Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis - Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη  
 
 
 
 
 
 
A citizen's rights should include
the right to know one's history.

Philippos Iliou

 
 
 
 
The island of Ai-Stratis
 
 
 
 
The volcanic island of Ayios Efstratios or Ai-Stratis (St. Eustratios) has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Many scholars maintain that it is the mythical island of Chryse (or Nea, Neai or Hiera), where Philoctetes had his horrible accident and where he remained abandoned until near the end of the Trojan War.

Human settlement is well attested in the Byzantine period, when the island was made over to the Athonite monastery of the Great Lavra. It is probably named after the ascetic Saint Eustratios the Wonderworker, who is said to have spent some time as a hermit in a cave here when he was being persecuted by the Iconoclasts.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century the people of Ai-Stratis started emigrating to various other places in the Ottoman Empire in considerable numbers. In Alexandria the emigrants from Ai-Stratis formed a flourishing Confraternity which sent money back to the island to help with the children's education.

On 18th October 1912 a detachment of the Greek army was landed on Ai-Stratis, which was annexed to Greece at the end of the Balkan Wars. The staples of the local economy are agriculture, stockbreeding and fishing.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

The village of Ai-Stratis in the 1940s. The photo shows Boubounas Hill, on which the old village was situated, and the low wall surrounding it, built for protection in the days when pirates roamed the Aegean.
Vasilis and Vyron Manikakis Papers.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

The village of Ai-Stratis in the 1950s, showing the mail boat lying offshore. In those days ferries could not come alongside as there was no jetty. Passengers and cargo were offloaded into small boats which took them ashore. The jetty was built in 1991.
Vasilis and Vyron Manikakis Papers.

Μουσείο Δημοκρατίας στον 'Aη Στράτη - Democracy Museum, Ai Stratis

Village houses after the catastrophic earthquake that struck in the early hours of 20th February 1968, killing twenty people.
The entire village, except for a few still habitable houses, was demolished by order of the Colonels' government and rebuilt on a new site formerly occupied by the western sector of the exiles' internment camp and the villagers' fertile vegetable gardens by the mouths of the two seasonal torrents, the Tenediotis and the Paradissis.
Vasilis and Vyron Manikakis Papers.