Ithaca Region - Cultural Sites

Aetos
Excavated in the 1930s by the British School of Athens, Aetos, Southern Ithaca, revealed itself to be a significant sanctuary site with cult use in the 9th Century B.C. and with perhaps even a temple around 780 B.C. There was a huge influx of Corinthian votive offerings during the latter period and Finds from all over the compass were excavated. These included amber beads from Italy or the Adriatic, amulets in the form of small bronze vessels, similar to those from Macedonia, stone scaraboid seals from Cilicia and a small granulated gold finial in the form of a snake's head from Crete.

Alacomenae
Ancient town located on a hill above the small town of Piso Aetos. Today the 6th century B.C. ruins of the acropolis of Alalcomai remain.

Spring of Aretousa
Located 5 kilometres (3 miles) south of Valhy at the far southeast corner of Ithaca is the Spring of Aretousa. This is the fabled spring where Odysseus' swineherder, Eumaeus, brought his pigs to drink.

Homers School
On the mountain below Exoghi and above Platrithias in the north of Ithaca lay the ruins believed to be that of Homers School. The site has been excavated in recent years by the University of Ioannina, Greece. There is access from a track leading up from Geyfiri Restaurant in Platrithias or by a dirt road which starts at the first bend of the road to Exoghi.

Monastery of Katharon
This monastery was built at the end of the 17th century and was dedicated to the Panaghia Katharotissa. It is located on Mt. Neritos at a height of 600 meters (1,967 feet). From the monastery there are views of Vathy and east towards the Gulf of Patras. There are two alternatives to get there, by road through Stavros and through Anoghi or via the main road.

Monastery of Taxiarchi
The Monastery of the Archangels is located southwest of Vathy. It was built in the 17th century.

Cave of the Nymphs
Also known as Marmarospilia, the Cave of the Nymphs is where Odysseus hid the gifts of the Phaeacians after his return from Troy. The cave is west of Vathy near the main road and is posted well.

Polis Cave
Located on the north side of the Polis Bay, this cave is thought to have been the centre for worships through early Greek civilization. Many clay vessels have been found, mostly Mycenaean. Although well signposted in Polis Bay on the North of the island, the ancient cave sanctuary is no longer visible since its final collapse in the 1953 earthquake. The British School at Athens excavated the site in the 1930s, all the finds from which are in the Stavros Museum. The excavations revealed that the site had accumulated some late Mycenaean and Early Protogeometric finds, however, from the 8th Century B.C. onwards, the cult continued without break into Roman Rule. The most significant finds were the fine Geometric bronze tripods dedicated there and a fragment of a locally made female theatrical mask dating from the 2 nd to the 3 rd Century B.C. Approximately one hundred were excavated, however, one fragment was inscribed with ‘Efhin Odyccei' and, in another direction, ‘O deina aneth I ken' meaning ‘Votive offering to Odysseus, so and so dedicated it.' The Polis Cave sanctuary was of significant importance judging by the finds excavated and it is reasonable to connect this importance with the Odyssey.

Early Helladic Settlement
A kilometer from Stavros at Pilikata, one can see the ruins of an ancient settlement. The area's archaeological findings are exhibited in a small collection. Pilikata has today, and most likely in the past, a supply of first-rate drinking water at only a few metres below the surface, which would make it a prime place to have a settlement. It was excavated by the British School in the 1930s, when the archaeologist Vollgraff found prehistoric shards on the site and the visible remains of an ancient circuit wall. Most of the wall had collapsed and the blocks had been reused in buildings and in the walls that terraced the hillside. However, towards the North end, around 15 blocks were, if not far off, in situ. Around 2200 B.C. simple houses were built within the circuit walls with rubble walls that were thatched with mud and reeds, but at some point in occupation, a more substantial building of ashlar masonry was erected at the highest point. A burial was also uncovered within a pottery vessel known as a ‘pithos'. Obsidian (stone) blades and flakes show their connection with their neighbours to the East. Mycenaean pottery and Minyan pottery was also discovered, possibly by the same people that introduced new burial customs on Lefkada. After the beginning of the 12 th Century B.C., the settlement came to an end. The site is one of several that have been suggested to be the place of the Palace of Odysseus. As written by Homer, 3 harbours were visible from the summit. From this point we can see Polis Bay to the West, Aphales bay to the North and Frikes Bay to the East. The Stavros Museum is also on the Pilikata Hill, and is where all the finds from these excavations are stored.

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