The Secret Prison Island in Greece used to be a place of horror, the secret prison island of Yaros in the Aegean Sea may soon have a new lease on life. But after a really long and painful past, the transformation the island has brought is no easy task. The empty and seemingly godforsaken island of Yaros located in the southern Aegean is generally known as the “Island of the Devil”. This place has a history of exile that goes back to the period were ancient Romans sent undesirable people to the island. After the Greek Civil War which took place between 1946-1949, the Greek rulers kept the old tradition and sent 20,000 communism protestors and other enemies into exile on Yaros.
The prisoners were treated to a gruesome educational holiday. Anyone who dares to go against the government was ill-treated until their will was broken. These refugees were then re-educated in the ways of “true Greeks”. In the initial years of war, Yaros was named as the Dachau of the Mediterranean. People were forced by the Greeks to build their own prison under unworthy conditions. In fact, many of the inmates died of hunger or from the heat. Right before the prison halls were completed, the Athens government had them shut down. The UN protested against brutality on the island; international outrage over the prison could not be quelled.
Because of this reason, the conservative government of those days stopped sending prisoners to the island. Instead, they started sending them across prisons on the Greek mainland. During the Regime of the Colonels between 1967 and 1974, the prison opened again. Women were sent there for the first time, and not even pregnant women were spared.
History Of The Island
The prisoners on the island also had famous prisoners like Ioannis Charalambopoulos, who later became a part of the foreign affairs in the socialist government, and the renowned Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos. The existence of a prison island in the Aegean Sea was denied by the military junta. German journalists, however, were able to expose the lies told by the Colonels. Reporters from weekly magazine Stern got the opportunity to fly over the island of Yaros and take pictures that flamed international outcry. Later on, the French magazine Paris Match was also able to succeed in doing the same
The regime was no longer able to deny the truth. Greece was banned from the Council of Europe for violating human rights because of the damning evidence from Yaros. Almost 22 people were buried in Yaros cemetery. This low number is because many prisoners close to death were taken to the nearby island of Syros. This was done so that the statistics did not cause much of a stir across media.
The island of the devil should have been made accessible to a broad public but this was not accomplished. This was a tricky situation to accomplish as there was no ferry connection to the island. The prison island actually used to be a restricted area; not even fisherman’s boats are allowed to land there. A halt to the Greek Navy’s exercises was forced on the island to protect the buildings that are already in a state of decay. From then onwards, a study was conducted by the Polytechneion – Technical University of Athens on improving the local infrastructure. This was done as the beautiful infrastructure was lost in the mills of Greek bureaucracy.
A Diver’s Paradise To Visitors
But now, it looks like the ball is rolling again. They have plans to turn the island into a nature conservation region and a diver’s paradise. This project is being supported by WWF, the world’s leading nature conservation organization as well as the Cyclades Life program. The seawater around Yaros is home to around 15% of unique Mediterranean monk seal species. It’s the world’s largest colony of monk seal species and conservation of this particular species is really important to maintain the island’s nature.
With really beautiful diving landscapes located close to the island’s coast, this is the right place for those looking at watersports. NATURA 2000 had protected this island site from 2011 and it is almost certain that the island will receive start-up funding from Europe.
How Did Tourism Begin?
The fact that no one visited Yaros for decades had a positive side effect in maintaining its nature. The unspoiled natural beauty of the island has become a refuge for many animal and bird species. It is also practical that the largest island in the Cyclades, Syros, is nearby. Finally, the residents of Syros are okay with the idea of soft tourism in Yaros by the end of March. Now, work has to be done in order to open the isle of the devil to visitors, and they can also learn about its historical past. Visitors can also enjoy the serenity and beauty of nature.
Greece has got so many islands like Mykonos or Santorini but visiting the secret prison island of Yaros will definitely turn out to be something unique! Reasons outnumbered for you to kick-start your bookings to the vibrant country. Greece will definitely be a delightful experience for you filled with adventure, luxury and tasteful experiences. This historical experience in Greece will also be something different as we all know Greece is a place filled with history and culture! Why not explore something different than most tourists?
We at Pickyourtrail make sure our best travel experience is put into planning your vacation with lots of excitement. Start customising your itinerary with the top highlights of Greece! You can craft your own itinerary with the help of travel experts on board with PickYourTrail! We are all set to unwrap your itinerary anytime as it is never too early to book your Greece vacation packages in advance! Start exploring and Happy travelling with your loved ones!