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Hydra, Island Of

HYDRA, ISLAND OF (or SIDRA, NIDRA, IDERO, etc.; anc. Hydrea), an island of Greece, lying about 4 m. off the S.E. coast of Argolis in the Peloponnesus, and forming along with the neighbouring island of Dokos (Dhoko) the Bay of Hydra. Pop. about 6200. The greatest length from south-west to north-east is about n m., and the area is about 21 sq. m.; but it is little better than a rocky and treeless ridge with hardly a patch or two of arable soil. Hence the epigram of Antonios Kriezes to the queen of Greece: " The island produces prickly pears in abundance, splendid sea captains and excellent prime ministers." The highest point, Mount Ere, so called (according to Miaoules) from the Albanian word for wind, is 1958 ft. high. The next in importance is known as the Prophet Elias, from the large convent of that name on its summit. It was there that the patriot Theodoras Kolokotrones was imprisoned, and a large pine tree is still called after him. The fact that in former times the island was richly clad with woods is indicated by the name still employed by the Turks, Tchamliza, the place of pines; but it is only in some favoured spots that a few trees are now to be found. Tradition also has it that it was once a well-watered island (hence the designation Hydrea), but the inhabitants are now wholly dependent on the rain supply, and they have sometimes had to bring water from the mainland. This lack of fountains is probably to be ascribed in part to the effect of earthquakes, which are not infrequent; that of 1769 continued for six whole days. Hydra, the chief town, is built near the middle of the northern coast, on a very irregular site, consisting of three hills and the intervening ravines. From the sea its white and handsome houses present a picturesque appearance, and its streets though narrow are clean and attractive. Besides the principal harbour, round which the town is built, there are three other ports on the north coast Mandraki, Molo, Panagia, but none of them is sufficiently sheltered. Almost all the population of the island is collected in the chief town, which is the seat of a bishop, and has a local court, numerous churches and a high school. Cotton and silk weaving, tanning and shipbuilding are carried on, and there is a fairly active trade.

Hydra was of no importance in ancient times. The only fact in its history is that the people of Hermione (a city on the neighbouring mainland now known by the common name of Kastri) surrendered it to Samian refugees, and that from these the people of Troezen received it in trust. It appears to be completely ignored by the Byzantine chroniclers. In 1580 it was chosen as a refuge by a body of Albanians from Kokkinyas in Troezenia; and other emigrants followed in 1590, 1628, 1635, 1640, etc. At the close of the 17th century the Hydriotes took part in the reviving commerce of the Peloponnesus; and in course of time they extended their range. About 1716 they began to build sakturia (of from 10 to 15 tons burden), and to visit the islands of the Aegean; not long after they introduced the latinadika (40-50 tons), and sailed as far as Alexandria, Constantinople, Trieste and Venice; and by and by they ventured to France and even America. From the grain trade of south Russia more especially they derived great wealth. In 1813 there were about 22,000 people in the island, and of these 10,000 were seafarers. At the time of the outbreak of the war of Greek independence the total population was 28,190, of whom 16,460 were natives and the rest foreigners. One of their chief families, the Konduriotti, was worth 2,000,000. Into the struggle the Hydriotes flung themselves with rare enthusiasm and devotion, and the final deliverance of Greece was mainly due to the service rendered by their fleets.

See Pouqueville, Voy. de la Grkce, vol. vi. ; Antonios Miaoules, 'TiroM>T)Ma Tpi js vijaov "TSpas (Munich, 1834) ; Id. SWOJTTUCIJ iaropia TWV KauMiX'"" 4io T&V ir\oiuv TUV rpiuv vi\ausv, "TSpas, IleTffwucai fyapit> (Nauplia, 1833); Id. 'laropia. TTJJ vi\aov "TSpas (Athens, 1874); G. D. Kriezes, 'laropia TTJS vrfaov "TSpas (Patras, 1860).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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