The Lady of the North, as it was called later, was the capital of Kefalonia for a small period of time, before the castle of Saint George and, naturally, before today’s capital, Argostoli.
On its highest point is a Venetian castle. The history of its construction begins long before its actual building started, around 1479, when harsh battles were fought between the Turks and the Venetians over the control of the island. In 1500, the Venetians took the castle of Saint George, paving the way for the liberation of the island from the Turks. After this defeat, the raids and sieges on the island were endless. This situation lead Vicentio Canali, captain and the Intendant of Corfu, upon the request of a representative group of Kefalonians, to build an impregnable castle in 1585, so that the inhabitants could seek refuge there, in case of war. This area was suitable for the Venetians to build a fortress in the town with permanent population due to its geophysical particularity and its strategic location, so as to control the waters of the Ionian.
The realization of this project was completed quickly, without any particular obstacles, other than that of the irrigation problem. In order to deal with this problem, a well was built near the sea, four public water reservoirs and any islanders who bought land within the fortress were obliged to build a reservoir for each private house they would construct.
About a century later, in 1684, the area would lose its strategic importance as Lefkada fell under Venetian occupation. Administration will remain in the hands of the Intendant until the fall of Venetian Rule in 1797, while during the democratic period of 1797-1799, the castle was the base of a kind of city hall. It also functioned as a rural prison until 1953.
Today the castle reminds nothing of its glorious past, since the years that have gone by and the catastrophic earthquake of 1953 have left their marks. The village was completely destroyed by the earthquake. Rebuilding endeavors were made by the French Prime Minister Bideau and the residents named their square “ Square of the Parisians” in his honor. Ruins of the walls, the barracks, the Church of Saint Mark and the Venetian Intendant’s home are saved. Its entrance also makes an impression as it’s domed.
Many efforts have been made by the Ministry of Culture the past few years for the preservation and reconstruction of the castle. Today, some work to pave the road from the bay to its gate has been undertaken, so as to be ready to receive its countless visitors, who will admire this wild, unparalleled beauty that unites mountain and sea, along with a breathe of majestic history.