We headed south to Fiskardo, one of our favourite places on the island of Cephalonia, apparently the only village on the island that wasn’t destroyed in the 1953 earthquake. A really pretty old fishing harbour with colourful Venetian buildings, now a very busy tourist location. The bay is full of boats and visited daily by numerous ferries and day trip boats bringing people from the neighbouring islands. In the evening the super yachts arrive mooring on the ferry docks for the night.
The harbour is full of restaurants, bars and shops, boats moor up close together on to the quay only a few feet away from the restaurant tables. We decided to anchor on the opposite side of the bay with long lines ashore, this is much quieter, you can swim from the boat in the clear water and it is convenient to go ashore by dinghy to visit our favourite cocktail bar, which has a balcony overlooking the bay. Also the best Thai restaurant in the area, we definitely recommend a visit to Lord Falcon if ever you are in Fiskardo.
Cocktails with a view
The best Thai curries
After watching the entertaining comings and goings of boats all over the place, we decided to go and explore inland. There is the deserted village of Psilithrias up in the hills so we checked the map and went to have a look.
We set off on the forest path up the hill, this was originally the only path that connected Fiskardo with the rest of the island. It was not long before we reached the ancient throne of the Queen of Fiscardo. There was a very small stone path leading to the Bronze Age ‘throne’. Local legend suggests, that it was here that the Queen of Fiscardo held court.
Doesn’t look very comfortable!
We continued up the rough track to the brow of the hill where you can see the deserted village in the distance beyond the overgrown fields and trees
We eventually reached Psilithrias, once the biggest and most important village in the area, today a picturesque ruin – roofs fallen in, gardens overgrown and streets filled with rubble.
It doesn’t look like it was a poor village as many of the houses look quite large with grand arch ways, wrought iron gates and big balconies
There was nobody around (but then it is a deserted village) and it felt quite eerie. The village cannot be seen from the sea, apparently many villages were built in similar locations in order not to be seen by pirates. Access was entirely on foot, and goods were transported by mule or donkey.
We looked into one of the houses which looked like it had survived better than some of the others, there was still belongings from the previous occupiers inside, they had certainly left in a hurry!
There are a couple of different stories of what drove the people away from Psilithrias many years ago. One being due to the Great Earthquake of 1953 which seems to be the most likely.
However there is another theory that dates back 150 years when the authorities decided to build a proper road between Fiscardo and Argostolion, the island capital 52 kilometres away.
When Psilithrias residents discovered that the road was to go right past their village, they were not happy. The road would bring strangers, their women would not be safe and they wanted no part of it. They complained so ferociously that the government eventually gave in to their request, at which news the villagers apparently killed a goat in celebration!
The road was redirected through the tiny village of Antipata. As predicted the road did indeed bring strangers and they needed food, drink and a place to stay. Antipata met those needs and grew, while Psilthiras, cut off from the road, wasted away to become just another Greek ruin.
As we were walking out of the village we noticed that a couple of the houses had been renovated so maybe the village will eventually be restored to its former glory.
On the outskirts of the village was the Church of Saint Spiridon, with some really old gravestones in the grounds, this appears to be one part of the old village still in use.
We then continued up the track to the village of Antipata. With it’s typically Greek taverna, school building, an abandoned church and large village square.
Once an impressive building, the Church has been left to ruin, the walls were crumbling, glass broken and the ‘onion dome’ on top looks a bit precarious!
We were happy to find a shop selling ice cream where we could sit, cool down and relax for a while before making our return journey.
We took the path from Antipata back down to Fiskardo.
Once down in the village we couldn’t resist a quick stop at the beach
This was an interesting walk which was like going back in time, but then it was nice to return to civilisation and the present day hustle and bustle of a busy harbour.