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SHORT HISTORY OF KEFALLONIA

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From the stone tools found in “Spilios” position in Haliotata, and in Fournia peninsula in Fiscardo it has been concluded that Kefallonia has been inhabited since pre-historic times. Kefallonia was a great Mycenean centre (from the 13th c) and together with Ithaca were unbreakable connected to Ulysses (1184-1174 b.C.).

Doric temples of the 7th and 6th c. declare the high level of Kefallonian Civilization. “TETRAPOLIS” is how the historian Thucydides named the island. Kefallonia was divided into four independent, autonomous and democratic City- States: Krani, Palli, Sami and Pronnoi. The Gods worshiped in Kefallonia and the arcaeological finds as well prove the connection of the island with the mainland of Greece. In 188 b.C. Kefallonia was entirely conquered by the Romans. During the Byzantine period Kefallonia formed the homonymous independent Nautical Thema (9th – 11th c.) in order to contribute to the defense of the vast Byzantine Empire. From time to time the island suffered many and frequent raids. Robert Guiscard occupied the island temporarily as did Roger II of Cicely and Margaritone. In 1195 sovereignty was taken over by the Orsini family and in 1357 it was given to the Tocchi. The short but tough Turkish occupation ended with the conquest of the Castle of St. George, the capital of the island, by the Venetian and the Spanish fleet in 1500.

The Venetian domination lasted 300 years. In 1797 started the French occupation. The next year the allied Russian and Turkish fleet foster the revolution against the French and in 1800- 1807 was formed the “Eptanisos State”. The short French domination (1807- 1809) was halted by the British who ruled the island until 1864 when Kefallonia and Ithaca were united with Greece.  From 1940 to 1943 Kefallonia was dominated by the Italians. In September 1943, during the Italian- German conflict, thousands of Italian soldiers from the Acqui division were slaughtered by the Germans. During the same period Kefallonia was bombed by the Germans resulting in many deaths and property destruction. The short German domination was followed by the fierce Civil War. The catastrophic earthquakes of August of 1953 changed the island thoroughly and altered its course in history. Argostoli and most of the villages were totally ruined with a great number of injured and dead. In the years following the earthquake, migration and maritime employment emerged as the solution to unemployment. This resulted in a sharp decline in population and cultural, economic and social inertia.

The reversal comes about in the 80’s. In the 1981 census, the Prefecture of Kefallonia rates first in population decline in Greece. Twenty years later, in the 2001 census, the island came first in population increase in the country. Today it continues its dynamic development and is considered one of the most rapidly developing tourist areas in Greece.

Evridiki Livada

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