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Ithaca: The island of Odysseus

Ithaca


Ithaca is an island of the Ionian Sea, one of the Eptanissa group of islands, belonging to the prefecture of Kefalonia. It lies south of Lefkada and northeast of Kefalonia. It is the island of Odysseus the Cunning, the hero of the epic poem of Homer, and its name has become a symbol of yearning for home.

The large variety of natural landscapes Ithaca has to offer, the harmonious coexistence of green mountains with the excellent beaches, the dense vegetation , the turquoise waters of the Ionian, the picturesque traditional villages and the interesting archaeological monuments, make the island a pole of attraction for Greeks and foreigners, mostly those looking for a quiet holiday.

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The capital town and main port of the island is the picturesque traditional town of Ithaca, also known as Vathy. In the entrance of the port a very beautiful natural bay encircles the small island of Sotira, also known as Lazaretto, where the church of “Metamorphosi” (Metamorphosis of Christ) is located. On the top of the hill, overlooking the town of Vathy, rises the castle built in 1807 by the French, on a location with great view.

Ithaca Attractions & Surrounding Area

During the big earthquakes of 1953 the town suffered serious damage. However, it was rebuilt following the same traditional style of Eptanissa, without losing its historical look. Here you can see some important archaeological monuments.

It is worth visiting the house of the hero of the Greek revolution of 1821 Odysseus Androutsos, the Theatrical Municipal Library with more than 1200 books and the Library of the Cultural Centre with a collection of rare books, among them a rare publication of Oddysey and Heliad of Homer in Japanese.

The island of Ithaca is strewn with a large number of old churches with excellent mural paintings and icons. You should visit the refurbished Metropolitan Church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) in Linovrochia, with the excellent wood carved chancel screen of post-Byzantine art, the church of Anogi, also devoted to Panagia (Virgin Mary), with a Byzantine style decoration, which has been declared as a protected historical monument, and the Monastery “Katharon”, built around 1696, from the bell tower of which one can admire a marvellous view. Panagia (Virgin Mary) “Kathariotissa” is the patron of the island.

On the island of Ithaca there are two archaeological Museums. One is in Vathy, with exhibits of ceramic items, devotional ceramic artefacts, miniature works of art, bronze items of the Geometric Era, coins etc. The other museum is in Stavros with exhibits from the Mycenaean and Corinthian periods. There is also a Maritime-Folk Art Museum with more than 1500 exhibits.

Very close to Vathy is the famous “Cave of the Nymphs”, with its interior covered by beautiful stalactites. This was, according to the myth, the place where Odysseus hid the gifts of Pheakes, upon his return to the island. The “Cave of Loizos” in Stavros, was a centre of worship during the Protohellenic period.

You can also visit the house of the hero of the Greek revolution of 1821, Georgios Karaiskakis in the traditional village Kioni, the ruins of the medieval town Palaiochora with churches decorated with murals of Byzantine art, the village Pilikata, where some believe the town of Odysseus used to be, the picturesque village Stavros, on the square of which stands the bust of Odysseus with the inscription «Ευχήν Οδυσσεί» (Offering to Odysseus), the ruins of the ancient town of Alalkomenes on a hill called Aetos and the most mountainous village of the island, Anogi, where there is an area strewn with impressive boulders, the famous Menir.

Other areas of the island with points of natural beauty and historical monuments are: Perachori, Lefki, Exogi, Platrithia, Ai Giannis.

In Ithaca you can enjoy the sun, the sea and water sports on various picturesque pebbly beaches. Take a swim in the crystal clear waters and enjoy the rich natural setting on the beaches: Dexia, Aetos, Loutsa, Skinos, Gidaki, Filiatro, Sarakiniko, Piso Aetos, Afales, Kathisma, Poli, Aspros Gialos.

Enjoy long walks in the unspoiled nature, wander in the picturesque stone paved streets, travel back to the rich history and tradition of the area and taste the culinary creations of the Eptanissian cuisine. The island of Odysseus is waiting for you.

How to get there

Roadly – Coastally: To visit Ithaca you should get by road to the city of Patras, the port of Kyllini in the Prefecture of Ilia or the port of Astakos of Etoloakarnania, points served by the KTEL of Kefalonia bus service. These points are connected by regular ferry service to Ithaca, from Patras via Sami of Kefalonia and directly from Astakos and Kyllini. There is also daily ferry connection to the island of Lefkada.

By Air: Ithaca does not have its own airport, but the closest airport is that of the nearby island of Kefalonia. From there you can take the Ferry to Ithaca.

Ithaca Photos

Ithaca Useful Telephone Numbers (Calling code for Greece 0030)

Ithaca Municipality
26740 32795
Sami of Kefalonia Port Authority
26740 22031
Ithaca Health Center
26740 32222
Kefalonia Bus Station
210 5129488
Stavros-Ithaki Community Clinic
26740 31207
Archaeological Museum
26740 32200
Ithaca Police Station
26740 32205
Archaeological Collection of Stavros
26740 31305
Ithaca Port Authority
26740 32909
Naval – Folkloric Museum
26740 33398
Patras Port Authority
2610 341046, 341002