Ionian History

Ionian History

Information about the History of Ionian islands, in Greece but also information about the history of many islands of the group: The history of the Ionian islands is lost in the depths of time. The first inhabitants of the Ionian islands appeared during the Paleolithic times and left traces mostly in the islands of Kefalonia island and Corfu island. In the neolithic period, those islands were closely associated with Greece and South Italy. The first Greeks are traced during the Bronze age and according to the archaeological evidence the Minoans were also attracted by the Ionian islands.

The first references of Ionian history and culture were found in the epics of Homer. Some of the descriptions in the Odyssey are strongly identified with the areas of Corfu island and Lefkada island. During the historic times, Corfu was a strong economical and maritime power with its own colonies. From the 2nd century BC, the islands are under the Roman Empire and become easy preys in the hands of the pirates. From the 11th century until 1797, the islands are under the Venetian rule and in 1799 they pass to the French domination. Only Lefkada is under the Ottoman occupation from 1476 until 1684.

The first island that was captured by the Venetians was Kythira island and 23 years later, Corfu submitted voluntarily to the Venetian culture. After one century, in 1485, they occupied Zakynthos island, in 1500 they arrived in Kefalonia and in 1503 in Ithaca island. The conquest of the whole Ionian complex was completed with the island of Lefkada in 1797. During that time, Venetians built defensive constructions.

In 1799, the Ionian islands were surrendered to the Russian Turks. In the recent years, from 1815 to 1864, the islands are under the British protection. It is the period of cultural prosperity, in Corfu the Ionian Academy opens again, the first Greek University. After they became part of Greece, the World War II left many casualties and damages.

It is without a doubt that the Ionian culture had been strongly influenced by the west and the numerous conquerors, especially the Venetians who managed to leave enduring symbols of their culture like monuments, fortresses and castles, in Kefalonia, Lefkada and in Zakynthos. However, the finest examples are found in Corfu, the jewel of the venetian architecture. The British architecture survives to this day in Corfu. The Italian influence is also evident in the music with the characteristic song kantada that is famous in Corfu.

Read also: Ionian Geography | Ionian Museums

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