Salamis Island

Salamis (/ˈsæləmɪs/ SAL-ə-miss; Greek: Σαλαμίνα, romanized: Salamína, Ancient and Katharevousa: Σαλαμίς, romanized: Salamís),[2] is the largest Greek island in the Saronic Gulf, about 1 nautical mile (2 km) off-coast from Piraeus and about 16 kilometres (10 miles) west of central Athens. The chief city, Salamina, lies in the west-facing core of the crescent on Salamis Bay, which opens into the Saronic Gulf. On the Eastern side of the island is its main port, Paloukia, in size second in Greece only to Piraeus, the port of Athens.


View of Salamina
Location within the region
Coordinates: 37°56′N 23°30′E
Administrative regionAttica
Regional unitIslands
  MayorIsidora Nannou (Ind.)
  Municipality96.16 km2 (37.13 sq mi)
  Municipality density410/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
189 xx
Area code(s)21
Vehicle registrationY


The traditional etymology of Salamis derives it from the eponymous nymph Salamis, the mother of Cychreus, the legendary first king of the island. A more modern theory considers "Salamis" to come from the root sal 'salt' and -amis 'middle'; thus Salamis would be the place amid salt water.[2] Some scholars connect it to the Semitic root Š-L-M 'health, safety, peace', because of the well-sheltered harbor.[3]

From at least the 13th century until the 19th century, the town, the island, and the bay of Salamis were called Koulouri (Κούλουρη),[4] because of its round shape (κόλουρο). The ancient name was revived in the 19th century.[5] The name Koulouri is still used informally for the town.


Salamis was probably first colonised by Aegina and later occupied by Megara, but became an Athenian possession in the time of Solon or Peisistratos, following the war between Athens and Megara around 600 BC.[6] According to Strabo, the ancient capital was at the south of the island; in classical times it was to the east, on the Kamatero Peninsula overlooking the Strait of Salamis; in modern times it is on the west.[7]

According to Homer's Iliad, Salamis took part in the Trojan War with twelve ships under the leadership of Ajax (Aias).[8]

Salamis island is known for the Battle of Salamis, the decisive naval victory of the allied Greek fleet, led by Themistocles, over the Persian Empire in 480 BC. It is said to be the birthplace of Ajax and Euripides, the latter's birth being popularly placed on the day of the battle. In modern times, it is home to Salamis Naval Base, headquarters for the Hellenic Navy.

The oldest known counting board was discovered on Salamis Island in 1899.[9] It is thought to have been used by the Babylonians in about 300 BC and is more of a gaming board rather than a calculating device. It is marble, about 150 cm × 75 cm × 4.5 cm (59 in × 30 in × 2 in), and has carved Greek symbols and parallel grooves.

During the German invasion of Greece in World War II, the harbor was bombed by the Luftwaffe on April 23, 1941, sinking the Greek battleships Kilkis and Lemnos.[10][11]

In the 1960s and 1970s, during the military junta period, changes in land legislation allowed the subdivision of land plots.[12] This opened the island to massive unplanned and unregulated urban and suburban development, including many weekend homes, especially along the northern and eastern coasts. The lack of corresponding investment in infrastructure, combined with heavy industry, has led to sea and beach pollution on this side of the island. There are, however, ongoing initiatives such as help from the European Union’s Cohesion Fund toward improving sewerage by 2008.[13]

An oil spill occurred off the coast of Salamis Island in September 2017.[14]


Salamis has an area of 36 square miles (93 km2); its highest point is Mavrovouni at 1,325 feet (404 metres). A significant part of Salamis Island is rocky and mountainous. On the southern part of the island a pine forest is located, which is unusual for western Attica. Unfortunately, this forest is often a target for fires.[13] While the inland inhabitants are mainly employed within the agricultural sector, the majority of Salamis' inhabitants work in maritime occupations (fishing, ferries, and the island's shipyards) or commute to work in Athens.[15][16] The maritime industry is focused on the north-east coast of the island at the port of Paloukia (Παλούκια), where ferries to mainland Greece are based, and in the dockyards of Ampelakia and the north side of the Kynosoura peninsula.

Salamis Island is very popular for holiday and weekend visits from Athens mainland; its population rises to 300,000 in peak season of which c. 31,000 are permanent inhabitants.[13] This supports a strong service industry sector, with many cafes, bars, ouzeries, tavernas and consumer goods shops throughout the island. On the south of the island, away from the port, there are a number of less developed areas with good swimming beaches including those of Aianteio, Maroudi, Perani, Peristeria, Kolones, Saterli, Selenia and Kanakia.[17]


Salamis Island belongs to the Islands regional unit of the Attica region. Since the 2011 local government reform the island is administered as one municipality. Before, the island was divided into two municipalities, that became municipal units at the reform:[18]

In the municipal unit of Salamina, which has a land area of 80.992 square kilometres (31.271 sq mi)[19] and a 2011 census population of 31,776, the chief population centre is the city of Salamina (also called Salamis, Salamis City or Koulouris, pop. 25,888 in 2011), consisting of the districts Alonia, Agios Minas, Agios Dimitrios, Agios Nikolaos, Boskos, Nea Salamina, Tsami and Vourkari. Its second-largest town is Aiánteio (pop. 5,888). In the municipal unit of Ampelakia, which has a land area of 15.169 square kilometres (5.857 sq mi)[19] and a population of 7,507, the largest towns are Ampelakia (pop. 4,998) and Selinia (2,509).


As of the mid-20th century, the majority of the inhabitants were Arvanite; a thing that changed during the past 20 years due to settlement of a lot of Athenians on the island to the degree that nowadays Arvanites are a fraction of the population, living mainly in Salamina town, Ampelakia and Moulki (Aianteion).[20] The island is known in Arvanitika as Κȣλλȣρι ("Koullouri").

YearSalamina (town)Salamina (municipal unit)Salamis (island)

Villages in the municipal unit of Salamina


Paloukia (Greek: Παλούκια, population 1,695) is located in the northeast of the island. Many ferryboats, fishing vessels and port police craft dock in this harbor. Paloukia is the base for the port police department of Salamina. Most visitors who come to Salamina first arrive at Paloukia via ferryboats that run between Paloukia and Perama or Piraeus.

The area is adjacent to the Salamis Naval Base (in Greek Nafstathmos), which is a major base of the Hellenic Navy.


Aianteio (Greek: Αιάντειο, population 4,860[21] as of March 16, 2011) is a large village in the southwestern part of Salamis Island and is named after Ajax, "King of the Salamis", from Homer's Iliad. The village was known as Moulki (Μούλκι) until 1915.[22] In the region, there are churches from the 11th and 12th centuries such as Saint John and Saint Dimitrios.

Interesting places to visit are:

  • the oldest church in the island, Saint John the "Kalyvitis", which dates back to the 10th century and has remarkable hagiographies
  • the monastery of Saint Nicolas which dates back to the 18th century and is situated in a forest.


Batsi (Greek: Μπατσί) is a little community (population 212) in the north of Salamis, in the municipality of Salamis, located at the foot of a piney mountain, about 6 to 8 km (4 to 5 mi) east of Megara.

In the mountain, there is a cave of archeological interest that has not been investigated yet. In the winter there are few tourists; it is more popular with vacationers from Athens during the summer months.

Kaki Vigla

Kaki Vigla (Greek: Κακή Βίγλα) is a small community (population 236) located at the south of Salamis Island, near Aianteio.

The beaches of Kaki Vigla are relatively clean and the area has pine and olive trees near the shore.

Agios Georgios

A new village, founded in 1960.


Peristeria (Greek: Περιστέρια, population 456) is a small village in the southeast of the island 45 km (28 mi) from Salamis City. It took its name from the bird of peace, the dove (Greek: περιστέρι), because it is a calm, peaceful and isolated place, away from the cars and from noise. Another interpretation says that its name may be derived from the doves which were living and had nests in the area.

The area has a marina, which has yachts and fishing boats. The beaches of Peristeria are the cleanest of Salamis. The village is near the Cave of Euripides, associated with the famous ancient playwright.

Psili Ammos

Psili Ammos (Greek: Ψιλή Άμμος, population 271), which means Fine Sand is so named because it is covered with sand. The area is located at the northwest of the island opposite of Elefsina. In the area there is one of the oldest landmarks, the chantry of Saint Grigorios (Saint Gregory).


Steno (Greek: Στενό, population 985), which means Narrow in Greek, is a small community in the northwest of Salamis Island. The area is separated from Fanaromeni Monastery by a hill with shrubs and pine trees. The area is adjacent to the bay of Agios Georgios. Steno has wide and well-planned roads.


Vasilika (Greek: Βασιλικά, population 4,264) which means Royal is a big village located in the northwest of the island. Vasilika is the third largest area in Salamis by population after Salamis City and Aianteio. Vasilika has a sandy large beach apt for swimming.


Xeno (Greek: Ξένο "foreign", population 786) is located in the northwest corner of the island. The area was so named because the first residents were not from Salamis but from nearby Piraeus.

Villages in the municipal unit of Ampelakia


Kynosoura (Greek: Κυνόσουρα) (Greek: κυνός-ουρά "dog's tail") is a small peninsula located in the east of the island. The name probably comes from the shape of the peninsula, long and thin and pointed at the end. In the south are a few houses (population 69). In the north are the remains of an ancient tumulus thought to be the burial site of Greek warriors in the Battle of Salamis. Nearby is a dockyard, which constructs and fixes ships including oil tankers and containers.


Selinia (Greek: Σελήνια, population 2.523) is a resort located a few kilometers southeast of Salamis city. Selinia is the weekend resort of many Athenians due to its proximity to Athens. Selinia also features restaurants and taverns.



Salamis island has eleven primary schools (ten public and one private), four high schools, and four lycees. The majority of students are proficient in school, and the pupils (above 13 years) usually have acquired diplomas and certificates in English, in French, or in German such as ECCE, FCE, CPE, and ECPE. Many students from Salamis island also possess many computer skills. Many students also study abroad in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the pupils went to Italy for studies since it was close to Greece.

Recreational areas

In Salamis Bay, a visitor can find many bars, cafeterias, beaches, and shops. The main cafeterias and bars are based in Agios Nikolaos, which is located in the western suburbs of Salamis city. The district is named for the church. Taverns and inns, which are located throughout the island, feature local food and dishes. The shops—which sell appliances, computers, clothing, souvenirs, and vehicles—are opened from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays; from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m to 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Clubs, activities and organizations

The cultural activities that take place and the cultural organizations that operate in Salamina include: a Museum of Folklore Art and History, a Public Municipal Library, a Drama Club "Euripides" and a Dance Group "Erevna". Also, regional, traditional and seasonal festivals are organized throughout the year, indicatively: the Annual Festival, "Salaminia" (to commemorate the Naval Battle of Salamis), the "Fisherman's Festival" and the Carnival.


Salamis island has four football teams: Aias (Ajax) Salaminas, Ampelakiakos F.C., A.E. Salaminas and Salaminomachoi.

Local newspapers and magazines



LandmarkYear of constructionLocation
Faneromeni Monastery15th centuryFaneromeni
Chantry of Saint Georgearound 1250Agios Georgios
Mycenaean city of Salamis13th century BCKanakia
Ancient city and port of Salamis5th – 1st centuries BCAmpelakia
Fighters tomb of the naval Battle of Salamis5th century BCAmpelakia, Kynosoura
Circular funerary4th century BCKolones
Euripideio Theatre1993in suburbs of Salamis City (in hill Patris)
Church of Saint Dimitrios1806center of Salamis City (in hononymous district)
The Cave of Euripides450 BCat south Salamis Island (near Peristeria)
The Cottage of Angelos Sikelianos1935Faneromeni
The Stone Lighthouse1901Peristeria
The bust of Georgios Karaiskakis1982center of Salamis City (in Vourkari district)
The Windmills19th centuryin suburbs of Salamis City (in a hill)
Chantry of Prophet Eliasearly of 20th centurySalamis City (in a stone hill)
Chantry of Saint Grygorios12th centuryPsili Ammos
The Stony small Theater1990Selinia
The City Hall of Salamis2000Salamis City
The Monastery of Saint Nicolaos17th centuryat south Salamis Island (near Kanakia)
The Church of Saint John the Kalyvitis11th centuryat south Salamis Island (near Kanakia)
The Folklore Museum2000lodging at Salamis City Hall
Archaeological museum of Salamis2013Salamis City
The Mansion of Galeos Family19th centuryat Salamis center (at Agios Minas district)
The Church of Saint Minas1869at Salamis City (at Agios Minas district)

Noted people

Mythological and ancient people

Modern people

Twin towns / sister cities

Salamis Island is twinned with Famagusta, Cyprus (1998)

See also


  1. "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.
  2. Bell, Robert E. (1988). Place Names in Classical Mythology: Greece. ABC-CLIO Ltd. ISBN 978-0-87436-507-8.
  3. Martin Bernal, Black Athena, p. 492
  4. William Miller, The Latins in the Levant, a history of Frankish Greece (1204–1566), New York, 1908, p. 18
  5. Peter Mackridge, Language and National Identity in Greece, 1766-1976, Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 22
  6. "Salamis", Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, Ed. John Roberts. Oxford University Press, 2007.
  7. Rossiter, Stuart; Benn, Ernest (1981). Greece – Blue Guide series.
  8. Homer. The Iliad.
  9. "salamis". Archived from the original on January 3, 2008.
  10. "Kilkis (Battleship, 1914–1941)". Naval Historical Center. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012.
  11. "Lemnos (Battleship, 1914–1941)". Naval Historical Center. Archived from the original on July 6, 2014.
  12. "One-sixth of houses are for vacation use". Kathimerini. April 19, 2006. Archived from the original on March 18, 2008.
  13. Polyxeni Athanassoulia (September 7, 2006). "Salamina, so near yet so unknown". Kathimerini. Archived from the original on March 18, 2008.
  15. "Salamis". Howstuffworks. Archived from the original on March 11, 2008.
  16. "Salamis official website". Archived from the original on February 22, 2009.
  17. "Salamina" (in Greek). Anatropes. Archived from the original on August 20, 2010.
  18. "Kallikratis law" (PDF) (in Greek). Greece Ministry of Interior.
  19. "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece.
  20. Jochalas, Titos P. (1971): Über die Einwanderung der Albaner in Griechenland: Eine zusammenfassene Betrachtung ["On the immigration of Albanians to Greece: A summary"]. München: Trofenik.
  21. "Settlements (Dímos Salamínas, Municipality)".
  22. "Name changes of settlements in Greece".
  23. Εφημερίδες & Περιοδικά (in Greek). Archived from the original on 30 April 2009.

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