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Psara (Municipality, Greece)


Last modified: 2015-08-10 by ivan sache
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Flag of Psara - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 4 February 2015

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Presentation of Psara

The municipality of Psara (458 inhabitants in 2011; 4,451 ha) is made of the island of the same name, and of the uninhabited islaet of Antipsara, located near the island of Chios, off the western coast of Turkey.
The municipality was not modified with the 2011 local government reform.

Psara has been inhabited since the Mycenaean period, its inhabitants relying on the sea to make a living as the island is a treeless and rocky with little shrubbery. Homer first referred to the island as Psyra.
Psara joined the Greek War of Independence on 18 April 1821. On 8 September 1822, the joint fleets from Hydra, Psara and Spetses defeated the Ottoman Navy near Spetses.
The island was invaded on 21 June 1824 by the Ottoman navy. On 4 July the resistance of the Psariots ended with a last stand at the town's old fort of Palaiokastro. Hundreds of soldiers and also women and children had taken refuge there when a Turkish force of 2000 stormed the fort. The refugees first threw a white flag with the words Ἐλευθερία ἤ Θάνατος (Freedom or Death). Then, the moment the Turks entered the fort, the local Antonios Vratsanos lit a fuse to the gunpowder stock, in an explosion that killed the towners along with their enemies - thus remaining faithful to their flag to their death. A part of the population managed to flee the island, but those who did not were either sold into slavery or killed.

Ivan Sache, 4 February 2015

Flag of Psara

The municipality uses different flags (photo) derived from the historical flag of Psara, with variations in the colors (green serpent and yellow bird or all red) and in the position of the words.

Historical flag of Psara

[Flag of Psara]

Flag of Psara - Image modified from [k7k97] by Eugene Ipavec, 24 November 2009

According to the book Hellenic flags [k7k97], the flag used in Psara during the Greek War of Independence is white with a red border, a red cross over a big crescent and a small star. On the cross' left is a red anchor "fouled" with a green snake whose tongue is biten by a yellow owl; in the cross' right is a red spear. The whole is flanked by the motto "ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ Η ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ" (Freedom or Death) in red letters.

As explained in the Naval Museum of Chania (Crete), the cross stands for Christendom (Greece), the crescent for Islam (Turkey), the snake for wisdom, knowledge and reason, the anchor for stability, the spear for power and the bird for the help from God.
The combination of these elements probably represents the resurrection of the Greek nation: the cross overpowers the crescent moon. To bring about a successful fight however power (the spear) was required, as well as stability and perseverance (anchor), knowledge and wisdom (snake), and God's help through faith and religion (bird).

Bruce Tindall & Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999