38.35/28°21" N lat.
20.65/20°39" E long
1 m (centre)
Niriton (809 m)
|Number of subdivisions:||-|
|Postal code:||283 00|
|Area/distance code:||11-30-Greece dialing code 2674l0 (0030-26740)-2 through 7|
|Address of administration:||30 Spyros Razos St.|
Ithaca 283 00
Ithaca, or Ithaki in modern Greek, Greek alphabet: Ιθάκη; is an island in the Ionian Sea, in Greece with an area of 96 km² and 5,000 inhabitants. It is an independent municipality of Kefallinia prefecture, and lies off the North East coast of Kefallinia.
The capital, Vathy, has one of the world's largest natural harbours.
As of 2002, Ithaca became a popular destination for holiday tourists on day visits from the other Ionian Islands, especially after Charles, Prince of Wales and the late Diana, Princess of Wales spent part of their honeymoon there.
The island has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. It was the capital of Cephalonia during the Mycenaean period. The Romans occupied the island in the 2nd century BC, and later it became part of the Byzantine Empire. The Normans ruled Ithaca in the 12th and 13th century, and after a short Turkish rule it fell into Venetian hands. Ithaca was then occupied by France at the end of the 18th century and in 1809 it was conquered by the British. In 1864 Greeks liberated it.
Much of the island's architecture was destroyed in an earthquake in 1953.
Ithaca: home of Odysseus?
The modern island named Ithaca is usually assume to have been the legendary home of Odysseus from Homer's Odyssey. According to some scholars, it may even have been the home of Homer himself. The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer about Odysseus's voyage and return. Homer describes Ithaca thus:
- "Around are many islands, close to each other, Doulichion and Samos and wooded Zakynthos. Ithaca itself lies low, furthest out to sea, facing the western sunset. The rest stand apart, and face both dawn and sun."
Homer makes 26 descriptions of specific places on Ithaca, but these do not match the modern Ithaca. For instance, the modern Ithaca faces east and is mountainous. Several explanations have been suggested for why this might be so.
Firstly, it has been suggested that Kefalonia and Ithaca may have once been joined, because Homer describes Ithaca as if it is much larger than it now is and on the west side. Geographical data also suggests the islands may have once been connected, although research is still being done to prove this.
Secondly, it has been suggested, that Paliki -- now part of Kephalonia but once an island -- matches each of Homer's 26 descriptions. It was suggested in the book "Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer's Ithaca" written by James Diggle, Professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University, Robert Brittlestone, a British writer and amateur archeologist, and John Underhill, a geologist at Edinburgh University. Their reasearch has been published by Cambridge University Press, and The Times reported on September 30, 2005 that "the research has convinced leading academics worldwide."
Ithaca is also a strait situated in the western part of the island and is called the Strait of Ithaca.
The capes in the island include Exogi, the westernmost but not in land, Melissa to the north, Mavronos and Agios Ilias to the east, Schoinos, Sarakiniko and Agios Ioannis, the easternmost to the east and Agiou Andreou, the southernmost in the south. Bays include Afales Bay to the northwest, Frikes and Kioni Bays to the northeast and Ormos Gulf and Sarakiniko Bay to the southeast. The tallest mountain is Nitriton (908 m), the second tallest is Nerovoulo elevating 552 m.
- Lorentzos Mavilis (1860 - November 29, 1912 in the Ioannina area)
- Odysseus Androutsos, hero of the Greek Revolution
- Ioannis Metaxas, general and politician
Ithaca has schools, lyceums, a few gymnasia, banks, a post office, a sporting centre and squares (plateies).
The municipality includes islands other than Ithaca including one near Cape Melissa, Atokos to the northeast and several islands in the east including Drakonero, Echinades, Oxeia and Petallades to the east near Aitoloacarnania.
Diggle, James (2005). Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca. Cambridge University Press, 2005.