The island was known in antiquity under various similar names. Homer is the first to mention it under the name “Psyrii” in the Odyssey. It is also referred to by Strabo as “Psyra”.
In Psara, archaeological excavations have brought to light findings of human activity from the Neolithic period (5th-4th millennium BC), with a peak period of prosperity in the late Bronze Age (14th-12th century BC). From the prehistoric period, graves have been found where it appears that people were buried in a fetal position. Pieces of buildings and artefacts from the Hellenistic and Roman periods have also been found. No acropolis or defensive works have been found, which is attributed to the many reefs that naturally protect the island.
Psara was generally an insignificant island strategically and barren. During long periods in its history, it remained almost uninhabited. After the fall of Constantinople, it was deserted for fear of pirate attacks. Later families from Euboea, Thessaly, Magnesia and Chios moved there, because the island was small and unknown so the inhabitants could live there freely. Then the old fortress of Paleokastro was rebuilt to give the inhabitants security from pirates. The population increased and a large village was built around the castle.
Before the Revolution of 1821 the island was third in naval power (with over 45 ships) after Hydra and Spetses.
Psara was one of the first islands to rise up against the Turkish yoke, on April 10, 1821 and at Easter they raised their revolutionary flag (white with red). Psara is mainly known for the great destruction it suffered in 1824, during the national liberation struggle against the Turks. The destruction of Psara inspired the painting ‘The Glory of Psara’ by Nikolaos Gyzis, the ode by Andreas Kalvos and the epigram by Dionysios Solomos. On 21 June 1824, Egyptian forces led by Ibrahim occupied the island. The most tragic historical moment of Psara was the holocaust of Mavri Rachi on 22 June 1824, when the town of Psara fell into Turkish hands. About five hundred Psarians ran to Paliokastro (Black Ridge) and locked themselves in the small fortress to fall fighting. After realizing that there was no salvation, they decided to blow up the powder magazine in order to avoid being taken prisoner. Those Psarians who survived the destruction fled to Monemvasia and Eretria in Evia, which was renamed “Nea Psara”.
The destruction of Psara in the Holocaust of 1824 shocked Europe and was a crucial point in the struggle for independence, as it moved the Europeans.
On October 21, 1912 they were incorporated into Greece.
The sights of the island are Paleokastro and the hill of Mavris Rachi, with the monument of the massacre. The commemoration of the Holocaust of Psara is commemorated every year on the last Sunday of June and becomes an occasion for festive and cultural events. Psara was also the home of the protagonist of the Greek Revolution and later Prime Minister of Greece K. Kanaris.
The island is famous for its almond cakes (amygdalota) and its bitter almond sweet. Also the honey is famous for its quality.