Kea or Tzia of a total area of 131 sq. km is the westernmost island of Cyclades complex and the closest to Central Greece.
Kea is mainly a mountainous island with beautiful bays, gulfs and beaches. The highest peak is Prophitis Ilias at an altitude of 568m. Its forests cover extent areas and are famous for the oaks, the flowers of peculiar beauty as the “Lilly of the sea”, the wild orchids, the pharmaceutical herbs, the aromatic bushes, the rare mushrooms etc.
Kea is an ideal place for hikers with paths, paved in their majority, of a total length of 36km
According to mythology the island’s cool climate, because of the nymphs that used to live next to fountains into its forests, changed into a warmer one when they abandoned it, chased by a lion. Aristeos, leader of Arcadians, arrived in Kea, offered sacrifices to Ikmeos Zeus, god of rain and since then cool north winds, known as meltemia, blow over the island for 40 days.
The island probably was named after the hero Keo, son of Apollo and the nymph Rodoessis, leader of Locrians from Nafpactos, who occupied it.
During Bronze Ages the residents developed the metalworking and until the end of the Mycenaean ages Kea was an important communication hub of significant economic and cultural growth (settlement of Aghia Irini).
During the Archaic period (7th-6th century BC) four cities were founded: Ioulis, Karthaia, Poiiessa and Korissia. The cities were independent administratively and economically. They were all surrounded by fortified walls and towers in vital areas and connected through a densely road network.
Many important persons of the antiquity spring from Kea like the intellectual Simonides, the poet Bacchylides, the doctor Erasistratus, sophists like Theramenes, Xenomedes, philosophers and others.
Kea had a particular political system which was described by Aristotle in his book “Keon Politeia”.
The legislator Aristides, one of the seven wise men of antiquity, came from Kea. A characteristic law was “Keon nomimon” according to which those that were at their 70s committed suicide by drinking hemlock after a farewell family feast as they believed to be no longer an asset to society. During the Byzantine ages Kea belonged to the Byzantine Empire and its main centre was Ioulis. Later it was conquered by Venetians and other Italian rulers. Afterwards, the island became part of the Ottoman Empire and regained its freedom during the Greek revolution in 1821.