Lefkada, or Lefkas is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea on the west coast of Greece, connected to the mainland by a long causeway and floating bridge. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Lefkada. It is situated on the northern part of the island, approximately 20 minutes by automobile away from Aktion National Airport. The island is part of the regional unit of Lefkada.
The myth about Sappho’s suicide at Cape Lefkada is related to other myths linking the island to the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, and to Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s Odyssey. The German archaeologistWilhelm Dörpfeld, having performed excavations at various locations of Lefkada, was able to obtain funding to do work on the island by suggesting that Lefkada was Homer’s Ithaca, and the palace of Odysseus was located west of Nydri on the south coast of Lefkada.
There have been suggestions by local tourism officials that several passages in the Odyssey point to Lefkada as a possible model for Homeric Ithaca. The most notable of these passages pushed by the local tourism board describes Ithaca as an island reachable on foot, which was the case for Lefkada since it is not really an island, that it was connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. According to Strabo, the coast of Acarnania was called Leucas in earlier times. The ancient sources call Leucas a Corinthian colony, perhaps with a Corcyraen participation.During the Peloponnesian War Leucas had joined the Spartan Confederation.
Aghia Mavra Castle: In 1204 the island was incorporated to the dominion of Hepiros, but from the year 1294 Lefakada came into the hands of the French, since it was given as an offering to John, Count of Orsini, who later built the nucleus of the Aghia Mavra Castle, still erect today at the island’s entrance. The history of the island, since the 14th century and until it’s incorporation with the Greek state, is full of events – milestones of long historical adventure.
Nirikos: The ancient city of Nirikos, 7th century b.c., which was discovered in Kalligoni at Koulmos, was the island’s first capital. It was surrounded by a great wall, of which only a small part is left. The history of Lefkada, from the 7th century b.c. after becoming a Corinthian colony up until the Roman conquer, is politically connected to the city of Corinthos, which Lefkada followed in all important events of the time: the Salamina naval battle, the battle of Platees, the Peloponnesian war as an ally to the Spartans and the expedition of Alexander the Great.
Ducato or Lefkatas capeThe name of the island “Lefkada” routed from the name “Lefkas Petra” or “Lefkas Akra”, an ancient name of today’s Leukata, the southern cape of the island. The wild white rocks of the cape where, according to, the poet Sapfo ended her life in the name of love, gave the name to the city, the Corinthians founded in Lefkada, and then to the entire island. According to geographer Stravonas they renamed the ancient city of Nirikos to Lefkada, capital of the island.
Museums of Lefkada
Archaeological Museum: The Archaeological Museum of Lefkada is housed in the newly-constructed building of the Cultural Centre in Lefkada Town. Its four rooms cover a large chronological period, from the Paleolithic times till the late Roman years. In the first room, there are exhibits depicting life from the public and private life of the islanders in the historical times.
Phonographs Museum: The private museum of phonographs is placed in the main square of Lefkada town, close to the old city. It was founded in 1980 by a private collector and contains some very interesting items including models of old phonographs, gramophones and radios.
The museum also houses many decorative items, from which some musical instruments stand out, apart from old newspapers, old postcards, guns, swords, pieces of jewellery and coins, which generally date from 1880 to 1950.
The Ecclisiastic Museum of Faneromeni Monastery in Lefkada: The Ecclesiastic Museum of the Faneromeni Convent is ideally located on the outskirts of the village of Fryni, which is at 4 Km from the picturesque town of Lefkada. The majestic museum of Ecclesiastic Art showcases objects of art collected from the many temples and convents of Lefkada island spanning a period from the second Turkish occupation (1479-1684) to the time of the islands amalgamation with mainland Greece in the year 1864.
The museum is housed in an elegant two story edifice ideally located on the grounds of the Holy Convent and has designer rooms exclusively meant for the display of a plethora of objects of ecclesiastical art. The majority of the exhibits consists of rare paintings of renowned Eptanese and Lefkadite artists of the post Byzantine period. Objects of the museum include icons and pieces of chancel screens like magisterial icons, epistyles and exquisite door panels. Of special significance is the plethora of ecclesiastical manuscripts and antique prints that once belonged to the convents library.
The museum is replete with outstanding publications by Greek and foreign printers who belonged to the pro-revolution and the revolution years. Mention must be made of the exquisite silver works consisting primarily of crosses, candelabra, grails, trays, icon frames as well as gospel covers. The museum also takes prides in its numerous canonicals and cloths dating back to the 18th century.