There are few places with an older and more rarefied place in Western culture than Ithaka. For more than three millennia, it has stood as a luxury getaway, romantic hotspot, and the site of one of the oldest literary heirlooms in Western civilisation. Sitting just by the Ionian Sea, it’s a gorgeous example of Grecian beauty which welcomes untold tourists each year. One of Greece’s biggest money makers is its tourism industry and its classical islands and cities are a great part of that, from Athens to Alexandria and, yes, Ithaka.
Of course, the most famous example of Ithaka making its mark on the world stage is the pivotal role it plays in one of the central Western texts, Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus is the king of Ithaka and his triumphant, if troubled, return to his wife Penelope and the throne of Ithaka after twenty years of war and wandering is one of the great stories of all time and, like the area itself, continues to inspire the West and, indeed, the world, from poets such as Byron to brides to be.
Here are just a few reasons to make Ithaka your next vacation destination.
What to See in Ithaka
Ithaka (also spelled Ithaca) is, as stated, most famous for being the legendary home of Odysseus from Homer’s epic poem, and there are several sites around the island dedicated to that legacy. Much of the appeal of Ithaka is and has been that it is a city-sized window into the world of the Ancient Greeks, with ruins from Greece’s Golden Age littering the landscape.
There’s more than just reminders of ancient Greece here, however. Ithaka is home to some of the most remarkable buildings from the Byzantine Empire. Lasting for a thousand years, which correspond to the transition from the world of antiquity through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance and rediscovery of that Greco-Roman grandeur, the Byzantine empire represented a unique and brilliant blend of East and West, Greco-Roman and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It became a multicultural melting pot that birthed countless great works of art, examples of which can be seen right here in Ithaka. Add to that the different small-scale harbours which dot the coastline and the nearby village of Kioni, and you have a travel plan that’ll take you to some of the most stunning sights Greece has to offer, making Ithaka holidays ones to remember.
A Romantic Odyssey
Of course, one of the great persistent draws to Ithaka in particular is, again, the Odysseus legend which involved a man trying for years to return home to a wife who for that time remained faithful and true. It’s one of the first love stories in the Western canon and one of the most idealised, and so it should come as no surprise that those ideas of Ancient Greek grandeur and faithfulness have resulted in Ithaka being a go-to spot for weddings. There are several spots across the island that welcome newlyweds and the affianced alike, making for a wedding experience you won’t soon forget.
And its unforgettable quality really has always been one of the best things about Ithaka throughout the odyssey of Western civilisation.