Lefkada, or Leucas (Λευκάδα, le̞fˈkaða; ancient Greek and Katharevousa: Λευκάς, Leukás; Santa Maura) is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea on the west coast of Greece, connected to the mainland by a long causeway and floating bridge. The city of Lefkada, is at the north of the island, approximately 20 minutes by automobile away from Aktion National Airport. The Prefecture of Lefkada comprises Lefkada island plus the smaller nearby islands of Meganisi, Kalamos, Kastos, Madouri, Skorpios, and Sparti. It is the smallest prefecture of Greece in both land area and population (2001 census).
Lefkada Town (population: 6,903), has a pedestrianised main street, a marina, and bus access to Athens.
The myth about Sappho's suicide at Cape Lefkada is related to other myths linking the island to the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite
, and to Odysseus
, the hero of Homer
's Odyssey. The German
archaeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld
, having performed excavations at various locations of Lefkada, was able to obtain funding to do work on the island by suggesting that Lefkada was Homer's Ithaca
, and the palace
of Odysseus was located west of Nidri
off the south coast of Lefkada. There have been suggestions by local tourism officials that several passages in the Odyssey
point to Lefkada as a possible model for Homeric Ithaca. The most notable of these passages pushed by the local tourism board describes Ithaca as an island reachable on foot, which was the case for Lefkada since it is not really an island, that it was connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway.
The east coast section of the island has small resorts
, all north of the largest resort on the island—Nidri
. It is set in a sheltered location with views across to Skorpios
—owned by Aristotle Onassis
and other small islands, as well as the Greek mainland. The main coastal road from Lefkada to Vasiliki runs through the town, although a bypass is being built. There are regular car ferries to Kefalonia
20km south of Nidri is the resort of Vasiliki—a windsurfing center. There are ferries here to Kefalonia and Ithaca. South of Vasiliki is Cape Lefkada, where the Greek female poet Sappho allegedly leapt to her death from the 100 foot (30m) high cliffs.
The West coast, facing the great expanse of the Mediterranean, has the famed beach of Porto Katsiki. Lefkada was attached to mainland Greece (see above about Homer's Ithaca being Lefkada). The Corinthians dug a trench in the 7th century BC on its isthmus.
The island has a typical Mediterranean climate: hot summers and cool winters, especially in the mountains.
Municipalities and communities
Note: Meganisi, Kalamos, and Kastos are all on separate islands, whereas the rest of the above are actually on Lefkada Island
See also: List of settlements in the Lefkada prefecture
(in chronological order)
- Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), Irish-Japanese orientalist and writer, named after the island
- Dimitrios Golemis (1874-1941), athlete
- Aggelos Sikelianos (1884-1951), poet and playwright
- Tzavalas Karousos or Karoussos (1904-1969), actor
- Panos Rontoyannis (1911-1996), philologist and historian
- Theodoros Stamos (1922-1997), Greek-American painter
- Apostolos Kaklamanis (1936), politician
- Agnes Baltsa (1944), opera singer
- Elli Stai (1954), journalist and talk show presenter
- Maria Vamvakinou (1959), Greek-Australian politician
- Spyros Vrettos (1960), poet
- Evagelia Aravani (1985), fashion model
The fictional island Malden from the Video Game Operation Flashpoint
is based on Lefkada.