Life in Kefalonia

 Why Kefalonia in the first place?

Kefalonia Island

Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands and sixth largest island in Greece, with an area of 688.8 square km and a coastline spanning 254 km. It is located between the islands of Lefkada and Zakynthos. To the northeast of Kefalonia lies the island of Ithaki or Ithaca, which together with Kefalonia form the Prefecture of Kefalonia& Ithaca.
The largest town and capital of Kefalonia is Argostoli. The population of the island is around 32.000. The main sectors of the island’s economy are wine making, agriculture, stock breeding, fishing and tourism. The tourism sector is experiencing rapid but mild development which ensures that the island’s extravagant natural beauty is left unsettled.
A dense road network covering the whole island provides access to the over 200 villages of Kefalonia. Most of Kefalonia’s villages have a unique charm and traditional color and are well worth exploring.
Diversity and contrast in the landscape, lush hillsides and plains, rugged mountains, deep clear turquoise sea, golden sandy beaches, dreamy water caves, wild natural beauty, rare flora and fauna, significant archaeological sites, historical monuments, charming chapels and traditional settlements offer the necessary variety for unforgettable holidays.

History in Brief

According to myth the island of Kefalonia was named after its first king, King Kefalos - who had married the daughter of the hero-king Thesseus- and came to Kefalonia in exile because he had killed his wife. Odysseus, the resourceful and ingenious hero of Homer, was Kefalos' descendant.

Archaeologists and history researchers, based on findings of fossiled bones of huge mammals in the island of Kefalonia, have concluded that during the Prehistoric Era the level of the water was 100 m. lower and the island communicated by land with other islands and coasts of the Ionian Sea. The earliest evidence of human life on the island of Kefalonia dates back to the Paleolithic Era.

King Kefalos founded the four ancient cities of the island and named them after his four sons: Sami, Palli, Krani and Pronni. That is the reason why the island was called Tetrapolis (Tetra+Polis=four towns). During ancient times the four cities of Kefalonia were autonomous with their own regimes and coins.
The island of Kefalonia participated in the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, supporting both Sparta and Athens.

In 218 B.C. the island was attacked the Macedonian King Philip who was defeated by the Athenians who supported Kefalonia’s defense.

In 187 B.C., the Romans conquered the island after months of confrontations with local inhabitants. The Romans wanted the island as a strategic base in their campaign to conquer the mainland and thus made Kefalonia an important naval base. During this period in history, Kefalonia was constantly threatened by invaders and pirate raids.

During the Byzantine period, from the 4th century A.D., the island was still under the threat of North African pirate raids (Saracens), but the Byzantine Empire played an important role in the defense of the island against pirates.

After the end of the Byzantine era (11th century), the island fell under Frankish rule and was successively conquered by Normans, Orsinis, Andegans, and Toccans.

Around 1480, the island received the first Turkish attacks, led by the famous Ahmed Pasha. The Turkish ruled for a short period and left the island desolated. Later, Kefalonia, as all the Ionian Islands, fell under the rule of the Venetians and the Spanish who violated the treaty verifying Turkish domination upon the island.

During this period, St. George’s Fortress was the island’s political and military capital. In 1757 the capital was moved to Argostoli as coastal areas became more significant due to the development of trade, and because the threats from pirate attacks from the sea were no longer a threat.

The Venetian Rule ended in 1797 and the island was subsequently occupied by the French, who were the warmly welcomed by the inhabitants as Napoleon made them believe that he would liberate the Ionian Islands from the oligarchic system.

The official book describing the name and privileges of the nobles (Libro D’oro) was publicly burnt. In the years that followed, the allied fleet of the Russians, the Turks and the English defeated the French. In 1800, the ''Ionian State'' was founded in Constantinople under the Sultan’s supervision and the island's nobles gained their privileges back.

In 1802, after popular demand, democratic elections took place on the island and a new Constitution was established in 1803.

In 1807, the island fell again under French rule and the new Constitution was maintained.

In 1809, the Ionian Islands came officially under control of the British after the Treaty of Paris which established the ''United States of the Ionians Islands''.

During this period, the island was enriched with important constructions of public interest.

Although Kefalonia remained under British rule, the islanders participated in the Greek Revolution of Independence of 1821 against the Turks who then ruled the majority of Greek territories.

Kefalonia, along with the other Ionian Islands, was finally reunified with Greece in 1864.

In 1941, during World War II, the island was occupied by Italian troops. In 1943, after Italy's capitulation, Italian troops refused to withdraw from the island and this led to the massacre of more than 12000 Italian soldiers by the German forces.

Athens Office: 78 Marathon Street 16673 Panorama, Voula
Tel & Fax: (0030) 210 89 95 499, Mobile: (0030) 6944 344 683, (0030) 6977 090 163
Kefalonia Office: Mavrata Village 28082, Tel & Fax: (0030) 26710 81618, E-mail: divacasa@hol.gr