Kefalonia History

Kefalonia, Greece Site map

Kefalonia History: Learn about the history of the famous island of Kefalonia, Greece

    The first presence of human life on the island of Kefalonia dates back to the Palaeolithic era. It is said that the island took it name from Kephalos, the first king of the area.

According to Kefalonia history, he was the founder of the four ancient cities of the island: Sami, Pahli, Krani and Pronnoi, who took their names after his four children. That is the reason why the island was called Tetrapolis (four towns).

The four cities were autonomous and each had its own regimes and coins. During this historical period, the inhabitants of the island worshipped the Olympian Gods.

The Byzantine Empire played an important part in the defence of the island against the pirates.

The Byzantine era ended in the 11th century when the island fell under the Frankish rule. It was then successively conquered by Normans, Orsinis, Andegans, and Toccans.

Around 1480, the island was hit by the first wave of Turkish attacks, led by the famous Ahmed Pasha.

The Turkish ruled the island only for a short period and left leaving a desolate island behind them.

In 1802, after popular demands, democratic elections took place on the island and a new Constitution was established in 1803.

In 1807, the island fell again under the French rule, but the new Constitution was maintained.

In 1809, the Ionian fell officially under the control of the English after the Treaty of Paris which established the “United States of the Ionians Islands”.

During this period, the island made important constructions of public interest.

  The island of Kefalonia participated to the Persian and Peloponnesian War, supporting both Sparta and Athens.

In 218 B.C. the Macedonian King Philip attacked the island but was defeated by the Athenians who helped the island of Kefalonia to protect itself.

In 187 B.C., the Romans conquered the island after months of confrontations with the local inhabitants.

The Roman only wanted to use the island as a strategic point in order to conquer the mainland and turned Kefalonia into an important naval base. During this period of history, Kefalonia was constantly threatened by invaders and pirate raids.

During the Byzantine period, from the 4th century A.D., the island was still under the threat of pirate raids and more especially by the famous North African pirates, the Saracens.

Kefalonia, as all the Ionian Islands, fell afterwards under the rule of the Venetians and the Spanish who violated the treaty certifying the Turkish domination upon the island.

During this period, the St Georgios Fortress was the island’s political and military centre but in 1757, an earthquake destroyed everything and the capital was moved to Argostoli.

The Venetian Rule ended in 1797, when the French occupied the island. The islanders warmly welcomed the French. Napoleon made them believe that he would free the Ionian Islands from the oligarchic system.

The official book describing the name and privileges of the nobles was burnt publicly. The following years, the allied fleet of the Russians, the Turks and the English defeated the French. In 1800, the “Ionian State” was founded in Constantinople under the Sultan supervision and the island’s nobles got their privileges back.

Although the island of Kefalonia remained under the English rule, the islanders participated to the Greek Revolution of Independence of 1821 against the Turkish who still ruled the major part of Greece.

The island of Kefalonia was finally unified to the rest of Greece only in 1864.

In 1941, during World War II, the island was occupied by the Italian troops.

In 1943, after Italy’s capitulation, the Italian troops refused to withdraw from the island and led to the massacre of more than 5.000 Italian soldiers by the German forces.

In 1953, the island was hit by an enormous earthquake which destroyed the major part of the island.

Here you will find a list of the many cultural and religious festivals that occur yearly in Kefalonia...
The small and mountainous island of Ithaki (Ithaka) is world known through Homer’s “Odyssey”...

Louis de Bernieres is the author of the novel “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”...
There are many Kefalonia churches on the island.
The most famous is the Church of Agios Gerasimos...





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