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Waters Ionian sea
Archipelago Ionian islands
Geographical location 38 ° 14 ′  N , 20 ° 34 ′  E Coordinates: 38 ° 14 ′  N , 20 ° 34 ′  E
Kefalonia (Ionian Islands)
length 48 km
width 30 km
surface 734.014 km²
Highest elevation Megas Soros
( Enos )
1628  m
Residents 40,000
54 inhabitants / km²
main place Argostoli

Kefalonia ( modern Greek Κεφαλονιά [ kʲɛfalɔˈnja ], ancient Greek Κεφαλληνία , Kephallēnía , Italian Cefalonia and earlier partly Cefalogna) is a Greek island at the exit of the Gulf of Patras . It is part of the prefecture of Kefallinia and with 734,014 km² the largest of the Ionian Islands . After many years of rural exodus, Kefalonia recorded a strong population increase from 1991 to 2001 (with 21.9% the second highest value in Greece) due to immigration. Today around 40,000 people live on the island. In local usage, the island is usually called Kefalliniá (Κεφαλληνιά).

The most important place is Argostoli on the southwest coast, followed by Lixouri . The highest point is Mount Enos at 1,628 m above sea level. Kefalonia is well developed for tourism and is mainly visited by the British in summer. Many Italians use the waters around the bay-rich island as a boat area. From June to September the number of overnight stays is highest, from October mainly Athenians are guests.



Kefalonia is the largest Ionian island and at the same time the most important militarily, as it blocks the Gulf of Patras and thus also the entrance to the Isthmus of Corinth . It is mainly mountainous, the highest point is the 1628 m high mountain Enos.


The island belongs largely to präapulischen zone and is of Eocene - limestone dominates, on the western peninsula of Paliki there are sandstone . In the southeastern part there are breccias and schists , and small and strip-like formations of Ammonitico Rosso can also be found. The central part of the island is dominated by the Enos mountain range, which is characterized by chalk dolomites and limestone.


Copper coins from the ancient city of Pale
Map by Joseph Roux (1764)
Bathing pleasure near Argostoli (1930)

Kefalonia was settled by Neanderthals as early as 110,000 to 35,000 years ago ; this is evidenced by stone tools .

There have been assumptions since ancient times that Kefalonia coincides with the island of Same, which in the Odyssey belonged to Odysseus , but the Homeric Dulichion was also often equated with Kefalenia. A study from 2018 tries to support the thesis that Kefalonia coincides with the homeland island of Odysseus, the Homeric island of Ithaca. Finds from the Mycenaean period have been preserved, including a large, richly decorated cupola grave near Tzanata , which surpasses all grave structures of this phase on the Ionian Islands and in the northwest of the Peloponnese.

In the 6th and 5th centuries BC The island belonged to the area of ​​influence of Corinth , but was around 375 BC. Forced by the general Timotheus to join the Athens- dominated Attic League . In ancient times there were four cities on the island: Pale , Same, Pronnoi and Krane ( Kefalonian Tetrapolis ). Kefalonia was an important stop on the way from Sicily and Italy to Greece. The geographer Skymnos writes of the "island of the Kephalli". The political situation prevented a greater importance of the island, which did not provide any ships during the Peloponnesian Wars .

Beginning of the 2nd century BC The island came under Roman rule. From 59 BC she was Place of exile for Gaius Antonius Hybrida , the father-in-law of Marcus Antonius, who was accused of participating in the Catiline conspiracy and extortion in the province of Macedonia administered by him . 50 BC The island came under the rule of Gaius Antonius . According to Strabo (10,2,16), the temple of Jupiter Aenesius was on the top of Enos . This name evidently led to speculation early on as to whether Aeneas was on the island.

A recent theory, based on meteorological, geographical and historical research, identifies the island of Melite mentioned in the biblical Acts of the Apostles as Kefalonia (or possibly a peninsula of it). Accordingly, the apostle Paul stranded on Kefalonia, contrary to popular theory and tradition, when he was on his way to Rome. There is also a tradition of this on the island, which is linked to the St. Paul's Church in Pessada . The theory also connects the serpent cult in the churches of Kefalonia with the story of Paul. Emperor Hadrian gave the island to Athens in the 2nd century. When the empire was divided in 395 , the island came under the control of the Eastern Roman and Byzantine empires and in 535 was one of its 64 provinces.

In 1085 Normans under Robert Guiscard (who died in the bay of Porto Atheras ) occupied the island. The place Fiskardo is named after him today. After the fourth crusade of 1204 it was awarded to Venice .

The Latin diocese of Kefalonia was established under the Venetians in the 13th century . In 1375 the Tocchi family succeeded the Orsini in the Palatinate County of Kefalonia . However, this was conquered by the Ottomans in 1479 . On May 24, 1500, a Venetian-Spanish fleet under Admiral Benedetto Pesaro and Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba y Aguilar conquered the island again. After 21 years of Ottoman rule, the Palatinate was restored with the help of the Venetians. However, a mercenary army continued to fight with the Ottomans, who tried to recapture the island. In 1536 the navigator Juan de Fuca was born on Kefalonia. In 1538 the Ottomans succeeded in deporting 3,000 people into slavery . From the late 16th century onwards, Kefalonia developed into a printing site for Venetian books, such as various Talmud editions, as the censorship here was much more liberal than in the city of Venice. After the loss of Crete , Kefalonia became an important trading post for the Venetian fleet.

In 1797 all the Ionian Islands were occupied by the French, and from 1799 the Russian Emperor Paul I proclaimed the Republic of the Seven United Islands (which was also tributary to the Ottomans). During the Napoleonic Wars , the islands were first occupied by the French (1806), who founded the short-lived Ionian Republic here, and later by the British (1809/1810). They converted this into an independent state under the British protectorate in 1815 under the name United State of the Seven Ionian Islands . In 1823 Lord Byron stayed on the island and wrote his work Don Juan here before he went to Greece to take part in the local war of independence. In 1864, Kefalonia and the other Ionian Islands came to Greece at the request of the population and after a corresponding vote by the Ionian Parliament.

After the conquest of Greece by Italian and German troops in the Balkan campaign , Kefalonia, like the other Ionian Islands, was occupied by Italian troops from April 1941. After Italy surrendered to the Allies in early September 1943, German mountain troops occupied the island and shot between 4,000 and possibly even 5,300 Italian soldiers in the massacre on Kefalonia between September 21 and 24, 1943; it was one of the most serious German war crimes in the Mediterranean.

Kefalonia has been repeatedly hit by major earthquakes, including the earthquake of 1867 . The last major earthquake occurred in 1953 and caused great damage; due to emigration as a result of the quake, the population fell from 125,000 to 25,000. Since 1990 the island has experienced an economic boom, which is also reflected in the increased number of inhabitants.

Flora and fauna

The forest on Mount Enos

Fir trees on Enos

The 1,628 meter high mountain Enos was called Monte Negro by the Venetians because of its dark color. The color goes back to the black fir ( Abies cephalonica ), which is endemic to the Greek mountains . It appears for the first time on coins from the 4th century BC. From ancient Pronnous (near Poros), later it was valued by the Venetians in shipbuilding. In 1824, the island's governor Charles James Napier declared the pine forests on the Enos a nature reserve and initiated their reforestation.


The following types of orchids can be found on the island:

  • Armblütiges orchid ( orchis pauciflora )
  • Four-point orchid ( Orchis quadripunctata )
  • the hybrid between the latter two species

Silver thistles

The silver thistle Carlina Ianata can be found between Lixouri and Mantzavinata . It blooms between July and August, its flower color is pink. At Argostoli you can find the Carlina Corymbosa , which flowers yellow in August.

Monk seals and hawksbill turtles

Two of the twelve most threatened animal species in the world, the Mediterranean monk seal ( Monachus monachus ) and the loggerhead sea turtle ( Caretta caretta ), can be found on the coast facing Zakynthos .

The seals in the strait between the islands are already mentioned in the Odyssey . Conservationists and fishermen are committed to protecting the seal population. Today there is no longer any danger from fishing nets, but from sailing and motor yachts.


Drogarati stalactite cave
Lake Melissani
Xi Beach
Venetian castle of Agios Georgios


Heinrich Schliemann visited the island on July 7, 1868 . He was able to convince himself that two mills are powered by water that flows from the sea through canals in caves. This water is found 16 kilometers further in a lake of the underground Melissani Cave , the water level of which is, however, above sea level. Nowadays, scientists explain the phenomenon as follows: The salty sea water of higher density mixes in the underground cavities with surface and rain water of lower density also flowing into them to form mixed / brackish water of medium density, which is then higher in weight equilibrium to the salty sea water. The salty headwater for the sea water mills only flows if there is enough rainwater underground to dilute it.

The underground lake is one of the island's main attractions. In ancient times the place was a place of worship of the shepherd god Pan . A lot of daylight penetrates the grotto at lunchtime. The Drogarati stalactite cave is located nearby .


Of the countless beaches, the pebble beach Myrtos deserves attention, which is located in the northwest near the town of Asos. He achieved good placements in several comparisons. Sandy beaches can be found in the southwest near the city of Lixouri and in bays in the south between Argostoli and Skala.

Museums and buildings

  • Local history museum under the Korjialenios library in Argostoli
  • Natural History Museum in Davgata
  • Church Museum of the Orthodox Diocese of Kefalonia in Peratata
  • Permanent exhibition at the headquarters of the Focas-Cosmetatos Foundation in Argostoli
  • School designed by Thukydides Valentis in Lixouri (New Objectivity Building)
  • Several Venetian castles and fortresses, such as Assos and Agios Georgios
  • The Iakovatios library in Lixouri, housed in the former ancestral home of the Tirpado / Typaldos family; In addition to the obligatory lending library, the very well-preserved classicist building also houses a collection of important historical books from the 16th to 19th centuries, for example the first edition of the works of Hippocrates and Plato from the Renaissance
  • Archaeological Museum in Argostoli



The first contact with Christianity is said to have come when the apostle Paul stopped in the Gulf of Argostoli on his journey from Crete to Rome. The Gnostic Epiphanes lived and worked on Kefalonia in the 2nd century , who was venerated after his death. He is said to have been a successor or a son of Karpokrates, whose historical existence is, however, controversial. He died at the age of seventeen, leaving the work On Justice . His followers built a temple in his honor.

There is a Marian cult in the village of Markopoulo, according to which snakes appear on August 15th. Already during the Venetian rule, various denominations lived on the island, which is considered liberal, with theological training mostly taking place in Italy. The Catholic diocese of Kefalonia was founded in the 13th century and the monastery of Sissia was founded by Francis of Assisi . In 1555, the later island saint Gerasimos (1507–1579) came to Kefalonia and initially lived as a hermit in a cave. His body is kept in the monastery of St. Gerasimos. In 1916 the Diocese of Kefalonia was incorporated into the Archdiocese of Corfu . With the emigration after the earthquake of 1953, the proportion of Catholics decreased, especially since Orthodox Christians immigrated from other parts of Greece. The number of remaining Catholics then remained constant for decades; In recent years many Catholic foreigners such as Poles and Filipinos have joined them.


With the fall of Crete (1645–1699) to the Turks, Cretans came to Kefalonia, including a significant number of Jews. In 1823 there were 130 Jews on Kefalonia. Lord Byron wrote during his stay that "there is no difference between Greeks and Jews" on the island. Immediately before the Holocaust, 388 Jews lived on the island. In June 1944 they were deported by the Nazis.

Churches and monasteries

Due to the Venetian rule, church construction developed differently than on mainland Greece. Like early Christian churches, most churches consist of a large room with a rectangular floor plan. The rooms are painted with frescoes . The bell tower with a square floor plan stands a little apart. The island's patron saint is Saint Gerassimos , whose remains are kept in the monastery of the same name. A popular destination is the Kipouria Monastery .

Administrative division

After the municipal reform in 1997, the island of Kefalonia was divided into eight municipalities. These were merged as part of the 2010 administrative reform according to the principle of "every island is a municipality" on January 1, 2011 to form the municipality of Kefalonia ( Δήμος Κεφαλονιάς Dímos Kefaloniás ). After this had turned out to be inexpedient for the administration, the division into three municipalities was decided in March 2019 based on the traditional layout of the formerly three provinces ( επαρχία eparchía ). The goal of reducing costs was not achieved; At the same time, the residents complained about the poor service in the subordinate district offices of the community. The municipalities formed in 1997 continue to exist as municipal districts.

local community Greek name Area (km²) Residents 2011 Seat Parish (Δημοτική Ενότητα)
Argostoli Δήμος Αργοστολίου 378.682 23,499 Argostoli Argostoli , Elios-Pronni , Livathos , Omala
Lixouri Δήμος Ληξουρίου 119.341 07,098 Lixouri Paliki
Sami Δήμος Σάμης 288,552 05,204 Sami Erisos , Pylaros , Sami
total 786.575 35,801


There are ferry connections to the islands of Ithaca , Zakynthos and Lefkada . The latter is connected to the mainland by a bridge. There are also ferry connections from the shipping company Levante Ferries from Sami to Killini and Patras in the Peloponnese . The KTEL cooperative operates bus routes to Patras and Athens, which also use the ferry.

There is a ferry connection between the largest cities on the island, Argostoli and Lixouri , which is of great importance for island traffic itself. The Kefalonia Airport is year-round fly into Athens and seasonal Europe by numerous charter companies.

Educational institutions

Universities of applied sciences

The island is a popular place to study and benefits from the presence of students, especially in winter. The higher education institution TEI Ionion Nison has two locations on the island: in Lixouri it offers economics and musical instrument making , in Argostoli studies in marine biology . Argostoli also has the Rokos Vergotis Conservatory and the National Naval Academy .


Loading of lime in the port of Argostoli

The cultivation of currants was promoted here under the Venetians . Until well into the 20th century, this was the main source of income for the residents alongside shipping. In 1807 currants production was nine million pounds. The export of olive oil, wine and bergamot , and in some cases honey, were also important; Grain and fruit were only grown for personal use. The main exports were to France and Italy. During the Second World War , exports collapsed and did not recover. The only source of income was now shipping, until later tourism was added to a modest extent. The importance of fish farming is currently increasing and the island is one of the world's most important producers of organic fish.

As on all Greek islands, tourism is of great economic importance on Kefalonia, but to a lesser extent than would be possible. Restrictions in the construction sector, the ban on large facilities and the lack of a central location make the island less lucrative for mass tourism. In 2001, Focus wrote about the island, alluding to Odysseus' homeland:

“... a silent jet set has been rocking in the cradle of European culture since the mid-90s. Madonna, Steven Spielberg, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen are not only attracted by the rustic Robola wine. "


The cuisine of the Ionian Islands, and thus also that of Kefalonia, is heavily influenced by Venetian cuisine , with French and Western European influences. Due to tourist demand for Greek dishes and recent cultural exchanges, Greek cuisine is also widespread. There are also some typical island specialties such as stockfisi (dried fish or stockfish , once imported from Northern Europe), pligouri (a meat stew ) or the riganada , a rusk that is roasted and spiced like meat, as well as tomatoes in numerous variations, from spreads to breaded and fried in the Pan. The Kreatopita meat pie consists of different types of meat (beef, pork, goat), tomato paste, rice and puff pastry, which is prepared with wine instead of water. Sofrito and Bourdeto are other dishes. Known as dessert are Komfeto , a white soft nougat with almonds, and mandoles , a specialty made from roasted almonds and sugar. Orgeat is called Orzata (Greek Soumada) and is also available in bottles. Kefalonia is the place of origin of the Greek hard cheese Kefalotyri .


According to a legend, Kephalus , the son of the messenger of the gods Hermes and namesake of the island, brought viticulture to Kefalonia under the care of the wine god Dionysus . Endemic here is the light and fruity white wine made from the Robola grape variety . It is considered likely that the variety was introduced from Italy around 400 years ago, where it no longer exists. Robola Kephallinias can be marketed as a quality wine . Robola is grown by the winemakers of the Agios Gerasimos cooperative (near the monastery of the same name).


The name of the island was u. a. the Art Nouveau vase series Cephalonia by Joh. Loetz Witwe and in 1882 the ship Cephalonia of the Cunard Line , furthermore the font Cephalonia by Letterhend.

Sons and daughters of the island

See also: Personalities of the island of Kefalonia


  • Georg Biedermann: The island of Kephallenia in antiquity. Munich 1897.
  • Joseph Partsch: Kephallenia and Ithaka - a geographical monograph. Justus Perthes, Gotha 1890.
  • Bernhard Weinmann: The soils of the island of Kefallinia. Wilhelm Schmitz, Giessen 1964.
  • Rüdiger Knapp: The vegetation of Kephallinia. O. Koeltz, Königstein 1965.
  • Sabine Becht, Sven Talaron: Kefalonia & Ithaka. M. Müller, 2004, ISBN 3-89953-170-1 .
  • Matthias Steinhart, Eckhard Wirbelauer: From the home of Odysseus. P. von Zabern Verlag, Mainz 2002.
  • Christoph Schminck-Gustavus : Kephallonià. On the trail of a war crime . Donat, Bremen 2004, ISBN 3-934836-66-6 .
  • Kefalonia . In: Die Zeit , No. 20/2008; Travel report
  • Heinz Warnecke: Homer's Wild West. The historical and geographical rebirth of the Odyssey. 2nd Edition. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-515-11621-3 (441 pages).


  • Albert Cohen : Solal. 1930 (French), Eisenbeißer. 1938, The Gentlemen's Beauty. 1968, The Brave. 1969 ( Tetralogy partly plays on Kefalonia, where the "5 brave" live in the stories).
  • Louis de Bernières: Corelli's mandolin. 1994 (made into a film in 2001 with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz: Corelli's Mandolin ).

Web links

Commons : Kefalonia  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
  1. ^ Concise statistical yearbook of Greece 2009
  2. Census: Almost eleven million inhabitants ( memento of the original from September 14, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Military history reports. Military History Research Office 1967, p. 31.
  4. George Ferentinos et al .: Early seafaring activity in the southern Ionian Islands, Mediterranean Sea. In: Journal of Archaeological Science , online pre-publication of February 10, 2012, doi: 10.1016 / j.jas.2012.01.032
  5. on the ancient attempts at localization with regard to Same and Dulichion see p. especially Strabon , Geographie , 10, 455ff.
  6. Heinz Warnecke: Homer's Wild West. The historical and geographical rebirth of the Odyssey. 2nd Edition. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-515-11621-3 (439 pages)
  7. Birgitta Eder : Thoughts on the political geography of the Mycenaean world . In: Geographia Antiqua , XVIII, 2009, p. 34.
  8. Compare Polybius , Historien V.3f.
  9. George Cornewall Lewis: Investigations into the credibility of ancient Roman history , translated and expanded by Felix Liebrecht, first volume, second edition. Carl Rümpler, Hannover 1863, p. 300, note 50.
  10. ^ Heinz Warnecke; Thomas Schirrmacher: Paul in the Storm. About the shipwreck of exegesis and the rescue of the apostle on Kephallenia . 2nd Edition. VTR, Nürnberg 2000, ISBN 3-933372-29-1 (183 pages).
  11. Heinz Warnecke: The actual Rome trip of the Apostle Paul . 2nd Edition. Verl. Kath. Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-460-04271-0 (164 pages).
  12. Paul was never in Malta . In: Die Zeit , No. 52/1988; Review of Heinz Warnecke's dissertation, accessed on August 2, 2018
  13. Holy Metropolis of Cephalonia: St. Paul the Apostel , report on three international conferences in 1993, 1996 and 1999 with further arguments, accessed on August 2, 2018
  14. ^ A. Warsberg: Ithaka. Vienna 1887; Heinz Warnecke: Paul in the storm. VTR, 2000, p. 115 f .; Heinz Warnecke: The actual trip to Rome of the apostle Paul. Stuttgart 2/1989 (1/1987). (= Stuttgart Bible Studies 127).
  15. ^ L. Klinkhammer: The steel pact ended in the lead nail. Kephalonia and the German massacre of Italian soldiers. In: FAZ. March 16, 2002.
  16. ( Memento of the original from June 21, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  17. Theodor Heinrich Hermann von Heldreich, August Mommsen: The plants of the Attic plain. J. Bergas, 1877, p. 46, p. 60, p. 73.
  18. George William Hamilton Fitzmaurice Orkney: Four Years in the Ionian Islands: Their Political and Social Condition. With a History of the British Protectorate. Chapman and Hall, 1864, p. 53.
  19. R. Martin (ed.); George Gordon Byron Byron, Robert B. McGregor: The Byron Gallery of Highly Finished Engravings, Illustrating Lord Byron's Works: With Selected Beauties from His Poems. Elucidated by Historical and Critical Notices; Together with a Sketch of His Life, Containing Important and Unpublished Matter. 1849.
  20. ^ The Jewish Communities and Settlements in Greece. on:
  21. ^ E. Droz: Cologne Romanesque Works. Cologne 2000, p. 98.
  22. Law 2539/1997, «Συγκρότηση της Πρωτοβάθμιας Τοπικής Αυτοδιοίκησης." ΦΕΚ 244A / December 4, 1997, Άρθρο 1. Σύσταση δήμων και κοινοτήτων. S. 8812. PDF Online (Greek)
  23. Kallikratis Program, Law 3852/2010, «Νέα Αρχιτεκτονική της Αυτοδιοίκησης και της Αποκεντρωμένης ΔιοκεντρωμΠνης Διοίκησης - Πρόγραμημα άρτάτης τρτάτης. ΦΕΚ 87 A / 7.6.2010, Άρθρο 1. Σύσταση δήμων. P. 1790. PDF Online (Greek)
  24. Law 4600/2019, ΦΕΚ 43 A / 9.3.2019, Άρθρο 154. Τροποποίηση του άρθρου 1 του ν. 3852/2010. S. 1164. PDF Online (Greek)
  25. Focus. 36-39, 2001