Ever since the ancient times, Inousses, this tiny piece of land, called by many the “Aegean stone-boat”, despite of its small size, has gained the interest mainly of the neighboring coasts of Chios and Minor Asia, as well as of mainland Greece.
According to the Historian George Zolotas, the old name of the island Inousses indicates a large and high-quality wine production. (oinos = wine)
Located on the crossroad between mainland Greece and Minor Asia, as well as between South Aegean and the Vosporos Straits, Inousses were well known and of great importance since antiquity. Consequently, we find references about this island complex in ancient scripts.
With precision, the historical references start from Ekataios the Militian (540 – 470 bC) who, in his Atlas for Europe titled “Travelling in Europe, Earth Periods”, as is delivered by Stefanos Vyzantios (approx. end of 5th century – mid 6th century AC) mentions: “Inousses. Islands close to Chios. The indigenous are called Inoussios or Inoussaios”.
Further ahead references are met in the scripts of other ancient Greek and Latin authors, historians etc, as follows:
Herodotus mentions that the Focians, right before the conquest of Focaia by Kyros, sent ambassadors to Chios asking to buy Inousses, aiming to make of the islands their new homeland. The Chians refused for commercial purposes, as well as due to the geostrategic location of the islands and its well protected harbour. In his Book A, page 165-166 he mentions that “…. The Chians did not wish to sell the islands known as Inousses to those who asked to buy them….”
The above is also mentioned by Zolotas, the historian, who also writes that: It is therefore apparent that the Inousses islands were inhabited since then and that their harbor was a good mooring place….
Zolotas also mentions: “According to Thoukydedes, during the Athenian sovereignty over Chios, Inousses Islands have also been fortified by the Athenians”.
Thoukydydes also mentions in his book “The history of the Peloponnesian War” H’ 24: “Leon and Diomedon …. used the Inousses Islands (close to Chios) as base to launch attacks against the Chians from their battleships”.
Latin author Plinios Jr in his book Naturalis Historia 5, 137 mentions “Inoussa, included a city” (Oenusa, cumoppido).
In the Apostles Acts, in Chapter K, 15, that refers to Apostle’s Paul’s journey from Troas to Militos, we read: “having sailed from there, the next day we anchored opposite to Chios”. We conclude that they moored in the port of Inousses.
According to historian Nikos Andriotis, during the following centuries, Inousses must have followed the neighbouring Chios on the fact that there are no specific historical references for any of them.
In an official document dated in 1315, Martino Zaccaria was noted as Master of Ιnousses, while another script dated in 1363, Ιnousses is occupied by the Genoese Maona.
From 1521 onwards, the Turkish Captain Piri Reis mentions the island which, due to its geographical position and its’ many small and secure mooring bays became a meeting area for pirates.
In 1566, Turkish admiral Piali Passas conquers both Chios and Ιnousses.
The islands become an action center during the last war between Venetians and Turks (1694-1695) mainly by the Venetian Battlefleet, as well as in 1770, by the Russian Battlefleet, during the war between Russians and Turks.
During the 17th Century, oral tradition has it that shepherds from Kardamyla inhabited for short terms the main island. We find frequent references of the name of Inousses on maps and different scripts, also called Spalmadori (until late 19th century), as well as Agunto and Oenouses.
During the 18th century, shepherds and farmers from Kardamyla settled permanently on the island, creating the first settlement in “Kastro”.
During the 19th Century, this settlement expanded further east in “Mandraki”, the cemetery of St. Paraskevi, and the churches of Saint George and St Nicholas Church have been built, exactly where they are located today.
A Community has been organised and the settlers chose their local leaders. The population on the island was approx. 250 people living mainly from the sea.
Following Chios Genocide (1822), a lot of Inoussians left their island, seek refuge in already liberated areas of Greece and had the initial contact with the maritime professions. Hence, when they returned in their home island in 1829, the Oinoussians found themselves working for Chian Sailing Ships.
The Krimean War era (1853-1856) has been effectively a significant threshold for the Inoussian maritime development. The apparent love for the sea, as well as the strong sense of solidarity shown between the Inoussian families contributed to the peak that this island reached. The Inoussians built ships and expanded their maritime activities from the Eastern to the Western Mediterranean.
On 11/11/1912, the Ottoman Occupation officially comes to an end, both for Inousses and neighboring Chios.
In 1914, during the first persecution, a lot of Minor Asia residents came to Inousses, mainly from the settlements of the opposite Erythrea. They repatriated in 1918-1919.
Unfortunately, in 1922, with the Minor Asian Destruction, many refugees have been rooted out permanently from their homes and settled on the island.
The refugees from Minor Asia achieved to build anew their lives and their dreams on this new homeland. They worked hard and unstoppably, and they contributed to the maritime industry, the economic growth, and the local culture of Inousses. Furthermore, they contributed significantly to the vertical population increase on the island, which consequently put a hold to the island’s decline. In 1928, the population on the island reached the 2.500 inhabitants.
In 1941, the Germans occupied the island, creating serious problems to the islanders, like the rest of Greece. However, things improved a little later due to the care of wealthy Inoussians from London and Athens.
After the liberation, a movement to Athens, the Greek Capital, has been noted.
Despite the damages suffered during the 2nd World War, the Inoussian commercial fleet rebuilt fast. The Inoussians bought a lot of second-hand vessels and, at the same timer ordered new ones.
In 1954, the Maritime High School has been inaugurated on the island, which assisted to withhold the population and upgrade the Education offered on Inousses.
Furthermore, the facts that overseas Inoussians, from the United States or England, funded public infrastructure, and Inoussian non-profit associations in London and Athens offered assistance to the poorer, retained the island’s population.
In 1974, the population of the island took a hit due to the Turkish invasion to Cyprus. A few abandoned their homeland, fearing that the same could happen to Inousses. Some of them, eventually returned.
Today, the character of this frontier island complex has dramatically changed. Mandraki settlement has been characterized as Traditional Settlement and the Inoussians renovate or rebuild their homes according to the islands building and architectural tradition. Additionally, the whole complex has been inducted to the “Natura 2000” environmental protection network, as an area of exquisite beauty.
Infrastructural projects have been completed (the harbor, a desalination factory, the water and sewage network, a rainwater lake, the Esplanade, the Stadium etc) contributing to a population increase, an upgrade of the lifestyle of the permanent residents and an improvement to the level of services provided to the visitors.