Information about the island of Kefalonia
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece with an area of 350 sq. miles. Location: 20°30' E, and between 38°12' and 38°18' N.
Kefalonia gets its name from the mythic hero Kefalos (Cephalus). He was son of Deion (ruler of Phocis) and Diomede. He lead an army expedition of Attika against the Teleboans or Taphians (Paphians, Pafioi) who were the original inhabitants of Kefalonia. Once winning the war Kefalos became the first ruler of Kefalonia. He supposedly built four cities, during his reign, named after his four sons. These were Sami, Pronoi, Pali and Krani. These names can be found in Kefalonia until today (the harbor-town Sami, the Municipality of Paliki etc.). They were completely autonomous with their own currency and even disagreed on which side to fight in the Peloponnesian wars. That is why Kefalonia was known as Tetrapolis (four cities) in mythic ages. Kefalonia also used be called the black mountain in ancient times due to the fact that ships sailing by Kefalonia would witness a black mass rising into the heavens. That used to be Mount Ainos which seemed to be black due to its dense vegetation.
The first human traces on Kefalonia come from the Middle Paleolithic Age at around 50.000 B.C. It is believed that Kefalonia was an important center during the Mycenean period according to findings on the island including those at the Mazarakata Tombs.
Kefalonia first came under foreign rule in 187 BC when the Romans invaded. They would use Kefalonia to launch their attack on mainland Greece. From there on Kefalonia followed the fate of the Roman and Byzantine empire until the end of it around the 11th century. It then came under various rules like the Franks, Normans, Orsinis, Adeans, Toccans, and Turkish until it came under the control of the Venetians. It first fell to the Norman Roger II in 1185 AD, in 1204 AD it came unter the command of the Franks (Orsini, Adegani and Toki), in 1479 AD it fell to Turkish hands of Ahmed Pasha only to pass to Venetian dominance in 1500 until 1797. It then came under French control to pass under Russian-Turkish alliance until shortly after in 1809 the British take over. Finaly Kefalonia became a part of Greece in 1863.
In 1757 the capital was moved from the St George castle to Argostoli. In 1953, shortly after the WII occupation, an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale devastated the island destroying most buildings apart from the very North area of Fiskardo.
Argostoli is the capital of Kefalonia and probably the busiest place on
the island. All the main shopping is usually done in Argostoli and most
of the nightlife can be found there. If one is looking for banks, any public/governmental
facility department or office, specialty stores, clothe shops and nightclubs
Argostoli is usually the place to go. Don’t imagine any big city with
a busting day/night life but it is the busiest.
There is a big pedestrian street called Lithostrotos where one can find all sorts of shops, facilities and cafes to refresh oneself and watch the others do the walking instead. On one end of the Lithostrotos is the main square which hosts again an array of café/bars and restaurants. One can also find a great number of facilities along the coastal road as the daily market, butchers, fishmongers etc. but also many of them are scattered across this small town.
Mountain Ainos is the highest mountain of the Ionian Islands (1,628 meters). Its highest peak is called the Megas Soros. It was declared as a National Nature Reserve by the Greek government in 1962. It is unique in two ways. First it is the home to a unique fir tree and secondly the horses of Ainos, a genus of the Pindos horse that are small, strong and have a great powers of endurance. The range is covered by extensive fir forests of these unique species to Greece known as the Cephalonian fir(Abies cephalonica). The horses can be found mainly in the area around the Monastery of Zoodoxou Pigis (due to a water source that can be found close by) although being threatened by extinction makes them a rather rare sight. The entire mountain range has a length of 10km.
Lake Mellisani is a truly remarkable natural phenomenon that is definetely worth a visit. It is located 2km from Sami in the village of Karavomilos. Lake Mellisani is actually an underground lake that is shaped in a B form. On one side the roof has colapsed allowing the light to illuminate the wonderful scenery. In ancient times a part of the cave lent itself to the performance of rites connected with the worship of Pan and the Nymphs. If Mellisani is seen one can easily understand why this place was chosen.