Argostoli Promenade

Capital of Kefalonia

Argostoli has been the capital and administrative centre of Kefalonia, since 1757. The capital, which sits in a sheltered bay, has developed in to one of the busiest ports in Greece. To the east of the town, at the end of the bay, beneath the Castle of St. George, sits the Koutavos Lagoon, a feeding ground for the Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta). Now a nature reserve, the Koutavos Lagoon was once an almost impassable swamp where mosquitos and malaria were rife. Under the British governor of the island, General Sir Charles James Napier, a wooden bridge was constructed across the lagoon in 1813 by Colonel Charles Philip de Bosset, a Swiss engineer. Four years later stone arches were added and, after some 26 years, the entire bridge was rebuilt in stone.

Along the Piccolo Gyro, in the Vlikha area facing Lixouri, lie the “Swallow Holes” of Katovothres, a unique geological phenomenon. Sea water disappears underground and travels under the island, re-emerging some fourteen days later in the Karavomylos area of Sami, having passed through the nearby, and very spectacular, underground Melissani lake. A little further along the Piccolo Gyro is the Agion Theodoron lighthouse, which was built during the British occupation, in 1829. The original building which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1953, was rebuilt, complete with Doric-style columns, from the original plans.

Original buildings that were shattered by German bombing in 1943 were destroyed in 1953 by the earthquake that razed virtually all of Kefalonia, apart from the Fiskardo area, to the ground. Very little remains of old Argostoli and any colour photographs you may see of ‘old Argostoli’ are invariably from the film set of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin which, although set largely in Argostoli, was actually filmed in the (much quieter) town of Sami.

One of the few remaining buildings, minus the upper floor, is the Kometatos Mansion, just off Plateia Valianos, the main square in Argostoli. This is now a small, private museum (open to the public) housing a numismatic collection and sets of lithographs of Kefalonia from the early 19th century.