Ithaca Island (Ιθάκη)

Ithaca Island



Location: Ionian Islands Map


Description of Ithaca Island

"I dwell in shining Ithaca. There is a mountain there, high Neriton, covered in forests. Many islands lie around it, very close to each other, Doulichion, Same, and wooded Zacynthos-- but low-lying Ithaca is farthest out to sea, towards the sunset, and the others are apart, towards the dawn and sun. It is rough, but it raises good men." (Odyssey)


Ithaca Island is historic home of legendary Odysseus that is full of interesting places to explore. As you enter fjord like harbor you will see two French forts build here in 1805. Small island called Lazaretto was used by Venetians as a quarantine station since 1665 and from 1864 it was converted to prison. Now it is home to a church. Notable sights in this city include Archeological museum (Kallinikou, Ithaca town, tel (26740) 32200 closed mon) and Folklore museum ( Ithaca town, closed sun and mon). Cave of the Nymphs two miles from Ithaca is a place where Odysseus supposedly buried his wealth.


Ithaca island consists of the pre-existing Municipality of Ithaca (Vathi) and seven Municipal Districts, mountainous and coastal. Vathi, a picturesque town with a peculiar bay that encloses the island of Lazaretto and its two Venetian castles. During the peak summer months the population more than doubles.

The island was named after Ithaca, the first inhabitant of the island (son of Pterelaos and brother of Polyktor and Niritos) or according to mythology he was the son of Poseidon and Amfimeli. According to another hypothesis, the name comes from the word Ithi (= cheerful) or from the word Ithis (= steep).

Vathi and the local districts of Anogi, Stavros and Kionio have been characterized as Traditional Settlements, while the whole island has been characterized as of special natural beauty.

Ithaca presents a rich division on the east coast, characterized by many bays and capes. The northernmost tip of the island is Cape Melissa, while the southernmost is Cape Agios Andreas. Between these two ends are inserted the bay of Frikon, the cape of Mavronas, the cape of Agios Ilias, the bay of Molos, the cape of Schinos and other capes. The length of the coasts reaches a total of 101 km. On the island there are Mount Niritos (806 meters) and Merovigli (669 meters). It has beaches of incredible beauty, such as Gidaki beach.

Characteristic of the island is its barren lands and water scarcity, which hinder the development of agriculture. The island relies financially mainly on tourism and seafaring. The name of the island is known since antiquity, as it refers to the Odyssey. The general assessment of the experts accepts the identification of today's with Homeric Ithaca, explaining that the differences from the described topography in the Odyssey arose either due to ignorance of the topography of the island by the poet, or due to "poetic permission".