Othonoi

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Othonoi
Οθωνοί
Country Greece
Administrative region Ionian Islands
Regional unit Corfu
Municipality Corfu
Community
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Othonoi or Othoni (Greek: Οθωνοί, Italian: Fanò or Othoni) is an island and a former community of the Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Corfu, of which it is a municipal unit.[1] It is the westernmost point of Greece, located northwest of Corfu. Population 392 (2011). It is the biggest of the Diapontia Islands. In the 19th century the island used to be the capital of the Diapontia Islands municipality, which also included nearby islands of Ereikoussa, Mathraki,islets and rocks of Diakopo, Diaplo, Karavi, Kastrino, Leipso, Ostrako, Plaka, Plateia and Tracheia. It is 38 kilometers from the Italian coast.

History[edit]

At the beginning of the second millennium, the island was conquered alternatively Franks (the 11th century) and the Venetians (12th century), often attacked by pirates of Barbary and Algeria. Since the end of 1383 until 1386 the domination of Corfu brought by Charles III of Naples. In his letter he stated that on April 19, 1383 granted the usufruct of Othoni Ereikoussa, Mathraki, Diapolo and Vido, the knight Theodore Skaliti as fief. In 1537, the Turkish fleet under the command of Greek origin pirate and admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa massacred the inhabitants of the island after a long battle. In Stavros district at an altitude of 217 m. a white stone cross exists until today to commemorate that event.

The Cross in Stavros

The last settlers of Othoni apparently came from Paxos and Ioannina, Parga and the region of Epirus. Dated after the Battle of Nafpaktos in 1571,when the Turkish fleet was destroyed and the islanders began to move more safely. After the last movement, the residents of Othoni island colonized the two other small islands,Ereikoussa and Mathraki. In 1815, the English conquered Othonoi and as is said, sent to the island sick soldiers to recover because of the good climate that prevailed. The Treaty signed on March 29, 1864 between the three powers (England, France, Russia) and the Kingdom of Greece , the Ionian Islands -and Diapontia islands- passed definitively to Greek sovereignty on 21 May. On October 5, 1864, the Ionian Parliament realized the purpose of the convocation solemnly acting union with Greece one and indivisible state under the king, George I of Greece.

Name[edit]

The first name according to ancient texts of Hesychius of Alexandria (3rd BC) was Othronos. The Othonoi name meets in Procopius of Scythopolis (6th AD) as well as Thoronos by Plinios (10th century AD). Other names were Fidonisi (English: Snake island) (because of the many snakes that are said to have invaded the island and because they had once abandoned) and Φάρος/Φανός (English: lamp, Italian: Fano) because of the island's lighthouse. There are also views that came from the word Οθόνη, (English: screen) because it seems that the local sailors call like that the sails of the boats.

Mythology[edit]

Odysseus meets Calypso

According to a legend, in the ancient times it was the island of nymph Calypso (mythology) who lived in a large cave. Odysseus fell in love and remained like a prisoner there for seven years. Homer called thιs island Ogygia. Due to his scriptures there was a strong scent of cypress on Ogygia island. Othonoi is a place with many of these trees. Odysseus left the island by a raft and he sank on Scheria the island of Corfu . This is an extra element that justifies the legend of Othonoi being Ogygia, because of the short distance that separates the two islands.

Othonoi early history[edit]

Most Othoniotes (local dialect: Thoniotes) have migrated to Corfu, Athens and abroad (especially to the USA) because of the unemployment and few exploitable resources (1900-1960). Most men of that time were involved in nautical professions (sailor, bosun, carpenter, captain, skipper etc.) and worked on commercial ships which were operating in every part of earth. Main occupation of current residents is tourism, fishing and olive production. Previously there has been significant cultivation of vines, the beekeeping and livestock.

Chorio, Othonoi island

Settlements[edit]

Except Ammos, which is the port and the center of the island there are several small villages with traditional houses: Chorio, Daphni (including Fragoplatika and Mogiatika), Vitsentziatika, Argyratika, Deletatika, Damaskatika, Papadatika, Mastoratika, Kasimatika, Benardatika, Pagalatika, Katsouratika, Stavros etc. . In Avlakia is the new made port for ferries, big boats and yachts.

Sights[edit]

To the west of the island, near the Aspri ammos beach (accessible only by boat), is the cave of Calypso. There are many old churches like the Holy Trinity church (1892) at Ammos, Panagia church near Stavros, Saint George church (c. 1750) at Chorio, Agia Paraskevi (1700) and the old stone mill in Damaskatika. At the northeast end of Kastri cape hilltop at an altitude of 100 m near the ruins of the Venetian fortress is the lighthouse of Othoni which was built in 1872. It is 13 metres (43 ft) height and it is the first lighthouse encountered by those who sail from the north to the Aegean Sea. It emits a white blink every 10 seconds and is visible within 21 nautical miles. It was announced as a permanent exhibit of folklore of the island.

Calypso cave

Beaches[edit]

The most of them are accessible by boat (Ammos, Molos, Kamini, Kanoula, Kontoskes, Rogi, Fyki bay, Xilosermi, Aspri Ammos etc.). Also, there is great interest for diving underwater photography because of the peculiar geomorphology of the seabed and the many caves. Other points of interest are the Moshopontikas, Xylosermi, Fyki bay (where there is the sunken wreck of Sarah ship). Othoni was one of the favorite plants of the famous French naturalist Jacques Cousteau and exploratory vessel Calypso (ship).

Trails[edit]

The traditional trail' created and used by the first inhabitants, today are ready to use again thanks to the services of the municipality and private initiatives. They give the opportunity for locals and visitors to reach on foot almost every neighborhood and part of the island. Imerovigli (Merovigli) is the highest peak of the island. With a height of over 390 metres (1,280 ft) is easily accessible in a short time thanks to the traditional path that leads to the top of the mountain. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful views of the Ionian sea and Adriatic sea.

Imerovigli

Nature[edit]

Flora[edit]

The island is almost completely covered by trees which produce a small species of olive, the "Elea the cherry" (Olea microcarpa), commonly Lianolia or ladoelia, with a high content of high quality oil, which is common in all the Ionian Islands. It is dense because of the Venetian occupation, so most are aged 300–400 years overcoming a height of seven meters.

Also, there are cypresses on almost all mountain slopes and lots of fruit. The tall mulberry (or Skamnia) and fig (or Skeria) are found in nearly all districts and gardens that host many species of fruit and vegetables, and features large cabbage called by Othoniotes cramps, as in Cyprus. The most of houses instead of tents or sheds have pergolas with vines or pergoulies. Oregano, sage and many other herbs thrive in large number.

Fauna[edit]

Othoni is the first migratory bird stations in southeastern Europe from Libya and especially turtle doves. There are sufficient number of grouse and snipe (xilokotes) during the winter months. Also Petritis (type of falcon), the Melisofagos (type of bird), the Vrachochelidono (the martin a sort of swallow), the raven and some species of eagles.

There are several hares and rabbits. The usual form is a kind reptile viper (Vipera ammodytes or astritis).

Marine mammals have been observed: the bottlenose dolphin, at least three species of sharks (including the famous white shark), while sporadically near the cave of Calypso observed movements of the Mediterranean seal Monachus. also found almost all varieties of marine fauna, such as the white sea bream, red mullet, the snapper, the grouper, the bumpkin (weighing up to 30 pounds), octopus, moray, the stingray, lobster. Remarkable is the presence of barnacles and sea urchins. Zooplankton is in small coves of the island and especially in seaweed is so abundant that at night, when there is calm, it literally lights up the bottom.

Access[edit]

Coastal transport[edit]

The island is accessible by boat with regular services from Corfu port and Agios Stefanos Avliotes. The port of Ammos, which is the most populous district has several tourist facilities with small guesthouses, restaurants, rent-a-bike store, cafes, police station, community clinic with ambulance and port authority. There is a new port in Avlakia district (with fishing port), for several small private yachts and boats.

Other transport[edit]

The island has a heliport on lantern place for emergencies. They were new asplat roads all around the island. (about 12 km long)and are extended to all settlements. There is complete electrification and telephone network with Internet access.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)