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The word Ithaca comes from the Greek hero's name Ithicos; however, it has numerous other originations as well. According to one school of thought, the word originates from the Phoenician word utica meaning colony. The word however has more Greek connotations. It is thought to be traced to a Greek word ithy which means cheerful and to another ithys meaning straight. It is an ancient word and is often referred to in ancient scriptures with various names such as Anticephallonia, Thiaki, Val di Compare, Teaki and Nerikii. Ithaca is a Greek island northeast in the Ionian Sea. It is better known for a natural harbor located in the capital, Ithaki, that falls among the worlds largest. The harbor is surrounded by a piece of land known as the Island of the Savior- Lazaretto Islet. The island is so named after the Church of the savior situated there. It is also home to an ancient prison- a perfect architectural indication of the island's rich past.
Ithaca is actually a collection of bays and capes that surround the main island of Ithaca. Included among the Bays are Ormos Gulf, Afales Bay, Kioni Bays and Frikes. Included among the capes are Melissa, Exogi, Agios Ilias, Sarakiniko, Agiou Andreou, Mavronos, Agios Ioannis and Schinous. The island has an ancient history- it is thought to be the home of the ancient Greek mythological hero of the Greek War of Independence, Odysseus Androutsos. The traces of life date as far back in time as the 2nd Millennium BC. The earliest traces of life, i.e. remains of a building, a road and walls, originate from the Neolithic Era. Life continued on into and through the Hellenic Era and into 1500 BC that marks the migration of people to a part of the island. The lifestyle of the then people was still very primitive as is indicated by the archeological remains.
Ithaca rose to the peak of its stature in the Mycenaean Period when it was designated the capital of Cephalonia. This period is characterized by various expeditions extending as far as the Mediterranean Sea. The people of Ithaca earned themselves the reputation of being excellent navigators and explorers. However, with the end of the Mycenaean Period, Ithaca's glory ended. Ithaca came under the rule of the Corinth in the early Hellenic era who paid little attention towards its development. Consequently, it suffered considerable neglect. Independent life continued but there was no properly planned life. It suffered from continuous pirate attacks. Hence most of the life was clustered in the mountains than on the plains or the shores since the channel between Cephalonia and Ithaca was in the pirates' control.
It was in the Ottoman era that the Turks set foot on the island and eventually claimed it in the year 1484. The Turkish rule lasted for a short period of 15 years before falling to the allied Venetians and the Spanish forces that had entered through the Ionian Islands. A treaty was signed in 1503 that gave control of the island of Lefkada to the Turks while the Venetians maintained control of Zante, Ithaca and Cephalonia. The Ithacans welcomed the French rule a few years later. The French established efficient administrative and judicial systems that paved the way for development. However, this was only short lived for the French imposed enormous taxes that served as a cause of discontentment among the masses.
With the end of the French rule came breath of fresh air. The allied Russians and Turks succeeded the French and put an end to the monarchial rule. They set up a democratic government and granted a seat to Ithaca in the recently established senate. The period saw the flourish of the Ithacan fleet. They transported cargo farther out to the Black Sea. In 1804, through an agreement with the Turks, the French reoccupied the Ionian Islands and began fortifications in anticipated attack from the rising British. They built a fort at Vathy for the purpose. The Greeks rose against the Turkish rule in 1824 in the Greek war of Independence. The people of Ithaca played their part in the freedom fight. Their contributions in the naval battles against the Turkish at Danube and the Black Sea were particularly commendable. With the Help of the English troops, the Ionian Islands were liberated and became an independent state under the Treaty of Paris and were later ceded to Greece under the Treaty of London as a mark of cordiality to the new king of Greece. The city's rich past necessitates a visit. Go books your Ithaca Ticket right away.