Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Hydra a center for shipping in the Aegean due to it's strategic location. Ship captains became wealthy and built mansions on the island. When the Greek war of independence began in 1821 these ships and captains became the backbone of the Greek navy. Among the captains was a woman, Laskarina Bouboulina.

Greece won it's independence in 1828, but the cost for Hydra was high - many ships had been destroyed and the island sunk into poverty.

Hydra has had an active history involving it in outsized contributions to Greek independence and a prominent place in contemporary Greek cultural life.


After decades of decline, the island was 'discovered' in the 50's and 60's.

Current population: 2,500

Size of the island: 25 sq. miles

Highest point: Mt. Eros 1,936ft

In 1957, one of Sophia Loren's early movies, "Boy on a Dolphin" (commemorated with the above statue) was set here. In 1960 Lenord Cohen purchased a house here for $1,500 in a desire to escape the things that were interfering with the development of his art. His song "Bird on a Wire" is said to be reflection on the encroachments of civilization here (the stringing of telephone wires), but that birds would continue to sing (the life force of people would go on). Henry Miller set part of his "Colossus of Maroussi" here.

But, the island has contributed a lot to Greek history, apart from its role in western culture. Several prime ministers of Greece, (beginning with Georgios Kountouriotis) hailed from here as well as one Greek president, Pavlos Kountouriotis (grandson of Georgios).

In recent years, the island has become a tourist destination, and not only for foreign visitors.

Last modified 7/15/09; Original content © 2009 John P. Nordin