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The pretty harbour of Fiscardo in Kefalonia, Greece


Fiskardo (Fiscardo), Kefalonia, Greece .... Fiskardo is the island's northern-most port and is a well known anchorage for yachts. It took its name from the Norman leader Robert Guiscard, who, during his second invasion of Kefalonia, died of a heart attack on July 17th 1085 near Cape Panormos. It is said that originally he was buried there. Panormos was changed to Piskardo after Guiscard and after the 13th century it became Fiskardo. Because of a peculiarity in the underlying geological strata here, the town was seemingly miraculously saved from the wrath of the earthquake in 1953.

Pretty painted houses in the cosmopolitan resort of Fiscardo, Kefalonia

Fiskardo is considered by some to be the island's most picturesque town, as the English traveller Miller contended in the 19th century. In 1975 Fiskardo was declared a traditional town protected by law from unseemly development. If you leave your car in the parking area you can wander through the narrow streets lined with traditional 18th century houses, with tiled roofs and tiny balconies entwined with grapevines.

Fiskardo has every amenity to offer the visitor. Its jetty has been turned into a shopping centre with tourist shops, tavernas and bars and of course fishing boats, caiques, luxury craft and speedboats. One of the traditional buildings has a mermaid holding a ship painted on its fa├žade. From the middle of the harbour steps lead up to the Church of Panagia tis Platiteras. Where the church stands today there was in Byzantine times a country chapel. Around 1680 artisans from Souli built a monastery which was demolished in the earthquakes of 1767. It was rebuilt and became quite prosperous during the 19th century. The 1953 earthquakes created the ruins visible today behind the sanctuary. An important fresco dating from 1676 has been attributed to K. Tzane Bounialis.

Fiscardo harbour Kefalonia

Next to the Panormos Hotel, a fence encloses Roman baths and a necropolis discovered by A. Sotiriou. These ruins date from 150-200 AD, and include four carved stone sarcophagi with representations of Artemis. The sarcophagi had been desecrated, but the artefacts brought to light in the excavations (jewellery, coins, etc.) are important and enlightening.

Opposite the village, on Fournias peninsula, stand the ruins of an early Christian basilica dating from the 6th century; there was possibly an ancient temple of Apollo on the same site. Recently, Professor G. Kavadias discovered stone tools from the Paleolithic Era. Kavadias stresses the similarity of the inhabitants of the Fiskardo settlement to those of neighbouring Epirus, the Peloponnese and southern Italy, which proves that they were in contact with each other. According to the geographer Joseph Partsch, the ancient town was a dependency of Same.

The sea between Fiskardo and Ithaki, where the water is 165m deep, is home to the Mediterranean Seal (Monachus monachus). Its existence was mentioned by Homer. It takes refuge in sea-caves and lives on fish and octopuses. It usually gives birth to only one pup. This likeable animal is threatened with extinction, due in part to illegal fishing practices, but mainly to the development of tourism. It is the duty of each one of us to avoid disturbing the seals and to report to the authorities anything we think may be harmful to the defenceless animals or their young.

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