The island of Ithaka is known in the whole world through the epic poet Homer, as the birthplace, the kingdom and the beloved, patria of the resourceful Odysseus who was the most popular character in the Greek Mythology.
The legend has it that the island took its name from its first settler "Ithacus", who was the son of the Olympian god of the sea Poseidon. Ithaka Island or "Ithaci" as the island is called from its inhabitants, is the greatest Symbol in the world of adventure, of nostalgia for one´s place of birth and of loyality.
With an area of 96 km and a population of 3500 inhabitants Ithaka Island is the fifth island in size in the Ionian Sea.
It lies south of Lefkada island and north east of the island of Kefalonia from which is separated by a strait of 3,5 km. This beautiful island has a coastline of 101 km with rocky and sand purple beaches washed by crystal blue - green water. The most part of Ithaka is mountainous whose highest peak is the Mt. of Niritos at 800 m (according to the Mythology Anticleia the wife of Ithaka King Laertes, because it was raining give born to Odysseus into a cave of Mt. Niritos. The climate of the island is mild and Mediterranean and it is sunny for the most of the year. The island economy is based mainly a stockbreeding, fishing and tourism. The two waves of emigration, the first in 1829 and the second in 1845 made Ithakans famous as sailors and merchants abroad. Capital of the island is the picturesque port of Vathi; that it is also the largest city of the island.
Vathi is situated above a natural horse - shoe shaped harbor and it is build by the time of the British occupation in the Renaissance and Neoclassical style. At the entrance of the port close to the shore lies the isled of Lazaretto with the chapel, which is dedicated to "Saver Jesus". During the Venetian period the isled used to be the Quarantine isled for the facilities. The dense vegetation is a pleasant surprise for all the visitors when the explores the interior of Ithaka, Natural beauties, graphical small bay villages like Kioni and Frikes washed by crystal blue green water green vegetation that reach the Ionian Sea that is often separated only by a small sandy trip give the inspiration to an anonymous poetries to write the following: Through all hidden paths of our endless thoughts our soul wonder for Ithaka to reach. The beautiful landscape, the Panorama view from the Mountain picks to the other Ionian Islands, the sunsets into the Ionian Sea, offers to the visitor a soul relax. Because the beauties of Ithaka cannot be hide... not even in the night when the first lights are suits on.
Ithaka Island was already inhabited in the Neolithic Era 4000 - 3000 B.C.
The first inhabitants of the island were indigenous Greeks. During the Premycenaean period (2000 - 1500 B.C.) only the south part of the island was inhabited. Ithaka's civilization reached a high point during the Mycenaean period 1500 - 1100 B.C.
At this time the island of Ithaka was flourishing and became to be the capital island of the neighbouring islands of Cephalonia and Zakynthos and also from a part of Acarnania mainland.
Over the following centuries Ithaka island feel under several rulers. The Dorian tribe arrived to Ithaka Island in two waves from Etolocarnania coast and from Peloponissos and occupied the island for three centuries (1100 - 800 B.C.) In the begin of the 9th century Ithaka passed into the Corinthians together with the island of Cephalonia for more than 5 centuries. During the Roman period (180 - 394 A.D.) Ithaka Island was part of the Roman province of Illyria.
At the Byzantine period (394 - 1185 A. D.) Ithaka Island became to be a part of Epirus. In 1057 the Norman Baron Robert Guiscard tried without success to seize the islands of Ithaka and Cephalonia and finally died. In 1185 A.D. the Normans captured Ithaka, Cephalonia and Zakynthos Islands. The Norman ex pirate and then admiral Margaritus in 1204 ceded those three islands to the Italian pirate Orsini. The Orsini family ruled those Ionian Islands for 153 years. In this time the Orsini family adopted the name Comnenus. In the course of the 4th crusade in 1204 the Venetians together with the Crusades signed an agreement in Constantinople dividing up the Byzantine Empire. Ithaka and Cephalonia joined the Despotate of Epirus, which was created by Michael Comninos.
In 1357 Ithaka, Kefalonia, Zakynthos islands handed over to the king of Naple Leonardo Tocco. The dynasty of the Tocco family lasted for 122 years. Unfortunately the fate of Ithaka Island was to fell in the Turkish hands of Ceduk Ahmed. Ithaka Island renamed under the Turks for 25 years. This period was one of the worst periods the island has ever known. The Turks occupators took as hostages all the inhabitants of the island then they killed all the Lords of it and solded all the farmers and the artisans of Ithaka island to work as slaves in Constantinople. At this time the island of Ithaka was almost deserted. Then luckily the Venetians regained control over the Ionian Sea recaptured Ithaka island and held it for 293 years. In 1797 the French Republicans arrived with they fleet in Ithaka (1504 - 1797) gave an end to the Venetian domination and kept in piece the island of Ithaka only for 20 months (1797 - 1799). After the French fleet were defeated in the 1st of August 1798 from the British admiral Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte fell, the Russian - Turkish fleets under the admirals Usakov and Katir Bey declared all the Ionian islands free from the French but as a belonging to the Sublime Port under the name of "United Septinsular State". The treaty, which was signed in Paris on The 6th of November 1815 made Ithaka and all the Ionian, islands a British protectorate under the name "United States of the Ionian islands". Finally in the 21st of May 1864 Ithaka Island together with all the other Ionian islands were united with Greece.