Sites of Interest
Castle of Agios Georgios
The medieval castle of Agios Georgios is near the village of Peratata, on a 320-metre high hill. The castle was built in the 13th century to fortify the island’s old capital which was situated there until 1757 AD. The castle owes its name to a large church of Agios Georgios, which stands in the region. The castle, along with the island, fell in succession into the hands of the Byzantines, the Franks, the Turks and the Venetians. On 24 December 1500, after a persistent battle by the Venetians, the Spanish and the people of Kefalonia, the castle was liberated from the Turks. The severe damage to the buildings led to a four-year restoration supervised by the master engineer Tsimaras. Until an earthquake in 1636, the castle thrived and housed storage rooms, a hospital, barracks, private residencies and a prison in which political prisoners were kept. The Castle’s entire surface area is 16,000 square metres, and the walls are 600 m. long and 1,015 m. high. The three ramparts face Argostoli, the East and Peratata, respectively. The Castle also includes loopholes, observatories and cannon positions. Inside the Castle, one can admire the tower called “Old Fortress”, as well as part of the walls, underground arches, the throne of the Venetian Lord and a Catholic church, where the nobles of Kefalonia were buried.
Church of Theotokos Domatas
The church of Theotokos (Virgin Mary) is situated in the village of Domata, southeast of Argostoli. This church protects the casket of St Holy Martyr and the Oecumeniclal Patriarch Gergory V who was hanged by the Turks in the entrance of the Patriarchate, during Easter day on April 10th 1821. The holy body, found to be floated upon the waters of Bosporus, was collected by Kefalonian Captain Nicholas Sklavos who carried it in Odisso for burial. In the church, there is a beautifully carved wooden icon stand. Although not many people know about this church it is worth the visit as it is high of both of religious and architectural significance.
Drogorati cave lies a few kilometres outside the town of Sami. It is 45 metres in width, 21 metres in depth, and nine metres in length. It consists of two parts. The upper part has collapsed and only huge stalactites of different colours remain. The second part is the cave proper (65 x 45 m), and is a well-known tourist attraction. The cave has extraordinary acoustics, thus its name: “Hall of Apotheosis”. When cultural events are held there dignitaries are seated on the ‘Royal Balcony’, which offers a spectacular over the cave below. The musicians are seated on the opposite side of the cave on a podium of rock. The cave can accommodate an audience of 500.
The Iakovatios Library is situated in Lixouri, housed in a beautiful mansion that formerly belonged to the Lakovati family after whom it is named. Most of the walls are beautifully decorated. Among the 20,000 volumes in the library, are 7,000 volumes from the valuable archives of the Lakovati family and 5,000 volumes which belonged to a former Professor of Theology, Mr. Alivizatos. The most valuable book in the collection is “The Complete Works of Hippocrates”, published in 1595.
The library also houses a small collection of icons and other ecclesiastic heirlooms of the 10th and 15th Centuries, the most significant of which are the icons of “The Miracle at Hones” by Michael Damaskinos and “The Assembly of the Michaelmas” created by the monk Filotheos Skoufos.
The area of Karavomilos is situated northwest of Sami. After an investigation conducted by Yannis Petrohilos and, in 1963, from the Austrian scientists Zolt and Maurin, it was discovered that the waters, which one loses track of in Katavothres, flow into the village of Karavomilos by underground rivers every 15 days. Thus, a small salt-water lake has been created here. This unique phenomenon attracts many tourists to the area.
Katavothres, situated three kilometres outside Argostoli in the area of Fanari, is the site of a peculiar geological phenomenon. The sea pours into holes in the ground and then disappears. In 1963 it was discovered that the sea water flows 15 kilometres through underground rivers and emerges near the village of Karavomilos 15 kilometres to the east where it forms a small salt water lake, and in the spring Fridi at Agia Eyfimia. It takes the water some15 days to make the journey.
Korgialenio Historical and Folk Museum
Korgialenio Historical and Folk Museum is situated in the centre of Argostoli. The museum, established in 1966, exhibits local costumes, furniture and embroidery of Kefalonia. Other exhibits includes heirlooms and other ecclesiastic items, pictures, paintings, maps, manuscripts, coins, jewels, silver and metal craftworks and much more. In a special chamber in the museum’s basement, the Historical Archives of Kefalonia display historical manuscripts from the 16th-19th Centuries. The building also houses the Korgialenios Library which was founded in 1924 with money donated from Marinos Korgialenios, after whom the library was named. The library was extensively damaged in the famous 1953 earthquake but was completely restored. Today, it is open to the public. It holds 46,000 volumes.
The Korgialenios library is housed in the museum of the same name, in Argostoli. It was founded in 1924 with money donated from Marinos Korgialenios, after whom the library was named. Although it suffered from the earthquake of 1953, the library was restored. Today, it is open to the public. It holds 46,000 volumes and many significant cultural events take place here every year.
Kounopetra is situated 9 km south of Lixouri. The location’s visitor comes across a very significant geological phenomenon. To be more specific, from the sea emerges a huge rock which, before the earthquake in 1953, used to move constantly and rhythmically. After the earthquake the rock’s base was relocated and the rock stabilized to its current place. Tradition claims that English ships tied Kounopetra with thick ropes and chains and attempted unsuccessfully to remove it.
Monastery og Panagia Atrou
The monastery of Panagia Atrou is situated a few kilometres from the port of Poros in beautiful surroundings on a green slope (500 m. in altitude). It was built in 1264 AD and is the oldest monastery on the island.
The Archaeolofical Museum in Argostoli
The Archaeological Museum in Argostoli is best known for its important exhibits from the Mycenaean period but is also has exhibits from the prehistoric and post-Mycenaean era including sculptures from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras. Among the most significant exhibits are a bronze head from the 3rd Century BC and a plaque ‘Tripis Damatri Ke Kora’ from the 6th – 7th Century BC, dedicated to goddess Demetter and her daughter Persephone. The sign was found in the location of ancient Krani.
The Beacon of Agioi Theodori
The beacon is situated in Fanari, near Argostoli. It was built in 1820 to an English design. During an earthquake in 1953, it was destroyed, but it has been restored to its original state. It is a dual beacon of Doric rhythm that looks over the village of Lixouri and Katavothres.
The Castle of Assos
The castle (Kastro) of Assos, the focal point of Assos’s peninsula, was built by the Venetians in the late 16th Century in order to protect Assos city from pirate raids. Today, one can still admire part of the walls and the arched entrance gate. In the Castle, one can see the ruins of the Venetian High Commissioner’s house, the barracks and the church of Agios Markos. From here, the view of the sea and the lovely bay of Mirtos is so unique, it attracts many tourists.
The Cave of Agios Gerasimos
The Cave of Agios Gerasimos, the island’s patron saint, stands 3 km south of Argostoli. In its interior, there is a chapel with guest use for the pilgrims who visit the Cave on the saint’s feast day. According to tradition, the saint was born in Trikala of Korinthia and was a member of the famous Notaras family. He became a monk and spent 12 years in the Holy Land and five years in Zakynthos. In 1560, he took possession of the Cave and stayed there until he founded his monastery at the village Peratata.
The Cave of Melissani
The water-filled cave of Melissani, outside Sami, is one of the most memorable sights on Kefalonia. In 1951, an ancient lamp, now on display in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli, was found there and. I and in 1963 excavations brought to light objects related to the nymph Melissanthi for whom the cave is named. Among the finds were a statuette, and an earthen tray with a depiction of Pan. The cave is 40 metres in width, 36 metres in height, and 3.5 metres in length. The crystal-clear water is between 20 and 30 metres in depth. Visitors view the cave from small boats.
The Monastery of Agios Gerasimos
Saint Gerasimos is the patron saint of Kefalonia. According to tradition he was born in Trikala of Korinthia and was a member of the famous Notaras family. He became a monk and spent twelve years in the Holy Land and five years in Zakynthos. He came to Kefalonia in 1560 where he lived in a cave south of Argostoli. Later, he founded the monastery and lived there until his death on 15 August, 1579. Two years later, on 20 October, 1581, his relics were placed inside the monastery. He was canonized in 1622. The monastery courtyard has a well, which is said to have been dug by the saint himself. Inside, accessed by a trap-door, is where he is said to have spent the greater part of his life. On the 15th of August and the 20th of October, big festivals and processions take place at the monastery. Many miracles are connected to the saint’s relics and icon.
The Ruins of Ancient Krani
The ruins of Ancient Krani are situated on the bank of the Lagoon of Koutavos, opposite Argostoli, in a green area with running water. Excavations discovered ruined buildings, walls and a Doric temple dedicated to the goddess Demetra. These findings date back to the 7th and 6th century BC. Some of the finds are exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli. Krani was one of the four most prominent towns on the island during the Mycenaean Era
The Ruins of Ancient Sami
The town of Sami is built at the foot of the Agioi Fanendoi and Palaiokastro hills. The area has been settled since the Palaeolithic times. The historian, Thucydides speaks of the four cities of Kefalonia of which Sami was one. Ancient Sami was a prosperous and powerful town. It was founded by Agaios, son of Arkadia’s king Lykourgos. During Classical and Hellenistic times Sami flourished because trade and the exploitation of timber from Mount Ainos.
Excavations have found parts of two citadels, built in the Hellenistic period, and fortified walls of the ancient walled city which stood north of the present town. The excavation site also includes parts of an ancient aqueduct, traces of an ancient theatre, buildings, a part of a Roman edifice known as “Rakospito”, and three 3rd Century BC tombs. Some of the discoveries are now on display in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli. Ruins of ancient Sami are also preserved in the contemporary town of Sami.