The island of Kefalonia in Greece is truly a gem that charms all who come to spend their holidays here.Is a very big island and for this reason it's able to satisfy every kind of tourist, from the most active, to those who dream of a relaxing stay.
Kefalonia will make special your stay in Greece, fascinating you with its clear sea with wonderful colors, with its hidden coves, its caves, its picturesque villages and its breathtaking views.Here in Kefalonia the sea is really gorgeous, but your vacation can reserve you pleasant surprises such as scenic walks in the countryside, visits to particular geological phenomena and the discovery of a long history.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece, and has a size of 773 km2(300 mi2), with a population density of 55 people per km2 (140/mi2). The capital Argostoli has one-third of the island's inhabitants. Lixouri is the second major settlement, and the two towns together account for almost two-thirds of the prefecture's population.
The other major islands are: Petalas Island, Asteris Island, but they are uninhabited.
Important natural features include Melissani Lake, the Drogarati caves, and the Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli.
The island has a rich biodiversity, with a substantial number of endemic and rare species. Some areas have been declared a site in the European Union’s Natura 2000 network.
The island's highest mountain is Mount Ainos, with an elevation of 1628 meters; to the west-northwest are the Paliki mountains, where Lixouri is found, with other mountains including Geraneia (Gerania) and Agia Dynati. The top of Mount Ainos is covered with fir trees and is a natural park.
Forestry is rare on the island; however its timber output is one of the highest in the Ionian islands, although lower than that of Elia in the Peloponnese.
Most of the Ainos mountain range is designated as a National Park and is covered with the unique species of Greek fir (Abies Cephalonica) and black pine (Pinus nigra).
Kefalonia is well known for its endangered loggerhead turtle population which nest on many beaches along the south coast of the island. A small population of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, also lives around the island's coast, especially on parts of the coast which are inaccessible to humans due to the terrain. Caves on these parts of the coast offer ideal locations for the seals to give birth to their pups and nurse them through the first months of their lives.
The European pine marten is known to live on the island.
Over 200 species of birds have been spotted on the island.
Kefalonia has hot, sunny summers and mild rainy winters. During winter it can occasionally snow in the mountains of the island. It is very wet in the wettest month of December when 115 mm of rain can fall. Conversely, it can be very dry in July when usually there is no or little rainfall. Rain in the summer can usually be seen, but the dry air prevents it from being felt as it is evaporated before it reaches the ground.
An aition explaining the name of Cephallenia and reinforcing its cultural connections with Athens associates the island with the mythological figure of Cephalus, who helped Amphitryon of Mycenae in a war against the Taphians and Teleboans. He was rewarded with the island of Same, which thereafter came to be known as Cephallenia.
Kefalonia has also been suggested as the Homeric Ithaca, the home of Odysseus, rather than the smaller island bearing this name today. Robert Bittlestone, in his book Odysseus Unbound, has suggested that Paliki, now a peninsula of Kefalonia, was a separate island during the late Bronze Age, and it may be this which Homer was referring to when he described Ithaca. A project which started in the Summer of 2007 and lasted three years has examined this possibility.
Kefalonia is also referenced in relation to the goddess Britomartis, as the location where she is said to have 'received divine honours from the inhabitants under the name of Laphria'.
In the southwestern portion of the island, in the area of Leivatho, an ongoing archaeological field survey by the Irish Institute at Athens has discovered dozens of sites, with dates ranging from the Palaeolithic to the Venetian period.
From an archaeological point of view, Kefalonia is an extremely interesting island. Archaeological finds go back to 40,000 BP. Without doubt, the most important era for the island is the Mycenaean era, from approximately 1500–1100 B.C. The archaeological museum in Kefalonia’s capital, Argostoli – although small – is regarded as the most important museum in Greece for its exhibits from this era.
The most important archaeological discovery in Kefalonia (and indeed in Greece) of the past twenty years is that, in 1991, of the Mycenaean tholos tomb at the outskirts of Tzanata, near Poros in southeastern Kefalonia (Municipality of Elios-Pronni) in a lovely setting of olive trees, cypresses and oaks. The tomb was erected around 1300 B.C; kings and highly ranked officials were buried in such tombs during the Mycenaean period. It constitutes the largest tholos tomb yet found in northwestern Greece and was excavated by archaeologist Lazaros Kolonas. The size of the tomb, the nature of the burial offerings found there, and its well-chosen position point to the existence of an important Mycenaean town in the vicinity.
In late 2006, a Roman grave complex was uncovered as the foundation of a new hotel was being excavated in Fiskardo. The remains date to the period between the 2nd century BC and the 4th century AD. Archaeologists described it as the most important find of its kind in the Ionian Islands. Inside the complex, five burial sites were found, including a large vaulted tomb and a stone coffin, along with gold earrings and rings, gold leaves that may have been attached to ceremonial clothing, glass and clay pots, bronze artefacts decorated with masks, a bronze lock, and bronze coins. The tomb had escaped the attention of grave robbers and remained undisturbed for thousands of years. In a tribute to Roman craftsmanship, when the tomb was opened, the stone door easily swung on its stone hinges. Very near to the tomb, a Roman theatre was discovered, so well preserved that the metal joints between the seats were still intact.
A dissertation published in 1987 claims that St. Paul, on his way from Palestine to Rome in AD 59, was shipwrecked and confined for three months not on Malta but on Kefalonia.According to Clement of Alexandria, the island had the largest community of Carpocratians, an early Gnostic Christian sect, because Carpocrates lived on the island.
During the Middle Ages, the island was the center of the Byzantine theme of Cephallenia. After 1185 it became part of the County palatine of Kephalonia and Zakynthos under the Kingdom of Sicily until its last Count Leonardo III Tocco was defeated and the island conquered by the Ottomans in 1479.
The Turkish rule lasted only until 1500, when Kefalonia was captured by a Spanish-Venetian army, a rare Venetian success in the Second Ottoman–Venetian War. From then on Kefalonia and Ithaca remained overseas colonies of the Venetian Republic until its very end, following the fate of the Ionian islands, completed by the capture of Lefkas from the Turks in 1684. The Treaty of Campoformio dismantling the Venetian Republic awarded the Ionian Islands to France, a French expeditionary force with boats captured in Venice taking control of the islands in June 1797.
In 1596 the Venetians built the Assos Castle, one of Kefalonia's main tourist attractions today. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, the island was one of the largest exporters of currants in the world with Zakynthos, and owned a large shipping fleet, even commissioning ships from the Danzig shipyard. Its towns and villages were mostly built high on hilltops, to prevent attacks from raiding parties of pirates that sailed the Ionian Sea during the 1820s.
French, Ionian state period and British Rule
Venice was conquered by France in 1797 and Kefalonia, along with the other Ionian Islands, became part of the French départment of Ithaque. In the following year the French were forced to yield the Ionian Islands to a combined Russian and Turkish fleet. From 1799 to 1807, Kefalonia was part of the Septinsular Republic, nominally under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, but protected by Russia.
By the Tilsit Treaty in 1807, the Ionian Islands were ceded back to France, which remained in control until 1809. Then Great Britain mounted a blockade on the Ionian Islands as part of the war against Napoleon, and in September of that year they hoisted the British flag above the castle of Zakynthos. Kefalonia and Ithaca soon surrendered, and the British installed provisional governments. The treaty of Paris in 1815 recognised the United States of the Ionian Islands and decreed that it become a British protectorate. Colonel Charles Philippe de Bosset became provisional governor between 1810 and 1814. During this period he was credited with achieving many public works, including the Drapano Bridge.
A few years later resistance groups started to form. Although their energy in the early years was directed to supporting the Greeks in the revolution against the Turks, it soon started to turn towards the British. By 1848 the resistance movement was gaining strength and there were skirmishes with the British Army in Argostoli and Lixouri, which led to some relaxation in the laws and to freedom of the press. Union with Greece was now a declared aim, and by 1850, a growing restlessness resulted in even more skirmishes. Kefalonia, along with the other islands, were transferred to Greece in 1864 as a gesture of goodwill when the British-backed Prince William of Denmark became King George the First of the Hellenes.
Union with Greece
In 1864, Kefalonia, together with all the other Ionian Islands, became a full member of the Greek state.
World War II
In World War II, the island was occupied by Axis powers. Until late 1943, the occupying force was predominantly Italian - the 33rd Infantry Division Acqui plus Navy personnel totaled 12,000 men - but about 2,000 troops from Germany were also present. The island was largely spared the fighting, until the armistice with Italy concluded by the Allies in September 1943. Confusion followed on the island, as the Italians were hoping to return home, but German forces did not want the Italians' munitions to be used eventually against them; Italian forces were hesitant to turn over weapons for the same reason. As German reinforcements headed to the island the Italians dug in and, eventually, after a referendum among the soldiers as to surrender or battle, they fought against the new German invasion. The fighting came to a head at the siege of Argostoli, where the Italians held out. Ultimately the Germans prevailed, taking full control of the island. Approximately five thousand of the nine thousand surviving Italian soldiers were executed in reprisal by the German forces. The book Captain Corelli's Mandolin (which was later made into a film of the same name), is based on this story. While the war ended in central Europe in 1945, Kefalonia remained in a state of conflict due to the Greek Civil War. Peace returned to Greece and the island in 1949.
The Great earthquake of 1953
A series of four earthquakes hit the island in August 1953, and caused major destruction, with most of the houses on the island destroyed. However, regions in the north escaped the heaviest tremors and houses there remained intact. In the years that followed, reconstruction and economic development have restored the island to its former state.
Tourists from all over Greece, Europe and the world visit Kephalonia. It is a popular vacation destination for many Italians, due to its proximity to Italy. As one of the largest islands in Greece, it is well-equipped to handle the influx of tourists during the summertime and it has something to offer to everyone.
Two cultural attractions, the picturesque fishing villages of Fiscardo and Assos, and various natural attractions, including Melissani underground lake, Drogarati cave and Myrtos beach, have helped popularize Cephalonia. The film, Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001), shot on the island itself, made Cephalonia more widely known.
The coastline of the island of Kefalonia measures about 254 km. Its spectacular beaches are among the largest, most picturesque and cleanest in all Greece.
The coasts of Kefalonia offer a true paradise for lovers of sandy beaches, and beautiful bays ideal for snorkeling.
Kefalonia offers both beaches for tourists, and inlets where one can relax and find peace even in August.
Some of the beautiful beaches on Kefalonia are Assos, Agios Nikolaos, Ai Helis, Antisamos, Ammes, Foki Fiskardo, Katelios,,Lourdata, Makris Gialos, Myrtos, , Minies, Petani, Platis Gialos, Platia Ammos, Poros, Sami, Skala , Trapezaki, Xi, etc.
Beaches are presented with detailed text, map, photos and information on how to get there.
Details at the url http://www.greeka.com/ionian/kefalonia/kefalonia-beaches-2.htm
DISCOVER THE TRADITIONAL CUISINE OF KEFALONIA
Kefalonia promises to offer you an unforgettable gastronomic experience, offering dishes using fresh ingredients. There are many dining options. There are luxurious restaurants, traditional Greek taverns and “mezedopolia”, as well as restaurants specializing in international cuisine, such as Italian, Indian, and Chinese.
In many local restaurants you can find a great range of unusual starters: spetzofai (a stew of sausage, green pepper and tomato sauce), tirokafteri (a satisfyingly fiery version of the standard dip of feta cheese and red-hot chilli peppers) and aliada (the Kefalonian take on skordalia, garlicky mashed potato).
As for main courses, a mouthwatering list of specialties includes the island’s trademark kreatopita (Kefalonian mixed-meat pie, wrapped in a special pastry), local chicken sausage made with wild marjoram, beef sofigido (a stew with a thick sauce of tomatoes, wine and cloves, similar to the better-known stifado, but made in the oven, and wild-rabbit tagato, cooked in tomato and garlic sauce, and served with lemon juice. And of course wherever you go, you can always enjoy delicious fresh fish and seafood.
There’s also a good selection of local cheeses, which include mizithra (a ricotta-like cheese) and kefalotiri (a hard full-fat cheese), alongside an impressive list of fine Kefalonian wines.
Robola is Kefalonia’s best-known home-grown tipple, a dry honey-coloured wine traditionally presented in bottles wrapped in hessian and sporting a wax medallion on the front. Robola grapes are farmed only in a designated area in the Omala valley, around the foothills of Mount Aenos, and more than 70 per cent of the harvest is bottled at Omala’s Robola Co-operative, named after the patron saint of the island. Try combining a trip to the co-operative with a visit to the Saint Gerasimos monastery (now a convent), only 400m away – an oasis surrounded by rose gardens and flooded with birdsong.
Argostoli, the island’s capital, is less than half an hour’s drive from the monastery and a great place to drop by for a fix of Kefalonia’s other key gourmet attraction. Kefalonians are notoriously sweet-toothed, and wickedly sticky cakes of the region include syrup-soaked karidopita (walnut cake), amygdalopita (almond cake) and galaktoboureko (chilled custard in filo pastry). Feast on delicious home-baking or snack on the island’s characteristic mandoles (sugared almonds with red colouring) while sipping locally made lemonade (spitiko) or almond squash (soumada) in the numerous cafes and pastry shops of the town.