Lefkada, or Leucas or Leucadia 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 (city). 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 peripheral 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 archaeologist Wilhelm 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 Nidri 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.
Places to visit in Lefkada
The Archaeological Museum
Housed in the Municipal Cultural Centre of Lefkas (Lefkada), the majority of the exhibits cover the period from Palaeolithic times up to and including later Roman times. The German archaeologist, Wilhelm Dorpfeld, was responsible for most of these exhibits, found during his excavations in the early 20th century on the island. His theory was that Lefkas (Lefkada) was in fact Homer's Ithaca, and he developed his theory with methods that set a new standard in archaeology. The museum has exhibits of tools, ceramic and copper jewellery found in ancient tombs.
During the summer months the Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 08.30 - 15.00. Closed Mondays. Admission free.
The Museum Of Gramophones
This is near the old town of Lefkas and is a small private museum exhibiting, as its name suggests, a collection of phonographs and gramophones and various other objects relating to the everyday life of the islanders. Records, coins, stamps, embroideries, photographs and traditional musical instruments are some of the items exhibited.
The Folklore Museum Of Music And Literature
This museum of Lefkas (Lefkada) was founded in 1937 and includes many significant and rare exhibits including a rich collection of objects from the everyday agriculatural and urban life of the local people. These include old traditional costumes, dolls, household utensils, and an olive press. One room has been furnished as a reconstruction of a typical room in a local house.
The castle of AGIA MAVRA
The area was named Castle of Agia Mavra in medieval years and for some time, the name applied to the whole island. According to tradition, the church was built in the 15th Century although historical sources mention the existence of Agia Mavra long before this, some historians claiming that the Franch Knights named the island around 1330, in honour of their country Agia Marva (Sainte Maura)
A Brief History
In 1479, after the islands occupation by the Turks, the Church became a mosque and a few years later an aqueduct and bridge, joining the city with the caste, was constructed.
In 1888, a fire caused the destruction of the castle however, after being renovated, it was used as barracks and a refuge camp during World War 11.
The castle suffered from many attacks and bombardments and although most of the canons were removed after the Union of the Ionian Islands, a few can still be seen today. Today the castle if open to tourist and houses many cultural events throughout the summer.
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Public Library was founded in 1953 and is situated in a traditional two-storey neoclassical Lefkadian mansion with a beautiful garden. This is on the west side of the old city of Lefkas (Lefkada). It holds a large collection of books as well as a rich collection of post-Byzantine icons and 17th century etchings by the traveller Coronelli.
A very important part of the cultural heritage of Lefkada is its traditional products.
Producing high quality olive oil, wine, citrus, honey and almonds, as well as breeding all kinds of fish and fish-roe are of special importance for the Lefkadian economy.
Especially, wine which is produced from a rare variety of “berjami” or barzamino, (which was probably brought from Venetians in 1684
The traditional embroideries of Karia are undoubtedly remarkable of art.
To the present day women still embroider and weave in the same old, traditional way they were taught by their grand-mothers, creating masterpieces. The Lefkadian weaver is the mother of the renowned woven embroideries traditionally called ‘karpeto’ and ‘mantanies’.
The mountain area is known for the unique and traditional dish of Englouvis lentils.
Special kinds of cooked meats like salami as well as different kinds of sweets like ‘mantolata’ (nougat) and pasteli (sweet of honey and sesame), and also the beverage ‘soumada’ (orgeat) are some examples of traditional products of the island.