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History of Lefkada


Lefkada, or Leucas or Leucadia or Lefkas or Leukas (Greek: Λευκάδα, [lefˈkaða]; Ancient Greek and Katharevousa: Λευκάς), is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea on the west coast of Greece, connected to the mainland by a long causeway and floating bridge. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Lefkada. It is situated on the northern part of the island, approximately 20 minutes by automobile away from Aktion National Airport. The island is part of the regional unit of Lefkada.


The myth about Sappho's suicide at Cape Lefkada is related to other myths linking the island to the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, and to Odysseus, the hero of Homer's Odyssey. The German archaeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld, having performed excavations at various locations of Lefkada, was able to obtain funding to do work on the island by suggesting that Lefkada was Homer's Ithaca, and the palace of Odysseus was located west of Nydri on the south coast of Lefkada. There have been suggestions by local tourism officials that several passages in the Odyssey point to Lefkada as a possible model for Homeric Ithaca. The most notable of these passages pushed by the local tourism board describes Ithaca as an island reachable on foot, which was the case for Lefkada since it is not really an island, that it was connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. According to Strabo, the coast of Acarnania was called Leucas in earlier times. The ancient sources call Leucas a Corinthian colony, perhaps with a Corcyraen participation. During the Peloponnesian War Leucas had joined the Spartan Confederation.
O Fotinós (or Der Helle in German), is a famous unfinished poem relating the so-called Voukentra revolution of 1357 in Lefkada against the Venetian (Italian) occupation by islander Aristotelis Valoritis.
The Ottomans called it "Ayamavra" (a rendering of the Greek Αγία Μαύρα (Saint Maura), the island's medieval name), and ruled it between 1479–1502, 1504–1684 and 1715-1716.

Lefkada measures 35 kilometres (22 miles) from north to south, and 15 kilometres (9 miles) from east to west. Its area is 336 square kilometres (130 sq mi). Its highest point is the mountain Stavrota, 1,158 metres (3,799 feet) above sea level, situated in the middle of the island. The east coast section of the island has small resorts of Lygia, Nikiana and Perigiali, all north of Nidri, the largest resort on the island. It is set in a sheltered location with views across to Skorpios—formerly owned by Aristotle Onassis, Meganissi and other small islands, as well as the Greek mainland. The main coastal road from Lefkada to Vasiliki runs through the village, although a bypass has now been completed which skirts the village to the west. There are regular car ferries to Kefalonia, Ithaca and Meganissi.
20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Nidri is the resort of Vasiliki, a windsurfing center. There are ferries to Kefalonia and Ithaca from Vasiliki. South of Vasiliki is Cape Lefkada, where the Greek female poet Sappho allegedly leapt to her death from the 30 m high cliffs.
The famous beach of Porto Katsiki is located on Lefkada's west coast. Lefkada was attached to mainland Greece (see above about Homer's Ithaca being Lefkada). The Corinthians dug a trench in the 7th century BC on its isthmus.

The island has a typical Mediterranean climate: hot summers and cool winters, especially in the mountains.

The present municipality Lefkada was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 7 former municipalities, that became municipal units: Apollonioi, Ellomenos, Kalamos, Karya, Kastos, Lefkada (city), Sfakiotes.

The municipality covers the island Lefkada and the smaller islands Kastos and Kalamos.

Notable People

Spiridon Zambelios (1813-1881), historian
Frederick Temple (1821-1902), Archbishop of Canterbury
Aristotelis Valaoritis (1824-1879), poet and politician
Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904), Greco-Irish orientalist and writer, named after the island
Petros Soumilas (1861–19??), Greek Army officer who reached the rank of Lieutenant General.

Dimitrios Golemis (1874–1941), athlete
Aggelos Sikelianos (1884–1951), poet and playwright
Tzavalas Karousos or Karoussos (1904–1969), actor
Panos Rontoyannis (1911–1996), philologist and historian

Theodoros Stamos (1922–1997), Greek-American painter
Apostolos Kaklamanis (1936), politician
Agnes Baltsa (1944), opera singer
George Contogeorgis (1947), political scientist

Elli Tsarlaba-Stai (1954), journalist and talk show presenter
Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping tycoon
Spyros Vrettos (1960), poet
Maria Vamvakinou (1959), Member of the Australian House of Representatives