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Photo Album      Diapontian Islands

Paxos Island

Paxos is located eight nautical miles south of Corfu (27 from Corfu Town) and occupies an area of 20 square kilometres. The island is one huge olive grove, with the olive trees growing right down to the seashore, giving the island its unique character. Today, the island's population is divided amongst some 34 settlements and stands at 2,400 inhabitants - mostly engaged in olive production, tourism and fishing. The island's 64 churches are witness to the depth of religious feeling and the eye-catching windmills to the agricultural life. The island of Antipaxos is located 2 nautical miles south of Paxos . It covers only three square kilometres, and its 2 settlements, Ano and Kato Chorio have 20 permanent residents, with occasional visits from outsiders who own land on the island. Mostly people are occupied with their vineyards. The natural beauty of Paxos and especially of its coastline draws a great deal of tourist traffic to the island. Today it boasts some 2000 rented rooms, 2 diving schools, and during the summer many events take place, such as a Jazz Festival in July and a Festival of Classical Music in the first two weeks of September.


According to tradition, Paxos was once joined to Corfu. Frequent tempests, provoked by Poseidon and Aiolos, gods of the sea and the winds, caused the land to sunder, and from then on Paxos continued to move further away to the south.

Another more romantic version tells us that Poseidon caused the separation of the two islands when he cast his trident into the sea in order to create a peaceful haven where he could enjoy his love affair with Amphitrite. Thus the emblem of Paxos is a trident.

In ancient chronicles, Paxos is mentioned by Herodotus, Polyvio and Plutarch. In 229 BC, just off Paxos, a naval battle between Corfu and Illyria took place, which led directly to the Roman occupation. In 960 AD Bishop Leouprandos visited the island and there wrote his third book of history.

Until 1380, (the Age of the Angevins), the fate of Paxos was closely linked with that of Corfu. But in that year it was granted to Baron Adam Sainte-Hippolyte, and then six years later the Venetians occupied Corfu . The Baron held on to ownership of Paxos as a fiefdom. In 1423, the fortress on the islet of Saint Nicholas at Gaios was built to protect the area from attacks by Turks and pirates. After the death of Sainte-Hippolyte, his sister and heir, Lucentia, married the Sicilian, Ricardo Altavilla, with the island as her dowry. For the 30 years after 1484, Paxos came under the jurisdiction of the Venetian Republic and fell into the hands of the noble Avrami family. The heavy taxes imposed by the landowners and constant pillage by pirates who carried off the populace into slavery, brought the Paxiots to the edge of deprivation. The Venetian period is also characterised by the monoculture of olives, and by the development of commerce through the evolution of a merchant marine fleet.

The story continues with the French Republicans, the Russo-Turkish Alliance, the Septinsular State, and the French again - Imperialists this time. In 1810, the British navy first appeared in the Ionian, seizing Lefkada and threatening the other French-occupied islands. Unrest came to Paxos. Starving from lack of grain, heavily oppressed by the dictatorial authorities, the Paxiots, led by the pirate captain, Kefalas, revolted. They raised the British flag, and slaughtered the French aristocrats, plundering and burning their houses. The French sent a force to suppress the revolt, and the rebels were court-martialled. In 1811, seven of them were executed in Corfu, and their estates confiscated.

Three years later, the British, with the help of Theodoros Kolokotronis, invaded the island and occupied it. During the period they held it, the British constructed waterworks, roads and harbours, and set up schools.

Lakka: one of the four main villages of Paxos, with a population of 400, lies at the northernmost tip of the island.It is hidden in a striking, deeply indented bay, which protects it from the prevailing southerly winds. Even though, during the summer, its harbour is full of yachts, it does not lose its pristine quality and the waters are always clear and clean. There are several well-appointed cafes and tavernas. West of Lakka there are three fine beaches in succession, the best-known being Harami, and here you may enjoy fine swimming.

Loggos: is a picturesque village, in a lush green setting of olive trees and pines, with several fish tavernas and bars. It is located five kilometres from Gaios, and has 200 inhabitants. The wall frescoes in the Church of the Source of Life (Zoodohos Pigi), whose existence was mentioned as early as 1739, are particularly interesting.

Gaios:is the capital, the centre of commerce and culture, and the main port of the island. The islet of Saint Nicholas, a natural breakwater, has a Byzantine fortress and two tiny churches.During the summer, Gaios becomes very cosmopolitan, and people dress carefully for their evenings out. The Cultural Centre of Paxos is based in Gaios, with a theatrical group and an orchestra. Between Gaios and Lakka lie around 15 beaches for fine swimming, among them Arkoudaki, Orkos, Monodendri, Glyfada and Levrecchio.

The islet of the Virgin Mary: is located in Gaios Bay and has a church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, which is built on an early Christian cruciform church, of which one part remains as the sanctuary.

Mongonisi: is a beautiful bay in the south east of the island.

Ozias: is the oldest settlement on the island, with a population of 250. The churches of Agia Marina and Agios Stefanos date from the 6th century and have great historical value, even though today they lie in ruins.

Kaltsionisi: a tiny, emerald island on which there is a small church dedicated to Saint Spiridon, dating at least from 1686.

The sea caves: the west coast of Paxos is precipitous, with sheer cliffs and sea caves. The fame of the island owes much to this majestic natural beauty. Locals say that the great cave which lies below the village of Vassilatika communicates with the Church of Ypapanti. More certain, however, is the fact that during the Second World War the Greek submarine Papanikolis sheltered inside the cave, an indication of its huge size.

From the lighthouse at Lakka a footpath winds down to Planos, a lovely beach which you can reach without a boat. But you will need a boat to reach Achai, a fantastic beach with eroded stones and rocks providing a fine setting for fun in the bright blue sea.

Antipaxos: despite its sparse population (20 people only), has two or three tavernas and about 50 houses, which are mostly occupied only during the summer or at weekends. There is an adequate road. You can get there by means of a boat excursion from Gaios, or you can hire a boat and explore the island. The superb eastern beaches, with their golden sand and many-hued water, are famous throughout the Ionian. The southern part of the island, rocky and atmospheric, forms delightful small beaches such as Rodovani, with caves, Helidonograva for example, and rocky islets such as Daskalia. Inland, the church of Agios Emilianos is worth a visit, and was restored in 1864. The island is planted all over with vines of such varieties as 'troukaniaris', 'korakas', 'korinthi', 'petrokorinthos' and fidia', from which the locals make a strong wine of the best quality - one which you will not easily find in the shops (its price is around 7.50 euros a kilo) but if you do find it, make sure to enjoy some!

Paxos ship wreck: N 39.10.753' and E 20.16.548'

South entrance of Gaios port


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