Astypalea was first inhabited by Kares who, due to the color of its land (red soil), named the island Pyrha (the Greek word for Fire). Later, the island was renamed into aktirooms, either due to the name of one of its conquerors or most likely due to the many portals (in Greek ‘Pyles’, namely the bays and coves around the island).
In the ancient times, Astypalea was famous for the richness of its soil, the many colorful flowers, the variety of fruit trees, its agriculture, and its famous honey. Consequently, it was rightly called the Bank of the Gods. The Romans in turn used to call the island Ichthyoessa because of the wealth of its seas, and the excellent quality of its sponges.
Its current name as Astypalea (in Greek it means old city) emerged from the Phoenicians who had the island as their trading post. Another version for the origin of its name speaks for the inhabitants of an old town in Kos called Astypalea, who after its destruction from an earthquake, moved to this island and gave the name of their old homeland.
The 13th and 14th AD century, the island was renamed into Astynea by the Venetian family of Quirines who ruled the island for three centuries, and their descendants as a remembrance of their former glory, hold the title and sign as Quirini-Stampaglia. The island was later named Astropalia either in a symbolic way to highlight its glory and shine during dark time or simply for the splendid spectacle of unique starry sky during moonless nights.
Locals love both names (Astypalea and Astropalia) and liked to be addressed as Astypalites or Astropalites.