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Kea (Greek: Κέα), also known as Gia or Tzia (Greek: Τζια), Zea, and, in Antiquity, Keos (Greek: Κέως, Latin: Ceos), is an island of the Cyclades archipelago, in the Aegean Sea, in Greece. Kea is part of the Kea-Kythnos peripheral unit. Its capital, Ioulis, is inland at a high altitude (like most ancient Cycladic settlements, for the fear of pirates) and is considered quite picturesque. Other major villages of Kea are Korissia (the port) and Vourkari (a fishing village). After suffering depopulation for many decades, Kea has been recently rediscovered by Athens as a convenient destination for weekends and yachting trips. The population in 2001 was 2,417.


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It is the island of the Cyclades complex that is closest to Attica (about 1 hour by ferry from Lavrio) and is also 20 km from Cape Sounio as well as 60 km SE of Athens. Its climate is arid and its terrain is hilly. Kea is 19 km long from north to south and 9 km wide from west to east. The area is 129 km² with the highest point being 560m.

The municipality Kea includes the island of Makronisos to the northwest.

Kea 1717


Kea is the location of a Bronze Age settlement at the site now called Ayia Irini, which reached its height in the Late Minoan and Early Mycenaean eras (1600-1400 BCE).
Coin from ancient Kea; with a dog and a star.

In the classical period Kea (Ceos) was the home of Simonides and of his nephew Bacchylides, both ancient Greek lyric poets, and the Sophist Prodicus, and the physician Erasistratus. The inhabitants were known for offering sacrifices to the Dog Star Sirius and Zeus to bring cooling breezes while awaiting for the reappearance of Sirius in summer; if the star rose clear, it would portend good fortune; if it was misty or faint then it foretold (or emanated) pestilence. Coins retrieved from the island from the 3rd century BC feature dogs or stars with emanating rays, highlighting Sirius' importance.[1]

During the Byzantine period many churches were built and the prosperity of the island rose. Kea was Byzantine until, in 1204, it was captured by the Venetians in the wake of the fourth crusade. It was recaptured by the Byzantines under Licario in 1278. In 1296 it fell to the Venetians again, who soon built a castle on the ancient acropolis of Ioulis.

Kea was taken from the Venetians by the Ottoman Turks in 1527. It joined Greece following the Greek War of Independence in 1821, along with the rest of the Cyclades.

HMHS Britannic, the largest ship sunk in World War I and sister ship to the RMS Titanic, was sunk off Kea in 1916.

Historical population
Year Island population
1991 1,797
2001 2,417


Ellinika Kea
Kato Meria
Koundouros, Greece

Notable people

Aristo (3rd century BC) Peripatetic philosopher
Prodicus (5th century BC) sophist
Simonides lyric poet (c. 556 BC-468 BC)
Bacchylides ( 5th century BC) lyric poet

See also

Communities of the Cyclades


^ Holberg, JB (2007). Sirius:Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky. Chichester, UK: Praxis Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 0-387-48941-X.

Ancient Greece

Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire

Modern Greece

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