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Kefalonia in Greece
Lovely verdant Kefalonia (or Cephalonia) is in terms of surface area Greece's fifth largest island (786 km2), only Rhodes, Lesvos, Evia and Crete is larger. If you put the neighbouring islands of Lefkada and Zakynthos on top of Kefalonia, it would still be room for more islands. Also in terms of population, Kefalonia place itself at the head of the Greek Islands with its 35,800 inhabitants.
Myrtos beach is a must when visiting Kefalonia.
The largest town is Argostoli which is home to about 9,750 people. The highest mountain Megalos Soros (1,627 metres) is part of Mount Enos, which is located in Enos National Park on southern Kefalonia. The national park was founded in 1962 in order to protect the endemic fir called Greek Fir (or Abies Cephalonica). Fortunately Kefalonia is not only an island with firs, it is also an island with great beaches, nice villages and some very interesting attractions.
Platis Gialos in Lassi is one of most popular beaches.
I started with the adjectives lovely and verdant, I would like to add one more, namely beautiful, because Kefalonia is a very beautiful island, actually one of Greece's most beautiful. Something that more and more have discovered. But it is not so long ago that Kefalonia was an unknown island for most tourists. Package holidays started late.
Everything changed in 1993 when the novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin was published. I write more about the book further down, first I'll tell you about another important event in the island's history, an event that literally shook up Kefalonia so awfully that it affect the island to this day.
In August 1953 the Ionian Islands were hit by four major earthquakes. The worst (number three) struck just before half past eleven in the morning on August 12. The quake had a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale and belongs to the worst in Greece in modern times. The epicentre was located in southern Kefalonia and was therefore hardest hit.
The devastation was almost total, only a few villages in the North managed, one of them is Fiskardo. The earthquake was not only a material damage, it was also a human tragedy: about 600 people died directly or indirectly by the quake. Those who survived were hard-stricken economically, and many chose to move from the island, which resulted in that the island lost almost 100,000 of its population.
Fiskardo did well in the 1953 earthquake.
Kefalonia has since the tragedy in 1953 been hit by three earthquakes (2003: 5.3 on the Richter scale, 2005: 4.3 on the Richter scale, and in January 2014: 5.8 on the Richter scale) with minor damages. The island has also been hit by severe forest fires, the latest ravaged in the summer of 2007, when an incredible heat wave swept across Greece.
The earthquake in 1953 was brought up again in 1993 when the novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières was published. The novel is set on Kefalonia and the earthquake has a important role in the plot, together with war, love, sorrow, friendship and betrayal. I had longed to Kefalonia ever since I read the book. However, it took until the summer of 2007 before I was able to visit the island for the first time. I was not disappointed, and I do not think you will be it either. But if you should happen to be displeased, you can drown the disappointment with the local wine Robola (one of Greece's most famous wine) produced on Kefalonia.
Melissani lake is a must when you are in Kefalonia.
You can read more about Kefalonia via the links at the end of this page. A very short summary of the information comes here:
Kefalonia has an International Airport and that makes is easy to travel here. Especially if it is possible to go on a package holiday from your country, which it is from many countries (check with a travel agency where you live). If your are going to travel independently, the best way is to buy a spear seat directly to Kefalonia through a charter company. Otherwise you can fly to Athens, Preveza (near Lefkada) or Zakynthos.
Kefalonia's capital is Argostoli. Lassi, a few kilometres southwest of Argostoli, is the island's most popular tourist destination. Other very nice villages are Fiskardo and little cute Assos. Other villages are Lixouri, Kourkoumelata, Metaxata, Skala, Poros, Sami and Agia Efimia.
The beaches are among the best in the Ionian islands, almost all are composed of fine gravel or pebbles, but there are also beaches with sand, like Xi beach on the peninsula of Lixouri. The best beaches are Platis Gialos, Makris Gialos, Lourda, Antisamos including the island's most attractive beach: Myrtos beach.
Oddly enough there are almost no sights from ancient time, there are for example no temples. The available attractions are mainly of natural kind, like Drogarati Cave and Melissani Lake. Both are very interesting and should be seen, above all Melissani Lake which is extremely worth seeing. Other attractions are Katavothres and Tzanata tomb.
If you are travelling on a package holiday - which most do - you
most probably stay in Argostoli, Lixouri, Lassi or Svoronata. What is
best is a matter of taste. If you are travelling independently, you can
choose almost any village, but most choose to stay in Argostoli or Lassi
where there is a wide range of hotels. To find a place to stay on spot
is pretty hopeless. It is best to book in advance.
Assos is my favorite in Kefalonia.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin do not have the same appeal today. Instead it is other things that attracts tourists to Kefalonia, such as the lovely beaches of Antisamos, Lourda and Myrtos (see photo above and on the top), the nice tourist resorts of Assos, Skala, Fiskardo and Lassi, the capital of Argostoli, as well as the interesting cave of Drogarati and Melissani lake.