Kefalonia - Cephallenia• Kefalonia is the sixth largest island of Greece, covering an area of 786 square km. It is the largest island in the Ionian Sea while it comes second as far as its population is concerned, since there are 36,527 inhabitants (census 2001). The capital of the prefecture Kefalonia and Ithaki is Argostoli, since 1757. The annexation of the Ionian Islands in Greece became on 21 May 1864. The island suffered severe damage from the powerful earthquake in 1953, when it was nearly leveled, but a few years later it was rebuilt by the residents and nowadays, it faces rapid development in tourism.• It is called the island of whimsy, due to the number of unusual events recorded on the island. The coastline which is 254km long, reveals a rich horizontal division. Strips of land penetrate the sea, forming the peninsulas of Palikis in the west side and of Elios-Pronni on the north side, where the sea forms broad bays. The main harbours are Sami, in front of Ithaki, and Argostoli, in the west, which was the ancient natural strategic naval base. The bays of Mirtos and of Athera in the north and Lourdata and Kateleiou in the south are known for their enchanting beaches that attract many visitors each year. The geological events of the island are the sinks, the cave of Drogarati and lake-cave of Melissani.
History - Legend• 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 awarded with the island of Same, which thereafter came to be known as Cephallenia.• Cephalonia 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 Cephalonia, was a separate island during the late Bronze Age, and it may be this that Homer was referring to when he described Ithaca. A project starting in the Summer of 2007, and lasting three years examines this possibility.• Cephalonia 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.
Archaeology• In the Southwest 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, Cephalonia 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 Cephalonia’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 Cephalonia (and in Greece) of the past twenty years was the discovery in 1991 of the Mycenaean tholos tomb at the outskirts of the village Tzanata, near Poros, Kefalonia in south-eastern Cephalonia (Municipality of Elios-Pronni) in a lovely setting of olive trees, cypresses and oaks. The tomb was erected around 1300 B.C, and kings and high ranked officials were buried in these tholos tombs during the Mycenaean period. It makes up the biggest tholos-tomb yet found in north-western Greece, and was excavated by the 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 excavations took place for the construction of a new hotel in Fiscardo. The remains here date to the period between the 2nd century B.C. and the 4th century A.D. Archaeologists described this as the most important find of its kind ever made 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 which 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 attentions of grave robbers and remained undisturbed for thousands of years. In a tribute to Roman craftsmanship, when the tomb was opened the stone door swung easily 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.
THE EARTHQUAKES OF 1953• Cephalonia is just to the east of a major tectonic fault, where the European plate meets the Aegean plate at a slip boundary. This is similar to the more famous San Andreas Fault. There are regular earthquakes along this fault.• A series of four earthquakes hit the island in August 1953, and caused major destruction, with virtually every house on the island destroyed. The third and most destructive of the quakes took place on August 12, 1953 at 09:24 UTC (11:24 local time), with a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale. Its epicentre was directly below the southern tip of Cephalonia, and caused the entire island to be raised 60 cm higher, where it remains, with evidence in water marks on rocks around the coastline.• This 1953 disaster caused huge destruction, with only regions in the north escaping the heaviest tremors and houses there remaining intact. Damage was estimated to run into tens of millions of dollars, equivalent to billions of drachmas, but the real damage to the economy occurred when residents left the island. An estimated 100,000 of the population of 125,000 left the island soon after, seeking a new life elsewhere.
Melissani Cave• Melissani Cave (Greek: Μελισσάνη) or Melissani Lake, also Melisani is a Greek cave located on the island of Kefalonia, northwest of Sami, about 5 km SE of Agia Efthymia, NE of Argostoli and NW of Poros. The Ionian Sea lies to the east with the Strait of Ithaca. Forests surrounds the cave and the mountain slope is to the west. Near the cave is the entry to the cave with parking lots and is passed almost in the middle of the main road linking Sami and Agia Efimia especially to the northern part of the island.• In Greek mythology, Melissani was the cave of the nymphs. The cave features a lake that are surrounded with trees and forests. The cave is located east of the mountains of Evmorfia and Agia Dynati. Tourism is common in the cave.• The cave features a sky-blue lake covered with stones at the bottom. the depth is thin. Plants are at the door of the cave. The color of the rocks which are stucco to honey-like brown is at the door of the cave. The lake is also inside the cave.• The cave was rediscovered in 1951 by Giannis Petrocheilos.