The ancient sources call Leucas a Corinthian colony, perhaps with a Corcyraen participation. Lefkada is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea on the west coast of Greece, connected to the mainland by a long causeway and floating bridge. Some scholars suggest that Lefkada was Homer's Ithaca, and the palace of Odysseus was located west of Nydri on the south coast of the island.
The area of Apollonia's municipality had been inhabited at the very early days, as this is proved by some limited findings of Paleolithic and Neolithic period (3.500 BC) which were discovered from the excavations of the archaeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld. In the valley of Vassiliki, the Archaelogical Service has discovered ancient archaeological ruins (ruins of towers), which probably belong to an ancient town and to the places of Marmara, Pyrgi, Klismatia, Marantochori. To the Cape of Doukato or Lefkata construction ruins and architectural parts Apollo Lefkata’s temple are located. This sanctuary was widely famous in the ancient world.
Every year, Hellenic festivals have been taking place to the honour of Apollo, who was the protector of the marines and the doctor of body and soul. For this reason, ancients believed that, if you jump off the rocks, your soul would get free from the weight of passions and sins. In this place, the female poet Sappho allegedly leapt to her death from the 30 meters high cliffs. There is also an ancient wall and ruins of the ancient city “Nirikos”. Two km outside and east of the town, passing through the olive grove, one can reach Kalligoni. The area has been declared an archeological site and it embodies the ruins of the surrounding settlement of Ancient Lefkada, which are dated from Archaic to Roman times, two cemeteries of the ancient town, monuments, construction ruins, like graves, farmhouses and harbor facilities composing an integral part of the protected monumental place of the ancient town abandoned around 1300.
The caste of Aghia Mavra is located at the entrance of the island. It is one of the most imposing medieval buildings of Greece, representing the fortification art of this period. It was built around 1300 from a Frank leader, Ioannis Orsini, when he took Lefkada as a wedding gift for his wedding with the daughter of Epirus Bishop Nikiforos A. The castle was protecting the capital of the island, as it was the most important defensive armoring against Pirates and other enemies, from the first decade of 14th century since 1684. In 1487, it was overtaken by Turks, who built a large arch shaped bridge with 360 rooms, which crossed the lagoon from the coast to Kalkani, with pipes of a water tower. This project was destroyed by the earthquakes. Some ruins are still preserved in the lagoon.
The Lefkada Archaeological Museum is housed in the cultural center of the Borough of Lefkada (A. Sikelianou & N. Svoronou street). The findings exhibited cover a period of time, beginning in the middle of the Paleolithic times (200.000 - 35.000 π.Χ.) until the later Roman times. In a separate room at the museum, the findings of German archaeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld are exhibited. He is the one who developed the theory that Lefkada is Homer’s Ithaca. The museum exhibits tools, ceramic and copper jewellery and gems of ancient tombs, mostly from the Ancient city of Nirikos, Nydri, Hoirospilia, Evgiros and the cave in Fryni.
The “Pantazis Kontomixis” Folkloric Museum of the “Orpheus” Cultural Group is housed in the old town of Lefkada. It was founded in 1937 and includes many significant and rare exhibits, a rich collection of objects from the everyday life and business of the Lefkadite people. The Folkloric Museum of Lefkadite Canvas Works” Maria koutsohero”, in Karya village is in a small private museum in Karya Village. Among the traditional exhibit the visitor may discover the life and character, the persistence, patience and genius of the Lefkadite people, living in the highlands under rough conditions and managing to create a folkloric culture.
There is also the museum of Angelos Sikelianos. In the two-storied house where Angelos Sikelianos was born and lived in Lefkada, it became possible to develop the vision and the act of the poet in a jewellery museum for an intellectual of worldview, a national pioneer, a real thinker, a politically present litterateur and a great lyric poet.
The island of Lefkas or Lefkada or Lefkadia, at the time of Homer was known as the Niricos, as its capital was called. According to a prevailing view, the island owes its name to the steep white cliffs on its southernmost cape. Here is where legend states the poetess Sappho took her own life because her thwarted love for Phaon. The first traces of life on the island date to 8000 years before the birth of Christ, the Palaeolithic era.
The German archaeologist Wilhelm Doerpfeld, an assistant to Heinrich Schliemann who discovered Troy and Mycenae, was the one who supported the theory that Lefkada is Homer’s Ithaca. In his excavations, in Nydri, he brought to light important findings from the Copper Age (about 2000 B.C.). The ancient Nikeos of the 7th century B.C., in which Kalligion at the “Koulmos” site was discovered, was the first capital of the island and was surrounded by a large wall. A small section of it, survives today. Moreover, the island was connected with Corinth and followed by participating in all great events of the ancient era.
The Ionian Islands came to the Venetians in 1293. Afterwards, in 1300, the Castle of Aghia Mavra was built, where the capital was transferred. There follows a period that Venetians and Turks succeed each other, until 1503, when Lefkada was given with a treaty to the Turks. In 1684, was again occupied by Venetian Francis Morosini. The capital transferred out of the castle to its present location, called Amaksiki. People lost control of the harbor and trade from the Venetians. Separated from the rest of Greece and the Venetians and indifferent to develop a social and cultural background as Zakynthos and Corfu did, Lefkada struggled to create its own spiritual movement. Nevertheless, the Venetians organized public life, established courts and placed the foundations for the Administrative Services. In addition, there was an upcoming period of constant changes:
• Venetian Rule: 1684 – 1797
• Democratic French: 1797 – 1798
• Russian Turks: 1798 – 1800
• Eptanisa State: 1800 – 1807
• Imperial French: 1807 – 1810
• English protection: 1810 – 1864
• Union with Greece on May 21, 1864. Lefkada and other Ionian islands become part of the Greek State.