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History

Elafonisos is found in southeastern tip of Peloponnese with area of 19 square kilometres and distance only 570 metres from the shores of Peloponesse' coast of Punta and with another 3 square kilometres of ground in Lakonia, which constitutes the Community of Elafonissos.

The current name the Elafonissos (Island of the Deers), according to research of Stamoulis Iakovos and Kroupis Ilias, is due to the rich hunting that existed in the region from the antiquity as it is reported by the Pausanias there was a statuary of Artemis (Goddess of hunting) in the region. Also, the the existence of a population of deers of red colour. This agrees with Venetian and Portolan maps of 15th century where Elafonissos is impressed as CERVI and the Kythera as CERIGO (a name that the locals use up to today for Kythera (Tsirigo). This wasn't the case with Elafonisso as it wasn't inhabited at the time. In addition, the village acrosss the channel Viglafia of draws it's name from Vigla(observatory) and Elafia (Deers). From Viglafia is a natural observatory for the surrounding fields, the lagoon Stroggyli, and Elafonissos island. The isolatated population of deers in Elafonissos could well be observed from there.

Elafonisos belongs in the Prefecture of Lakonia, and 3,7 naval miles eastern is the city of Neapolis, centre of the Municipality Voion formed with the surrounding villages in south-eastern tip of Peloponnese, Cape Malea, is also part of the Vatika region. 4.5 nautical miles southern of cape Frango is the Island of Kythera.

The population of island is about a few hundreds residents the winter which the summertime is more than doubled. Also the island is pole of attraction of thousands of tourists peaking the summer months of July and August, when the overnigh visitors may exceed 5.000 and crossing of cars daily can exceed the 1.600 cars/day mark.

In the antiquity the current area where elafonissos lies did not constitute island but a peninsula with the name "Onou Gnathos" (Donkey Jawbone) as the then form referred in the aspect according to the Pausanias(2nd centure AD) who in his tour describes the city of Voia in the sunken region of island Petri (Paylopetri) where is even distinguished today ruins of homes and cart roads as in the Tip of Kalogeras, near in the island Kasela in complex of Virgin Mary Islands. The region between the island and Peloponnese that sunk in the aftermath of an earthquake and other smaller pieces of ground around the island that today us rewards with splendid gold-greenblue colours in their waters.

During the 16th and 17th century A.D. the island used as a base for operations of Pirates and Corsairs, since the "Elafonissos Channel" it even constitutes today the main passage of vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean with hundreds of ships pass each day and night.

The island was re-populated by its current residents in 1850, afterwards his final annexation to Greece after A Greek-British minor conflict but also the final end to the piracy in the Aegean by the Hellenic Navy. The initial inhabitants came from the surrounding villages of Vatika area. The Hellenic Kingdom exploited the omition of Elafonissos and another Island called Sapienza from the treaty of sovereignty of the "Ionian Republic" in which both islands where part of.

All the island in the coastal region had observatories (called Vigles), where the Observers could watch ships approach the shores, and could warn the local population night or day. The observers shift (called Vardia in Greek) gives name of the mountain in the middle Elafonissos (276m height). It was used as an Observator by the current residents during the B World War to protect the civilians from air raids and the firepower of German highspeed ships that started from the German Naval station at Gythion aiming at scaring the residents of Elafonissos. Residents use the hidden caves at the Mauroudi region to hide and protect the aggressors.

The residents of Elafonissos posses allocating one of the bigger fishing fleets in Greece with boats suitable for coastal mainly fishing. Most of them are wooden "Trehandiri" but also "Paragadia" and other type. The are famous for exceptional woodwork shipbuilding as genuine descendants trireme from the Spetses, Hydra, Koilada but also Samos and elsewhere.

It is also rumoured that Elafonissos in Southwestern Crete owes the name when at their passage with the Caiques fishermen of Elafonisos they called the place Lafonisi as even today, the resemblance of colours of sea with splendid goldgreenblue waters of Simos, Saracenico Pounta and Virgin Mary Islands.

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