In Greek mythology when Theseus slaughtered the Minotaur he had taken Ariadne with him and headed towards Athens. Sailing by Donousa, it is said that Theseus couldn’t resist temptation and he and Ariadne disembarked. That’s when the amorous Dionysios appeared. He fell madly in love with Ariadne and the ill-fated Theseus, unable to sever God’s desire, abandoned her on the island.
According to historians, it is said that our island was first inhabited in the 3rd century B.C., during the Early Cycladic Period. We have no reason to doubt these findings as the ancient settlements unearthed here have confirmed the speculations.
Donousa flourished during the Geometric Period. Inhabitants at Vathi Limenari specifically, had enjoyed the splendor of this island from the 10th century B.C. This is where a Geometric Settlement and cemetery were discovered.
From that time on, signs of island civilization are unclear. According to some, it was a place for exiles during the 2nd century B.C. when Romans occupied the Cyclades as well as being a hideaway for pirates.
Donousa was under the jurisdiction of the Venetian Duke from the 13th to 16th centuries A.D. until its seizure from the Ottomans.
During the Ottoman Empire, once a year, a Turkish ship would moor in order to collect taxes.
Other reports accuse Donousians of knowing about the deposition of King Otto 14 years before the fact when King George I of Greece had visited our island.
At the turn of the 19th century our island became a summer grazing ground for many shepherds from Aigiali, Amorgos, and eventually by about 1830, these shepherds remained permanently and began cultivating the land.
During WWI the German cruiser ship “Gaiben” found refuge behind the White Cape and escaped British and French warships.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were 3,000 inhabitants most of whom were working in the mines that were operational up until 1938.
Today there are few inhabitants yet they are the epitome of less is more.
Despite the small population, our island has an elementary school, a junior high school and senior high school.
The principal occupations are animal husbandry, fishing and tourism.
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