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a short journey into history

During the Mycenaean Period the island was part of the Odysseus kingdom experiencing great wealth mainly due to the timber of the Ainos forest, shipbuilding and shipping. With the division of the Roman State in the beginning of the 9th century, Kefalonia entered the Byzantine Empire and constituted the seat of the administrative region of the Ionian Islands. In 1153 it was subjected to the state of Lower Italy only to be later surrendered to the Roman Count Maio Orsini (1204) and the House of Tocco (1357). After continuous invasions, the Ottomans finally took over the island in 1479.

The brief Turkish occupation was succeeded by a long-lasting period of Venetian Rule (1500- 1797) at which time Kefalonia was the strategic junction for the Venetian Fleet. This period signified a landmark for the island; great fortification works were carried out, the capital was transferred to Argostoli (1757) and the spiritual developments were accompanied by economical prosperity as well as a marked difference in the classes due to the Venetian’s administrative system of aristocracy. The Kefalonians, supporters of radical ideas from early on in time, welcomed the French democrats in 1797 with much enthusiasm; however, with the enforcement of a pain-staking economical policy by the new conquerors, their enthusiasm soon diminished.

After a consecutive and brief period of occupation by the Russians and the reoccupation by the Franks, in 1809, British sovereignty commenced under the Swiss commander Philip de Bosset as did a new era of prosperity. The famous Drapanos stone bridge, which connects Argostoli to the opposite coast, was constructed in 1813. The Treaty of Paris subjecting the islands to British protection under the name “The United States of the Ionian Islands” was signed in 1815. New public buildings and many infrastructure projects were constructed under the English governor Sir Charles Napier, who changed the island’s appearance and determinatively contributed to the development in the arts. At the same time however, the period of British rule was marked with the birth of the radical movement, the resistance against the British and battles for the nation’s liberation, which Kefalonians whole-heartedly took part in.

During the Reunion of the Ionian Islands with the liberated mainland Greece in 1864, Kefalonian representatives of the Ionian Parliament in a pioneering manner put forward both significant and innovative social demands. World War II was marked by the German Occupations, huge destructions and the tragedy of the Infantry Division Acqui. In 1953, continuous earthquakes finalised the
work of the war and levelled the island with the most damage being in the southern part. The years that followed were characterised by mass exodus/immigration and the enormous efforts to restore and reconstruct the island. Even to this day, the vivacious local community is distinguished by the restless and liberated spirit of its citizens and has significantly contributed to the political, spiritual and economical revival of contemporary Greece.

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