Kefalonia or Kefallonia or Kefallinia is the largest Ionian island and the third largest in population after Corfu and Zakynthos, with a population of about 36.000. It lies opposite the Patras Bay, south of Lefkada, north of Zakynthos and west of Ithaca. Kefalonia connects by ferry with Kyllini, from the port of Poros, with daily routes Kyllini-Kefalonia.
According to evidence, Kefalonia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period and specifically its first known inhabitants were the Leleges, around the 15th century B.C. who brought the worship of Poseidon. The island is said to owe its name to mythic Kefalos, primogenitor of Kefallines in Attica, who was also the first king of the island.
In Homer’s epics, Kefalonia is not referred to as such, but as Doulichion, Samos or Sami. The latter name has since then been maintained for one of the towns of Kefalonia. However, Homer mentions clearly that Odysseus is the leader of Kefallines people. In ancient times, four cities-states of Kefalonia flourished: Krani, Pronnoi, Sami and Pali.
In 187 B.C. Kefalonia was conquered by the Romans, while in medieval times was part of the Byzantine Empire. Over the years, the island got conquered successively by the Normans, the Venetians and the Ottomans, only to come back under the rule of Venetians until 1797, when the French took control. Later, with the establishment of the Ionian State, Kefalonia came under the British control. In 1864 together with the rest of Eptanisa, Kefalonia united with the Kingdom of Greece.
The nature and the geological formation of the island are especially interesting, boasting numerous bays and capes, great coasts, as well as significant caves, like the ones of Melissani and Drogkarati.
A large part of Kefalonia’s area is covered by Mount Ainos which has been designated a National Forest, and which also belongs to the European Ecological Network NATURA 2000. Ainos extends to a length of 10 kilometers and its highest peak is Megas Soros (1.628 m), which is also the highest peak of all Ionian Islands.
Among the marvelous and popular beaches of Kefalonia, like the ones of Xi, Platia Ammos, Makry Gialos, Lourdas, etc., exceptional place is undoubtedly reserved for the famous beach of Myrtos, in the northwestern side of the island. Myrtos has been voted 11 times as the best Greek sea, while every year it numbers among the top beaches of the world, according to several international votings.
Kefalonia also boasts a rich cultural heritage, tradition and customs, powerful enough to effortlessly conquer any visitor. During the period of the 15th of August holiday (Mother Mary’s day), the appearance of little snakes at Arginia and Markopoulo villages is a phenomenon of special religious interest, as these snakes according to tradition appear only these days, with Mother Mary’s grace.