The History of the Island
The name of Hydra is owed to the rich waters, which sprang out from the quarries which existed in the antiquity. During the post Helladic era, Hydra became an outpost of the Mycenean kingdom because its land was suitable for supporting the mountain inhabitants the Dryopeans. During the end of Mycenae era, Hydra was attacked by the Mycenaens. It is rumoured that during the Persian Wars the Hydraeans had taken part in the historic Battle of Salamis. When the Macedonians appeared, Hydra, once again, served as a naval base or grassland of the powerful city of Halieis and when it was invaded and destroyed, Hydra fell into oblivion. After the Byzantine Empire was split, Hydra remained a Venetian dominion until it was passed to the Turks in 1460. At about that time the island of Hydra was settled by Albanian refugees as well as Orhodox Christians, who
were later joined by settlers from Epirus, Crete, Evia, Kythnos and Asia Minor. Then in the 18th century Hydra welcomed a large number of refugees from the Peloponessos during the Russo-Turkish war.
The island during the Ottoman occupation of Greece was largely left alone by the Turks most likely because of its lack of water. By the end of the 18th century Hydra had become quite prosperous because of its commercial fleet which was trading as far as France, Spain and even America. During the Napoleonic wars it was the Hydriotes ships which broke the English blockades and were able to feed the hungry people of France and Spain. The island was quite wealthy at this time and was in a position to contribute itsr ships and supplies to the cause of Independence from the Turks. The help of Hydra in the ethnic-liberating Battle of 1821 was important. It offered 130 ready to battle ships, with a tonnage of
30.000 tonnes, 5.400 men and 2.400 cannons. Hibraim called Hydra a "Little England". The Hydrian fleet dominated this sea during the seven year war, contributting this way resolutely to the freedom of Greece, sacrificing human lifes, ships and money.
seven times Prime Minister of Greece. With the success of the Hydriot spongefishing fleet at the end of the 19th century the island again began a period of prosperity which lasted until 1932 when Egypt forbade fishing along it's coast and corruption in the industry caused profits to dwindle and loans to mount. By the second world war the Hydriotes were again leaving the island, many of whom went abroad. During World War II, the Italian and German conquerors left the island in ruins.
In the 1950's Hydra was discovered by the early tourists, many of whom had read of it in Henry Miller's “Collossus of Marousi.” Since then the island has prospered, living off its beauty as the mansions and homes have been restored. It is a popular place with artists as well as writers who come for inspiration and sometimes never leave.