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Kefalonia

Argosoli Bay

Island of Kefalonia

Kefalonia, Cephilinia, Cephalonia

The name of the island, depending on which book you read, tends to be spelt several different ways. Kefalonia, Cephilinia or Cephalonia. It is even pronounced slightly different (depending on which airline you travel) but, the most common spelling of all is Kefalonia, which is the one you will find throughout this site.

According to mythology, the island derives its name from the Athenian, Cephalus who sought refuge there, shattered by the death of his wife whom he had accidentally killed during a hunt, mistaking her for his quarry. According to other sources, the name derives from an ancient people known as Cephallanes or from the fact that Cephalonia is the largest island in the Ionian sea and thus constitutes the 'Ceph' or 'Head' of this group of islands. Others will tell you that the island got its name from Cephalos, who was the first King, as in ancient times the island was divided into four cities, which took their names from his four sons: Pali, Krani, Sami and Proni.

In 189 B.C. the island was invaded by the Romans, who used it as a naval base when they went to war with Greece. The island came under Frankish rule in 1185. It was conquered successfully by the Normans, Orsinis, Andegans and Toccans. The Turks also ruled for a short period and Venice ruled the island for a couple of hundred years.

The French also settled on the island for short periods and on the second occasion Napoleon's imperial forces landed in 1807. The British settled in 1809 and their rule played an important role in the islands development. The British Administrator, Phillip de Bosset was responsible for the planning and construction of the capital, Argostoli and the Drapanos Bridge, which was originally constructed out of wood, is known affectionately as the English Bridge. The British rule ended in 1864 following the union of the Ionion Islands with the rest of Greece.

More recently, in the 1953 earthquake, almost every house was destroyed with only regions in the north escaping heavy shaking. Damage was estimated in tens of millions of dollars, however the real damage to the economy occurred when residents left the island. The earthquakes are caused by three tectonic plates which meet in the area of Kefalonia, Ithika and Zakynthos (Zanti). Apparently the plates, which are in constant motion are causing Greece to sink slowly into the Aegean. The tension between the plates causes minor seismic tremors within the Ionian Islands but, the chances of experiencing a tremor, less still an earthquake, while you are on holiday are very slim

The forest fire of the 1990s caused damage to the island's forests and bushes, especially a small scar north of Troianata, and a large area of damage extending from Kateleios north to west of Tzanata, ruining about 30 square kilometres of forest and bushes and resulting in the loss of some properties. The forest fire scarred the area for a couple of years.

The strong Lefkada earthquake of August 14, 2003 - 50 years to the week after the 1953 quake - also shook the entire island. However little damage was reported on Kefalonia and Ithaca. Three months after the Lefkada earthquake, another mid-November earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale caused minor damages to business, residential property, and other buildings within the Argostoli periphery.

On the morning of Tuesday September 20, 2005, an early-morning earthquake shook the southwestern part of the island, especially near Lixouri and its villages. The earthquake measured 4.9 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was located off the island in the sea. Service vehicles took care of the areas. No damages were reported and between January 24 and 26, 2006, a major snowstorm blanketed the entire island causing a major blackout.