History of Lefkada

Lefkada's History

Human traces in Lefkada can be found in the Paleolithic era. W. Dorpfeld distinguished archeologist and   Schliemann’s collaborator during  Troy’s excavation, carried out extensive archeological researches at Nidri. There he brought to light important finds from Copper Age(2000 BC) and he framed the theory that Lefkada is Ithaka in Homer.

Two kilometers outside and in the east of the town, going through an  olive grove, the visitor can get to Kaligoni.  The area is an archeological site –because here was the ancient town of Lefkada which was called Nirikos-and it stretches to the areas of Tsechlibous, Kaligoni, Kariotis and Liyas.

This archeological site consists of ruins of the Ancient Lefkada  settlement enclosed with walls. These ruins date back from the Archaic to the Roman  period. Nirikos is the most long-lived capital of the island of Lefkada until 1300 AD. It has travelled a remarkable historic course from the ancient times with the name “Nirikos” and later during the Korinthians time with the name “Nirikos- Lefkas” and survived until the late Byzantine period with the name “Kastro”.

During the Byzantine years Lefkada is part of the Byzantine Empire and during the late Byzantine period(1204-1294 AD) Lefkada was part of the Epirus domain.

In 1294 the island was given to Ioanni Orsini son of the Count of Kefalinia as a dowry. He started building the castle of Agia Mavra which stands until today in the entrance of the island. The castle protected the capital of the island and was the most important defense against the pirates and the other enemies from the first decade of the 14th century until 1684.

In 1331 deposed Duke of\Athens Valteros Vrienios seizes Lefkada and subjugates it to the Andegavous of Naples.

In 1355 Vrienios gives away the domain of Lefkada to his confidant and financial “donor” Gratiano Giorgi from Venice. During Giorgi’s domain in 1357 the peasants of the island rebelled. This rebellion was called “the rebellion of the goad” and in the 19th century it inspired the famous poet from Lefkada Valaoriti Aristoteli to write his work “Fotinos”.

From 1362until 1479 Lefkada ispart of the Tokki  state. During this century, that is the 14th, the capital which now  it is named Agia Mavra is transferred into the walls of the castle and to the two districts: in the east(Alli Meria) and in the west(Chora) of the castle.

In 1479 Lefkada is conquered by the Ottoman’s. For two years (1502-1503) the island is under the Venetian domination. Then and for a prolonged period which finished in 1684(totally 203 years) the island is again under the Ottoman domination. During this period the capital of the island was  Agia Mavra and it was within the walls of the castle.

In 1684 Lefkada is occupied by the Venetians and they decide on a new place for the capital of the island which was situated in the same place it is today, but then it was called Amaxiki.   
In 1797 the Ionian Islands are under the full control of France and Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1798 the Russian and Turkish fleet  united against France occupies the Ionian Islands and later on they officially become a united autonomous country under the protection and the suzerainty of the Sublime Port.

In 1807 the Ionian Islands are given to the Imperial now France of Napoleon  and they become a French Province. For a very short period, from 1809until 1914the English fleet conquers the Ionian Islands one by one. Corfu is the last to be conquered. Lefkada was conquered in April 1810.

The Ionian Islands will be formally a free and independent country with the name “United Country of the Ionian Islands” under the protection of Great Britain. In 1864 they become part of the Greek territory.