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Alonnisos: Greece's Natural Paradise of Many Names (video)

Idyllic beach on the island of Alonnisos. Photo by Vasilis Drosakis as found in Proto Thema. Original source: AMNA

Greece is a country encompassing many islands, both large and small, as well as popular and almost completely unknown. What makes Alonnisos different, however, is its intact, almost virginal natural state. It is a truly remote, idyllic Greek destination, with its waters reflecting every shade of green and blue and its sands pink and cream.
Located near Skiathos and Skopelos in Greece’s Magnesia regional unit, it is the third member of the Sporades archipelago in the center of the Aegean Sea.
Alonnisos, apart from its untold beauty, has a strange, peculiar story behind its name — a name that was actually given to her by mistake!
The third island of the Sporades archipelago was known for centuries during the Middle Ages as “Lidromi” or “Liadromia,” a word that derives from the Greek word ”diadromoi,”  meaning “paths.”
After many years of usage, and probably because ”Diadromoi” was not an easy word for the Turks and the Italians who were present at the time to pronounce, the word morphed into ”Lidromi.”
Italian map from 1697, depicting Alonnisos as “Lidromi”

Its original name ”Diadromoi” (or “Heliodromoi,” according to other sources) was given to the island probably due to its geographical position, in the middle between northern and southern Greece, as the island was seen as a path between the north and the south.
However, in the early years of the modern Greek state in 1830s, King Otto, driven by the new state’s renewal of classicism and love for Greek antiquity, decided to rename the island.
It was then believed that the ancient name of the island was actually “Alonnisos,” which literally means in Greek ”the island of salt.” So the Greek authorities decided to rename Lidromi as Alonnisos.
The name change officially took place in 1838, and people eventually got used to calling the third island of the Sporades ”Alonnisos.”
However, scientific research conducted decades later discovered that Alonnisos was not the name that the ancient Greeks used for the island after all.
In ancient times, Alonnisos was actually known as “Icus” or “Icos.”
Alonnisos was the name of another, smaller neighboring island somewhere between Samothrace and Icus.
But the Greek authorities thought that it was too late to correct their mistake by re-changing the name of Alonnisos after just a few years’ time.
So Icus, now known as Alonnisos, is still there, whatever people have called it over the centuries or may call it in the future, and it is waiting for Aegean explorers to visit its shores and enjoy its unspoiled beauty.
With a permanent population of approximately 2,500 people, Alonnisos is the most remote  island of the Sporades and is the least touched by mass tourism. It is ready to offer much-needed moments of calm and idyllic relaxation to its fortunate visitors.

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