Paxoi (Greek: Παξοί, Paksi) formerly known as "Paxos" , is the smallest of the Ionian Islands. In fact in Greek it is a plural form and it refers to a complex of islands of both Paxoi and Antipaxoi (a smaller nearby island famous for its wine and sandy beaches). In Greek mythology Poseidon created the island by striking Corfu with his trident, so that he and wife Amphitrite could have some peace and quiet.
Although possibly inhabited from prehistoric times, the Phoenicians are traditionally held to have been the first settlers on Paxoi. The name is believed to be derived from Pax which meant slate in their language.
The Romans ruled the island from the 2nd century BC. During the Byzantine period in the Middle ages, it was constantly attacked by pirates. After various rulers and Crusaders had passed Paxoi, the island was taken by the Venetians in the beginning of the 16th century.
At the end of the 18th century, the island belonged to the Napoleonic army, and for a while, it belonged to the Ionian Union. During most of the 19th century Paxoi was a British protectorate. The Greek War of Independence had broken out in 1821 and in 1864 Paxoi was ceded, along with the rest of the Ionian Islands, to Greece by the British.
The island is approximately eight miles in length and tipped up towards the west. Steep cliffs here that are greatly eroded at sea level are white and chalky. Much of the atractive landscape is still covered in olive groves. These stretch from Lakka, the harbour community in the north, through Magazia to Gaios, the capital. Fishing was supplanted by tourism as the principle industry in the mid sixties. There are ferry connections daily with Kerkyra and with the mainland at Parga. Larger ferries still stop offshore on their way down through the Ionian chain of islands.
Among recent well known semi permanent British inhabitants were Audrey Good, former commander of the UN refugee bases in Epirus (followng the Greek Civil War, actor Peter Bull (author of 'It Isn't all Greek to me') and actress Suzannah York.
- Inhabitants: Paxiot s., -s pl.
Communities and settlements
- Antipaxos (nearby island)
- Gaios (seat)
- Lakka (second biggest settlement)
- Longos (third biggest settlement)
- Platanos (or Fontana / Fountana)
- Porto Longos
- Velianitatika (or Veliantatika)
The island is serviced by ferry boats from the mainland Greece port of Igoumenitsa (1.5 hours), speed-boats from Corfu (1–1.5 hours) and high-speed ferriesfrom Bari and Brindisi (4 hours). There is no airport but there is a private-owned seaplane service (7 minutes from Corfu town).
Paxos is a quite haven away from it all and it is an ideal place for families and people who want to enjoy quiet holidays. It is a rocky island and there is not a single place where one cannot see olive trees. Its most vibrant place is the capital Gaios, which boasts 2 discos and a dozen bars. There are another two main villages, the picturesque harbours of Longos and Lakka. High season however is short, lasting usually from 28 of July to 25 of August. Most visitors come from Italy and seem to occupy the island in August.
In Paxos they speak a dialect which resembles the one of Corfu and it has similar prosody. It is heavily influenced by Italian. There is a glossary of Paxiot expressions one can refer to.
There is no shortage of accommodation in the island and visitors will have no problems finding a place to stay (unless they visit during high season without having booked in advance). There are three hotels and numerous rooms and villas for rent. You can contact directly the owners of rooms and villas from the following sites http://www.paxos.tk and http://www.paxos-greece.com (which also provide a lot of general information as well as links to alternative accommodation).