since ancient times Kythera is related to the myth of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and Eros. There it lies in her heavenly haze as a land as much utopic as well real and within reach.
The name Kythera (Cerigo) has its roots deep inside history. Homer reports it in his epic work Iliad, while Goddess Aphrodite, the Goddess of love is being identified with the island and takes the name Kythereia (Akytheros was named the man that had lack of charm).
Other important writers of ancient times also refer in the island named Kythera. Amongst them Herodotus, Dionysios, even Aristotle (who admits that the island was named Porphyris- because of the processing of Rhodopsin murex- but during his time it had the name Kythera) and Xenophon (in his “Hellenica” used the term Kythereia land).
Isidore (geographer from A’ century A.C.) supported a ” subversive” opinion, that the island was named after Kythereia Aphrodite and not the other way around. In fact he spoke for the first time for the meaning of the verb Keftho and it’s relevance with the Goddess and the island (in that place, that’s Kythera) discover the hidden passion of love.
Kythira lies opposite the eastern tip of the Peloponnesus peninsula. It has an area of 284 square kilometers. For many centuries, while naval travel was the only means for transportation, the island possessed a strategic location. Since the ancient times, until the mid 19th century, Kythira had been a crossroads of merchants, sailors, and conquerors. As such, it has had a long and varied history and has been influenced by a plethora of civilisations and cultures. This is reflected in its architecture (a blend of traditional, Aegean and Venetian elements), as well as the traditions and customs, influenced by centuries of coexistence of the Greek, Venetian and British civilisations as well as its numerous visitors.
At the start of the second millennium B.C. it was a Minoan colony and in 424 BC it came under the sway of Athens. Over the centuries it knew a succession of rulers from the Romans to the Byzantines, Venetians and Turks, and it was frequently looted by Barbary pirates. Kytherians still talk about the destruction and looting by Barbarossa, it has become an intrinsic part of the Kytherian folklore, yet one can easily accept the stories of locals by noticing the number of monasteries embedded in the rocky hillsides to avoid destruction by the pirates.
Kythira suffers under a variety of pseudonyms, variants, and alternates. Inhabited since early times and the site of an early Minoan trading post, Kythira was invaded, settled, and then invaded again and again. Placed under Venetian rule by Marco Venieri, who claimed a family descent from Aphrodite under her other name, Venus, this rugged island off the coast of the Peloponnese was called Tsego or Csego.