The island of Kefalonia, also known as Cephalonia, is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece, with an area of 781 square kilometres (302 sq mi). It is also a separate peripheral unit of the Ionian Islands Periphery. The capital of Cephalonia is Argostoli.
Coordinates: 38°15′N 20°30′E
Kefalonia is in the heart of an earthquake zone, and dozens of minor or unrecorded tremors occur each year. In 1953, a massive earthquake almost destroyed all settlement on the island, leaving only Fiscardo in the north untouched.
Among important natural features are the Melissani and the Drogarati caves.
The island’s highest mountain is Mount Ainos, with an elevation of 1628m; to the west-northwest are the Paliki mountains, where Lixouri is found, with other mountains including Gerania and Agia Dynati. The top of Mount Ainos is covered with Abies cephalonica trees and is a natural park.
Kefalonia is well known for its endangered loggerhead turtle population which nest at Kaminia beach under the watchful protection of the Sea Turtle Protection society.
There are five harbours and ports in the prefecture: four main harbours on the island, Same or Sami, and a major port with links to Patras and Ithaca. Poros, in the south, has ferry routes to Kyllini; Argostoli, in the west, is the largest port, for local boats and ferries to Zante and regularly to Lixouri; Fiscardo, in the north, has links to Lefkas and Ithaca. There is room for about 100 small boats in Argostoli, where the port stretches 1 kilometre around the bay, while Lixouri is situated 4 km across the bay from Argostoli, on the Lixouri peninsula. There is a road connection to the rest of the island, but driving from Lixouri to Argostoli involves a 30 km detour.
History of Kefalonia
In the Southwest of the island, in the area of Leivatho, an ongoing archaeological field survey by the Irish Institute at Athens has discovered dozens of sites, with dates ranging from the Palaeolithic to the Venetian period.
From archaeological point of view Kefalonia is an extremely interesting island. Archaeological findings go back to 40,000 BP. Without any doubt the island’s most important era is the Mycenaean era from approx. 1500-1100 B.C. The archaeological museum in Cephalonia’s capital Argostoli – although small – is regarded as the most important museum in Greece for its exhibits from this era.
Caves on Kefalonia
The Agios Gerasimos Cave in Argostoli, situated 3 km from town. This is where Agios Gerasimos, the island’s patron saint, led an ascetic life before settling to the Valley of Omalon.
The Spilies Caves in Fiskardo. The Caves situated on the hill of Spiliovouno are sites of archeological interest. In close proximity, are found remains of Cyclopean walls.
The Drakospilia Cave in Lixouri. The Dracospilia Cave (the cave of the dragon), is located to the South.
The Zervati Cave in Sami. The Zervati Cave, located in the area of Karavomylos, measures 18 m deep and 75 m long. It features two small lakes whose banks support aquatic plants that are rarely encountered in Greece. It is not open to the public.
The Aggalaki Cave in Sami. The Aggalaki Cave, found in the area of Poulata, is surrounded by fourteen other caves. It has a 50-m-deep cauldron-like opening, and comprises a lake with a surface area of 3.000 m2 approximately, and a subterranean karst branch that extends over some 8.000 m2. The cave is not open to the public.
The Melissani Cave or Melissani Lake is a cave located northwest of Sami, about 5 km SE of Agia Efthymia and NE of Argostoli. Forests surrounds the cave and the mountain slope is to the west.
The Drogarakis Cave in Sami. The Drogaratis Cave, found 5 km away, is truly a manifestation of the grandeur of Nature which has crafted itself this “sculptural” masterpiece. Once inside the cave, the visitor is instantly captivated by this remarkable workshop of the earth, where stalactites and stalagmites are being formed for thousands of years. The reflection of sunlight on the stalactites creates an unworldly, dream-like atmosphere. The cave contains a 44-m-long descending passageway that leads to a chamber of 30 x 40 m. The latter, decorated with multi-hued stalactites and stalagmites, is noted for its excellent acoustics and is arranged for concerts (a special platform has been erected along the back wall of the cavern). Its domed roof is intact and is of a unique, magical formation. The Drogarati Cave is a rare geological phenomenon and attracts thousands of visitors.
The Sakkos Cave in Skala. The Sakkos Cave is a site of archeological interest, found at the location that bears the same name, between Skala and the Temple of Apollo. It consists of two cavities linked by a small tunnel. It has yielded findings attesting to its use by prehistoric peoples.