From Odysseus to rockers of the Rolling Stones

Antiquities found on the island’s north coast show that Gavdos was inhabited from the 4th to the 3rd millennium BC. Locals are proud of the theory held by several scholars that it was Homer’s Ogygia, Calypso’s island where shipwrecked Odysseus was washed up. During the Minoan period, ships were built in its natural harbors from the cedars on the island, and it was a port of call between Crete and Egypt. The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked there in AD 64. During the early Byzantine period, it had its own bishopric and 8,000 inhabitants. It was then seized by Arabs and pirates. Later the Venetians, who called it Gozzo, once again made it a trading center but also a place of exile for prisoners. The island managed to escape falling into the hands of the Turks and in 1900 still had 415 inhabitants. During the 1930s, leftist leaders Aris Velouhiotis, Markos Vafeiadis and Mitsos Partsalidis were among the 20 political prisoners sent there by the Metaxas regime. In May 1942, Gavdos was invaded by the Germans, and it is then that its decline began. Tourism arrived in the 1980s and since then visitors have been mostly nature lovers and seekers of peace and quiet, romantic nudists from Greece as well as from every other corner of the earth. The shade of the cedar trees has been a temporary home to Ron Wood and Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell and other artists, both Greek and foreign. Now there is just Nikiforos and Mitsos, a Japanese girl called Jasmine, and a couple with a young son, Sebastian, who while away the days carving wood and playing music.

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