Castellorizo - A Background On


A brief overview of the geography of the island of Castellorizo and a historical outline in chronological order.


Compiled by Paul Boyatzis



Satellite Photograph of Castellorizo showing Turkish Coastline Nearby


Castellorizo is the most eastern of the Greek islands in the southern Sporades grouped with the Dodecanese islands in the Aegean sea. The largest in the group, being Rhodes is some 110 kilometers away and is separated from the capital, Athens, by 580 kilometers. It is an arid rocky outcrop less than 3 kilometers from the Turkish coast and measures a mere 6 X 3 kilometers in area. Castellorizo has two harbours, the deeper being well protected around which the town is built. The other, Mandraki, is smaller and shallower and has never been the site of dense habitation but has served a convenient ship building and repair function for centuries. The plateau above the Mandraki is known as Avlonia and to the left is seen the island's easternmost promontory, Megalos Niftis. Castellorizo has 14 dependent islets. The two largest, Rho and Strongili were both inhabited sporadically until fairly recently and retain light houses to this day.


Map of the Mediterranean showing locations discussed on the website




Castellorizo is believed, like Rhodes to have received the Aegean culture of the Bronze Age with the Carians, followed traditionally by the Dorians, as the first distinct ethnic group. After the 11 th century all the Dodecanese were reoccupied by Greek speaking emigrants from mainland Greece. Nicholas Pappas in his book Castellorizo - An Illustrated History of The Island and its Conquerors records Dorian settlement on Megiste by the existing evidence of large scale habitation of the island prior to the Classical period (5th century B.C.).Archaeologically there is ample evidence that Castellorizo was continuously inhabited throughout the pre-Classical era from perhaps as early as the 9th century B.C.

Over the successive centuries Megiste / Castello Roso / Kastellorizo features convincingly in historical documents , however it is beyond the scope of this article to record in detail. Never the less it may be of interest to the reader to summarize the tabulation of chronological events included in the book The Knights' Castle on Kastellorizo written by John Hemsley Pearn and Vlasis Pitsonis Efstathis.


2800 - 1100 BC Bronze Age. Hill-forts established on the high ground of the Palaeokastro.

1600 BC Castellorizo influenced by Mycenian civilization and culture.

190 BC Castellorizo becomes part of the Republic of Rhodes.

Circa 350 460 AD Byzantine control.

1309 Knights of St John established permanently on Castellorizo.

1452 Castellorizo formally occupied by the King of Naples, Alfonso of Aragon.

1520 Rhodes (and inevitably Castellorizo) fell to Suleiman II - " Suleiman the Magnificent"

1659 The Venetian fleet occupied Castellorizo.

1695 Turkish assault on Castellorizo and occupation of the island.

1821 The Greek War of Independence. Castellorizo rebelled and enjoyed independence 1821 until 1831.

1831 Castellorizo bartered to Turkey, in exchange for Euboa.

1836 The Turkish sultan Mahmout II awarded the island self - government.

1913 Revolution on Castellorizo.

1914 Outbreak of First World War

1915 The French conquer the Island's garrison

1918 First World War ends.

1921 - 1943 Italian occupation

1926 An earthquake causing widespread destruction

1933 Mussolini gives nine of the 25 rocky islets surrounding Castellorizo to Turkey.

1939 Outbreak of World War 11 .

1941; and

1943 - 1947 British occupation.

1943 October 17th Island evacuated...extensive German Air Force bombing.

1945 September 29th Empire Patrol Disaster

1947 British military forces leave Castellorizo

1948 Castellorizo returned to Greece.



Next Chapter