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Northern Ithika and Traces of Odysseus

courtsey NASA ithika ithaki ionian greek islandIthika is dwarfed by its neighbor Kephallonia, the larger of the two major islands in the photo. On Ithika, the narrow mountainous stretch which connects Ithika's northern and southern sections is called Eagle or Aetos and only 500 m wide. Perched there, overlooking three seas, is the so called Castle of Odysseus even though its citadel of cyclopean walls dates from the 8th Century BC. It's thought to be the town of Alalkomenes. It's an impressive site and has been excavated extensively.

ithika ithaki ionian greek islandBelow that is a pebble beach and to the east in the small harbor of Piso Aetos is another good beach. Here ferries from Kefallonia's port of Sami call in.

North of Aetos is the Field of Laertes where Odysseus was tearfully reunited with his dear old dad after dispatching Penelope's suitors. There's a 2,000 year old olive tree there as well, named for Laertes.

Further north one finds the Monastery of the Katharon high on the slopes of Mt. Nirtos (784m).The Monastery was built on the site of a Temple of Athena. At the summit is the village of Anogi (top of the world). Anogi has Venetian ruins and interesting geological features. If you want to show off a photo of a very phallic 25ft monolith named Heracles when you get home, you can take a photo in Anogi.

ithika ithaki ionian greek islandAt sea level the pleasant village of Aghios Ioannis (or St. John) has a very nice and often deserted white beach, Aspros Gialos. A coast road follows the western shore of the island north from Agros as well.

Two raods meet at Stavros, the largest of the northern villages, which overlooks Polis Bay. This bay at one time was home to the Lost City of Ieroslaem which sank during the earthquake of 967 AD. The Cave of Loizois to its right has now collapsed, but earlier finds of prehistoric ceramics, Mycenaean Amphorae and inscriptions attest to the possibility of it being the Cave of the Nymphs as well.

Just to the north of Stavros another Palace of Odysseus may have been discovered at Pilikata (or the Hill of Hermes). The uppermost ruins are Venetian but below evidence points to occupation as far back as neolithic times. Within these lower Cyclopean wall were discovered inscriptions in Linear A & B which may be seen at the Stavros Archeological Museum (open 9-2, closed Mon).

From Stavros the road leads north to deserted Exogi (Beyond the Earth) and the island's most remote village set high above terraced plots. It provides wonderful views of the surrounding areas. A road descends to the islands eastern shore and the villages of Frikes and Kioni, both enchanting fishing hamlets. There are good beaches and even a hotel. Water-taxis await to take you to surrounding beaches. The area is sprinkled here and there with ancient ruins. Kioni is draped around a green hillside and has a picture perfect small harbor popular with yachties.

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