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Hydra

History

Hydra experienced only the light hand of an overstretched Ottoman influence. Consequently the island prospered. Enterprising Greeks from the Peloponnese settled here to escape Turkish repression and taxes on the mainland. Agriculture was difficult, so these new settlers began building boats and took to the thin line between maritime commerce and piracy. By the 19th century, Hydra had become a substantial maritime power, earning itself the ambivalent sobriquet of ‘Little England’. From considerable profits, wealthy shipping merchants built most of the town’s grand old mansions. During the Greek War of Independence, Hydra supplied 130 ships for a blockade of the Turks. It also supplied leaders such as Georgios Koundouriotis, who was president of the emerging Greek nation’s national assembly from 1822 to 1827, and Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, who commanded the Greek fleet. Streets and squares all over Greece are named after these two.