Kefalonia history

The archaeological pick has shown us that the island of Kefalonia has been inhabited continuously since the Paleolithic age. The first of the known tribes were the Leleges who worshipped Poseidon, they were followed by the Televoans. According to mythology, the first king of the island was the hero Kefalos (Cephalus) son of Hermes, who gave his name to the island after pushing out the Televoans.

In Homers works, Kefalonia is referred to as Sami and Samos whilst its citizens were called Kefallines an name that all Odysseus’ (Ulysses) subjects were called by.

Kafalos begot three sons who gave their names to the following four independent ancient city states – Krani, Sami, Pali and Pronnous.

In the 2nd century the Romans conquered the island and ended the reign of the 4 city states and later in the 495A.D. the island was taken by the Byzantine Empire. During the Byzantine years many conquerors passed through the island amongst them Normans, Franks, and Ottomans. By 1500A.D. it was conquered by the Venetians who left the longest lasting mark on the island through their culture, most of which can still be witnessed today. In 1797 the island was taken by the French and it was during this period that the inhabitants strongly reacted to their feudal tactics and the result of this was that they joined the “Ionian State” a movement that wished along with other Ionian Islands to join Greece (this was only natural since they were Greek since ancient times and the culture and traditions had not faded as such despite the number of various conquerors). The British, for their own strategic purposes, were opposed to allowing this union which took place 67 years later in 1864.

In the 2nd world war Kefalonia was taken by the Italians and later by the Germans once the Italians surrendered to the allies. (See the movie Captain Corelli’s mandolin for fun).

In 1953, the 7 Richter earthquake, leveled the island except for Fiskardo. The Kefalonians built from scratch and slowly geared towards tourism (which is today highly developed) over a long time because their only income at the time came from marine activity.