Paxos may be small (it’s barely 7 miles long and 3 miles wide) yet it does attract its fair share of attention. Known among a group of devotees as one of the sparkling jewels among the Greek islands, it has attracted a steady stream of visitors since the Greek tourism boom of the 1970s. Reaching Paxos itself is something of an adventure. Too small to have its own airport visitors instead fly into neighbouring Corfu and take a ferry over to the island.
The population of Paxos is a mere 2,500, scattered among the few settlements around the coast (you’d have to try hard to be more than a mile from the coast). Yet even on such a small island there are 30 beaches, most of which are made up of small white pebbles and clear turquoise waters. It’s a place to get away from the pace of everyday life and pass the days relaxing and enjoying fine fresh food.
The island has gone by the name of Paxos for many centuries, yet in true Greek fashion no-one can agree on where this name originated.
Some credit the Phoenicians, whose word ‘paks’ translates as slate, a material that is found in plentiful supply on the island.
Others suggest that the original inhabitants of the island were shipped over from the settlement of Paxous on Sicily. They adopted the name in memory of their old home. This suggestion is probably not such a popular one.
The Greek expression ‘paksosas thyras’ meaning closed doors, might offer an alternative clue as to the origins of the name. If you take a look at the harbour in the main settlement of Gaios, it is indeed a closed harbour and some credit this geographical oddity for the naming of the island.
Others still consider the word as a corruption of the word for flagstone. These were quarried on the island and shipped to the mainland many centuries ago.
Paxos – a rich history
As with all the best arguments there is no right or wrong answer and people will believe whichever version they prefer. But even these different possible origins provide a clue into the rich and varied history of this island. From Phoenicians to Venetians, from the Romans to the British, the island has known many rulers and has served as an important staging post in the wider battles of the Adriatic and Ionian Sea.
The origins of Paxos itself belong to a very colourful legend, with Poseidon himself being credited for breaking a little piece of Corfu with his trident to create a little haven for his sweetheart.
We’ll take a look at the history in more detail soon, but whoever has been in charge of Paxos it’s hard to believe that they weren’t enchanted by the island’s beauty and natural charm.
For more information about holidays on Paxos visit our site and take a look at some of superb villas available to enjoy on island.
by Andy Jarosz