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The castle or Goulas of Aghios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas)- present-day Oia, or Epano Meria (Upper Side), – was built at the northwest tip of the island. The settlement was named after the church of Saint Nicholas built on the volcanic rock in the 15th or 16th century.

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Later on, at the centre of the fortified village stood the Cathedral of Panagia Akathistos Ymnos (Unseated Virgin Mary Hymn), or Platsani.
A defensive hub is believed to have existed here since 1480, ruled by the Dargentas, Latinized Greeks claiming to be descendants of the Byzantine emperor Romanus III Argyrus. They remained in charge of the Upper Side until 1577.
In 1579, the Duchy of the Aegean was handed over to the Ottomans and so the Upper Side, and the rest of the island alike, remained under their rule for 250 years.
The count down started for Epano Meria, while raids of pirates continued, the population kept decreasing and the castle did not offer enough protection for the residents.
In 1650, Culumbos, the submarine volcano northeast of Oia, erupted violently, and volcanic activity continued for two months. It was then followed by earthquakes and ejections of volcanic ash and thunders heard as far as Chios and Dardanelia.

Years of prosperity
Development resumed in 1850. As province of the newborn Greek state, it relied on the shipping industry and commerce, therefore it was called "village of captains".
In 1890, there were around 2,500 inhabitants, 130 ships, a shipyard at Armeni bay, 13 parishes, a bank, a customs office, small factories etc. Agriculture was also developed.
Later on, various factors –such as the emergence of steamships, the shutting down of the small factory operating there, the earthquakes of 1928 and 1956 – led to the decline of the community.

The earthquake
The effects of the 1956 earthquake were particularly severe, since parts of the ground collapsed into the sea. The churches of Panagia Platsani and Aghios (St) Georgios were destroyed. Oia was deserted as people left the island and moved to Piraeus, Drapetsona, and Lavrio. This is quite hard to imagine when seeing Oia today...
The locals returned in the 1980s, and gradually the village came back to life. The contribution of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) was quite significant: In the years between 1976 and 1991, 60 traditional buildings at the centre of Oia were restored, as well as in Perivolas and Ammoudi, to be used as guesthouses.



At the Maritime museum you will find information and photographic material for the heydays of the shipping during 18th-19th century.

Information from Kadio Kolimva's book about Oia/ A publication of the Community of Oia.

Οία οικισμός - Ιστορία
Οία οικισμός - Ιστορία

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