Othonoi

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Othonoi
Native name: Οθωνοί
Nickname: Το νησί της Καλυψώς (The island of Calypso)
Othonoi 1.jpg
Othonoi island
DE Othonon.svg
Location within the regional unit of Corfu
Geography
LocationDiapontian Islands
Coordinates39°51′N 19°24′E / 39.850°N 19.400°E / 39.850; 19.400Coordinates: 39°51′N 19°24′E / 39.850°N 19.400°E / 39.850; 19.400
ArchipelagoIonian Islands
Area10.078 km2 (3.891 sq mi)
Highest elevation393 m (1,289 ft)
Highest pointImerovigli
Administration
RegionIonian Islands
Regional unitCorfu (regional unit)
Municipality Corfu
Local MayorTheodoros Loukanaris
DemonymOthonian
Capital cityAmmos
Demographics
Population392 (2011)
Additional information
Postal code49100
Area code(s)26630
Vehicle registrationKY
Official websitehttp://www.othonoi.com


Othonoi (Greek: Οθωνοί, also rendered as Othoni) is a small Greek island in the Ionian Sea, located northwest of Corfu, and is the westernmost point of Greece. Othonoi is the largest of the Diapontia Islands. It is a former community of the Ionian Islands. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Corfu, of which it is a municipal unit.[1] The municipal unit has an area of 10.078 km2 and population of 392 (2011).[2]

In the 19th century the island was 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. Othonoi is about 47 nautical miles from Santa Maria di Leuca cape, Italy.[3]

Name[edit]

The first name according to ancient texts (Hesychius, 3rd cent. BC) was "Othronos" (Οθρονός), "Othronoi" (Οθρωνοί) and by Procopius seams to be "Othonē" (Οθωνή) (6th c.). According to Pliny (1st cent.) it was "Thoronos" (Θόρονος). Other names were "Fidonisi" (Snake island) because of the many snakes that are said to have invaded the island, and "Fano" (Lamp) which is used in international charters and by the Italians because of the lighthouse situated on the island. [4]:19

History[edit]

At the beginning of the second millennium, the island was conquered alternatively by the Franks (the 11th century) and the Venetians (12th century), and often attacked by pirates of Barbary and Algeria. From the end of 1383 until 1386 the domination of Corfu was held by Charles III of Naples. In a letter from April 19, 1383 he granted the usufruct of Othonoi, Ereikoussa, Mathraki, Diapolo and Vido, to the knight Theodore Skaliti as fief.[4]:29 In 1537, the Turkish fleet under the command of Hayreddin Barbarossa massacred the inhabitants of Othoni 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.[4]:30

The Cross in Stavros

The last settlers of Othonoi apparently came from Paxos and Ioannina, Parga and the region of Epirus. This occurred 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 Othonoi island colonized the two other small islands, Ereikoussa and Mathraki.[4]:30 In 1815, the English conquered Othonoi. With the Treaty signed on March 29, 1864 between the three powers (England, France, Russia) and the Kingdom of Greece, the Ionian Islands including the Diapontian islands passed definitively to Greek sovereignty on 21 May.[4]:25–30 From 1869 until 1912 Othonoi, Ereikousa and Mathraki formed the municipality of Dimos Diapontion with Othonoi as capital.[4]:31

Sinking of submarine Protefs[edit]

On 29 December 1940, the Greek submarine Protefs sank in the sea area of Othonoi. The submarine had attacked an Italian convoy carrying ammunition to Vlorë. After sinking the steamer Sardegna, the submarine was rammed by the Italian torpedo boat Antares. The loss of the submarine was the first loss of the Greek Navy in World War II. A monument to honor the memory of the crew, was inaugurated in Othonoi on June 15, 2015.[5]

Mythology[edit]

According to a legend, in the ancient times it was the island of nymph Calypso, 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.[4]:21–22 According to Hesychius, after the Trojan War, Elephenor, king of Avantes from Euboea fled to the island after the fall of Troy, to atone as he had killed his grandfather, Abas.[4]:222

Economy[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).The main work was the olive and oil production. Most men of that time were involved in nautical professions (sailor, bosun, carpenter, captain, skipper etc.) and worked on commercial and war ships which were operating in every part of earth. Main occupations of current residents are tourism, constructions, fishing and olive production. Previously, there has been significant cultivation of vines, beekeeping and livestock.[4]:13

Settlements[edit]

Othonoi is divided into two regions which are Ano Panta (Greek: Άνω πάντα) and Kato Panta (Greek: Κάτω πάντα). There are more than 20 settlements.[4]:37

Chorio, Ano Panta, Othonoi island
Dafni, Ano Panta, Othonoi island
Othonoi map
Settlement Region
Chorio Ano Panta
Dafni (including Fragoplatika, Nikolatika and Mogiatika) Ano Panta
Stavros Ano Panta
Vitsentziatika Ano Panta
Argyratika Ano Panta
Deletatika Kato Panta
Damaskatika Ano Panta
Katsouratika Kato Panta
Ammos Kato Panta
Papadatika Kato Panta
Mastoratika Kato Panta
Kasimatika Kato Panta
Benardatika Kato Panta
Pagalatika Kato Panta
Katsouratika Kato Panta
Mihatika Kato Panta
Avlakia Kato Panta

Main sights[edit]

Aspri ammos beach, Othonoi island
Imerovigli, highest point of Othonoi island

Churches[edit]

  • Holy Trinity church (Greek: Εκκλησία Αγίας Τριάδος) (1892) at Ammos.
  • Virgin Mary church (Greek: Εκκλησία Παναγίας θεοτόκου) near Stavros district.
  • Saint George church(Greek: Εκκλησία Αγίου Γεωργίου) (about 1864) at Chorio.
  • Agia Paraskevi church (Greek: Εκκλησία Αγίας Παρασκευής) (and the old stone mill) at Damaskatika.

Other buildings[edit]

  • School of Othonoi (Greek: Σχολείο Οθωνών) (1912) at Ammos.
  • Ruins of the Venetian fortress at the northeast end of Kastri cape hilltop at an altitude of 100 m.
  • Lighthouse of Othonoi (Greek: Φάρος Οθωνών) (built in 1872).

Monuments[edit]

  • Cross monument at Stavros, for the massacre of the inhabitants of Othonoi by the Ottoman fleet under Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1537.
  • Monument to seafarers of Othonoi island, at Ammos.
  • Monument to submarine PROTEUS, at Ammos.

Nature[edit]

  • Aspri ammos beach (Greek: Παραλία Άσπρη άμμος) which is accessible only by boat to the west of the island.
  • Cave of Calypso (Greek: Σπήλαιο Καλυψώς), near of Aspri ammos beach.
  • Mount Imerovigli (Greek: Όρος Ημεροβίγκλι) and the highest peak of the island with height of 395 metres (1,296 ft)
  • Kamara (Greek: Καμάρα) near Ammos.
  • Iliovasilema (sunset) at Chorio.[4]:37–48</ref>[6]

Beaches[edit]

Most beaches on the island are accessible by boat, including Ammos, Molos, Kamini, Kanoula, Kontoskes, Rogi, Fyki, Xilosermi, and Aspri Ammos. It is a well known island for 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). Othonoi was frequently visited by the French naturalist Jacques Cousteau and his exploratory vessel Calypso.[4]:27–28

Trails[edit]

The traditional trail was created and used by the first inhabitants, and was subsequently reopened by the municipality and private initiatives. Locals and visitors can use the trail to reach almost every neighborhood and part of the island on foot, as well as Mount Imerovigli (Merovigli), and the highest peak of the island, with a height of over 390 metres (1,280 ft), with views of the other Diapontia Islands, Ionian sea and Adriatic sea.[7]

Others[edit]

  • Port of Ammos (Greek: Λιμένας Άμμου) is the most populous district with small guesthouses, restaurants, rent-a-bike store, cafes, police station, community clinic with ambulance and port authority.

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 was densely planted during Venetian rule, so most are aged 300–400 years exceeding a height of 7 metres (23 ft). There are cypresses and fruit trees on almost all mountain slopes. 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. Most houses have, instead of tents or sheds, pergolas with vines or pergoulies. Oregano, sage and many other herbs.[4]:52

Fauna[edit]

Othonoi is the first migratory bird station in southeastern Europe from Libya, especially for turtle doves. There are also grouse and snipe (xilokotes) during the winter months, and Petritis falcons, the European bee-eater birds, martins, ravens and several species of eagles. There are several hares and rabbits. The most common species of reptile is the viper (Vipera ammodytes or astritis). Marine mammals have been observed off the island's coast, including the bottlenose dolphin, at least three species of sharks (including white shark), while sporadically near the cave of Calypso there have been monk seals. Also found are 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 abundant at night, and when the sea is calm, the plankton illuminates the sea bed.[4]:52

Climate[edit]

The climate of Othonoi is mild, and generally warm and temperate. The winters are rainier than the summers. The Köppen-Geiger climate classification is Csa. The average temperature in Othonoi is 16.7 °C. About 1026 mm of precipitation falls annually.

Climate data for Othonoi island
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13,1 13,7 15,2 18,3 22,4 26,9 29,7 29,8 26,4 22,2 17,9 14,8
Average low °C (°F) 6,2 6,8 7,9 10,3 13,8 17,4 19,6 19,8 17,5 14,2 10,8 7,9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 140
(5.51)
114
(4.49)
92
(3.62)
59
(2.32)
40
(1.57)
18
(0.71)
12
(0.47)
22
(0.87)
66
(2.6)
127
(5)
173
(6.81)
163
(6.42)
1,026
(40.39)
Source: climate-data.org[8]

Dialect[edit]

A dialect is spoken resembling that of Corfu and having a similar prosody. It is heavily influenced by Italian.

Traditional Diapontian costumes

Transport[edit]

The island is accessible by boat with regular services from Corfu port and Agios Stefanos Avliotes. There is a port in Avlakia district (with fishing port), for several small private yachts and boats.The island has a heliport for emergencies. Asphalt roads are available on many parts of the island, about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) of which are extended to settlements. There is complete electrification and a telephone network with Internet access.

Othonoi in literature[edit]

  • Ionion akron. Greece in the narrow of Otranto (Greek: Ιόνιον άκρων. Η Ελλάδα στοστενό του Ότραντο) (ISBN 960-7062-99-X)
  • Folklore mission to Diapontia islands, by Dimitrios Loukatos, 2012 (Greek: Λαογραφική αποστολή στα Διαπόντια νησιά) (ISBN 960-404-246-7)
  • Ereikoussa, the extra garden and the continental shelf of Diapontia islands by greek journalist, Georgios Lekakis, 2014 (Greek: Ερείκουσσα, ο επιπλέον ανθόκηπος και η υφαλοκρηπίδα των Διαποντίων νήσων) (ISBN 978-960-454-102-7)
  • The Fiddler's daughter (Greek: Στο καλύβι του Αριά) by Dimitra Kapelouzou, 2004 (ISBN 960-7720-53-9)

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]