Ithaki, Odysseus Island, is one of the most famous in Greece from ancient times until our days. The island rhapsodized by Homer as no other, personifies the love for home, the desire and nostalgia for returning to it, but also the journey to knowledge. A journey that begins and ends to this mythical island.
Ithaki is identified as the homeland of Odysseus. He left it and wondered around, suffered a lot, without forgetting his island.
The island is inhabited since Neolithic Age (4000 – 3000 BC) and according to ancient authors was named after king Pterelao’s son, Ithakos. At all historic times Ithaki or Thiaki kept its name. Although Odysseus palace was not discovered yet, it is believed that there was his kingdom. According to a version the remains of the Ancient Acropolis found in Aetos hill belong to Odysseus palace.
Findings from Loizos Cave and Pilikatika certify the island’s inhabitance since ancient times. Homer reports these places in his epics and are coincided with the nature of Ithaki.
According to historians Odyssey begins around 1174BC with the arrival of Odysseus in Ithaki after his 10-year itinerancy. Odysseus was a king until his death. His son Tilemachos succeeded to the throne.
At all historic times Ithaki followed the fate of all Ionian Islands. It met a lot of conquerors, times of bloom and decline. More specific:
In 1000 – 800 BC Dorians conquer Ithaki and later Corinthians.
In 180 BC Romans conquer Ithaki and stay in the island until 394 BC. During this period most of the people lived in the north part of the island. After 394 BC Ithaki comes to the hands of the Byzantine Empire. All people then Christianize and many churches and monasteries are built.
In 1185 Normands come to the island and Ithaki is in the hands of Orsini.
In 1204 Turkish conquer Ithaki and in 1357 Venetians. It is the period that the island suffers from pirate invasions.
In 1479 Turkish plunder Ithaki and kill most of the people.
In 1503 the island is sold to Venetians, who stay in the island until 1797, when Ionian islands come to the hands of French. Valhi then becomes the island’s capital.
In 1809 the period of the English Rule begins and establishes the independent state “United States of Ionian Islands”.
In 1864 Ionian Islands adjust to Greece.
During the latest historic times the islands modernizes. Public buildings are structured, roads open, while in Vathi operates an electric-lightening factory. The island’s shipping develops gradually and spiritual life animates.
In 1953 a severe earthquake destroyed most settlements. Ithakisians with help from the Greek State rebuilt their villages.
Today Ithaki is a famous tourist destination. Thousands of tourists visit it – on a daily trip from Kefalonia – in order to meet Odysseus homeland.