The god Poseidon was in love with Amfitriti, who was hiding in a cave to avoid being married to him. Delphinos, a friend of the god's, discovered the hideout and informed him thereof. Poseidon, without wasting any time, stole the beauty in hiding and took her on his chariot to Corfu. There, with a strike of his trident, he cut off the southern part of the island, thus forming Paxoi, where he lived with his beloved Amfitriti. However, he lost his trident, which was later recovered by the inhabitants of Paxoi, who made it their emblem.

The Archbishop of Paramythia, Athenagoras, identifies Paxoi with the ancient Troy. Their caves where the berth of gods and heroes, the treasury of the Homeric and pre-Homeric world, home of the most ancient of civilisations, the Greek Civilisation. There stood the palace of Speio, daughter of Nereus.

It's no coincidence that the Homeric name Leukothea is very common in Paxoi since the antiquity. Christina Adam Romanou states that if the entrance to Hades was at the necromancy, then the house of Circe was most probably on Paxoi, where one can easily travel to by sail after a single-day trip. Another theory is that of the Homerist Babis Katsimbas, who -after years of research- has come to the conclusion that Paxoi is the island of Kalypso.


Homer is the first to mention Paxoi. The inhabitants originated from Epirus and spoke Greek. It appears that the first settlers where the Phoenicians, who had already colonised Kefallonia. Thucydides, in his book 46-50, describes the sea battle that took place in the spring of 432 BC between the Corfiots and the Corinthians. The former had an alliance with the Athenians, whereas the latter with the inhabitants of Ilia, Megara, Lefkas and Amvrakia. The sea battle was held near Paxoi (at the time named Syvota islands) and was the largest ever to have taken place between Greeks. Out of the 270 triremes that took part, 70 Corfiot and 30 Corinthian ones sank.

Polyvius describes a naval battle between Illyrian pirates -who had an alliance with the people of Akarnania- and Corfiots, Aetolians and Achaians in 229 BC. Their mighty fleets clashed off the shore of the "so-called Paxoi". The former won the battle, took over Corfu and stationed a garrison with Dimitrios the Pharian as commander. The queen of the Illyrians was Teuta. This pirate victory was the actual cause for the first imposition of Roman politics in Greece (Polyvius II, 10 & 11).

In the 2nd book, chapter 5 of Strabo's Geographics (67-23 BC) it is mentioned that there are the Syvota islets, a few miles off Epirus, near Lefkimmi at the south side of Corfu. Dion of Cassus mentions "Paxoi" as a masculine name.

In 31 BC, the fleets of Octavianus and Antonius, with Cleopatra as their ally, moved through the area of Paxoi to find their way to the sea-battle of Aktion. It is said that after the outcome of the said battle, Antonius and Cleopatra fled and due to the opposing winds they had to seek refuge in Paxoi. Plutarch refers to Paxoi in relation to the news of Pan's death. Epitherses, father of the rhetorician Aimilianus, was on his way -by boat- to Italy. When they were passing by Paxoi, they heard a voice in the middle of the night calling the captain's name "Tamos". It was a name that even most of the passengers ignored. The voice shouted three times and when Tamos finally answered, the voice said even louder: "When you reach Vouthroto, tell everyone that the Great Pan is dead". Then they heard a loud mourning coming from the surrounding nature that was grieving for the death of Pan. This legend symbolised the end of idolatry.

Plinius refers to the islands as "Paxai" -in feminine. Antonius Augustus in his Seafaring book refers to Paxoi and Antipaxoi as "Paxos" and "Propaxos". Esyhius mentions a phrase that was translated as "Paxoi islands are towards Italy". Prokopius of Caesaria (470-527 AD) in the 2nd volume of his stories, mentions the route that was followed by the Gothic fleet against Greece. He makes clear that all the islands around Corfu are named Syvota, including the Paxoi complex that was to be pillaged by the Goths. The bishop of Cremona, Liutprand, who was sent in person to Constantinople in 948 by Verengarius to the Emperor Constantine and in 968 by the Emperor Otto I to Nikephoros Phokas, stopped at Paxoi. Here he wrote his third book, prior to 959. As a matter of fact, he states that he started his book while on Paxoi, about 900 miles away from Constantinople (LIUTPRAND ANTAPODOSIS).

In the chronicles of Henry II and Richard I (1169-1192) one can read that at a distance of forty miles from Corfu, there is a large mountain at the end of Romania, called Paxos, whence starts the gulf of Venice. During the second half of the 13th century, Paxoi were under the rule of the Anjou, just like Corfu. Following the death of Joanne I (1380), Queen of Naples and owner of Corfu, Jacob de Beaux took over the island, as an inheritance from his uncle Philip II, lord of Corfu since 1365-1373. The rule of Jacob was to last only from 1380 to 1381. On 26-11- 1381, he surrenders it to the Baron and timariarch (owner of huge tracts of land) Adam San Ippolyto I.

In 1423, his nephew, Adam II, presented himself to the Venetian senate and declared that he owned an island called Pachassu. This island was exposed to raids by the Mauritanians and Pirates, so he asked for their permission to build -at his own expenses- a fortress that could be used by the island's villagers, should the need arise. The Senate, with the resolution of 13 June 1423, granted him this request.

Following the death of Adam II, his sister Lucentia, who was married to Richard Altavilla, one of Corfu's mightiest barons inherited his feudal rights. He was a nephew of Gino Zenevissi, despot of Ioannina. The feud of Paxoi, together with the lake of Korissia, was later taken over by Richard's nephew, Francis Altavilla and later on, in 1484 it became the possession of Fisko. In 1513, Fisko sold it to Ioannis Avramis for 3600 ducats, with the obligation to pay 100 ducats per year to Francis Altavilla and his heirs. Due to the fact that Avramis' taxation was very heavy, many families left Paxoi and sought refuge on Turkish soil.

Another great sea-battle off the shore of Paxoi took place between the allied fleets of the Spanish, the Venetians and the Pope in 1537, under the command of the admiral of Genoa Andrea D'Oria, against the Turks. The Turkish ships were destroyed and the sea was filled with bodies. Barbarossa, in order to take revenge for the destruction caused by D'Oria, started the siege of Corfu on 25-8-1537. He found himself facing a most difficult situation and had to retreat, causing massive destruction and capturing thousands of people. On 9-9-1537, the Turkish fleet came to Paxoi, under the command of Barbarossa. The island was pillaged. Not a stone left unturned.

The destruction was, according to Maruta, unprecedented and was completed the following year when Paxoi became Torgut's base of operations. The island was deserted. Everything was put under fire and sword. In 1571, the Turkish fleet under the admiral Loutsali Pasha pillaged the island anew, slaughtering the remainder of its inhabitants and wreaking havoc. Those who escaped sought refuge on the Diapontian Islands and settled (Bulletin of the Reading Society of Corfu N°11, p. 85).

On 5 July 1759, the Great Priest of Corfu Ioannis Voulgaris visited Paxoi with his escort, to inspect the island's churches. In 1797 the Venetians surrender the Ionian Islands after 411 years of occupation to the Democratic French who stayed there until 28 February 1799, at which time the Russians and the Turks occupied Corfu. The Constitution of 1800 declared the Ionian Islands a Republic under the sovereignty of the Sultan and the protection of Russia. Ioannis Kapodistrias was appointed Secretary of the newly-founded state, which only had a life of about seven years, given that on 8 July 1807, with the treaty of Tlisit, the islands were conceded to the Imperial French of Napoleon until 1814.

The naval blockade of the English resulted in a shortage of food; many people were starving and started to react. So, when they were informed of the occupation of Zakynthos, Kythira, Kefallonia and Ithaca by the English, as well as of the surrender of Lefkas that had as a result the improvement of its inhabitants' nutrition, they also revolted on 17/29 May 1810. The rebels from Lakka, Loggo and Foundana went to Gais, where they met others and took over the power from the French and flied an English flag. Things got out of control and there were murders, looting and arsons against those who supported the French. Among the victims were the island's Governor, Conte Dimakis Makris who burnt inside his house, the former Captain from Lakka, Laskaris Grammatikos, who was murdered, while the teacher Pahomios and Kouvalias were abused. The instigator of this revolt, Captain Kefalas, came the following day and took over command of the island.

However, when they found out that the French fleet was on its way from Corfu with reinforcements, Kefalas left taking with him all the rebels he could together with all the money he found. The French took over once again and punished the rebels severely. After a trial, held in Corfu in 1811, 7 were sentenced to death and shot. Many were imprisoned in the fortress of Corfu and their possessions were confiscated. Their next of kin received compensations. The people of Paxoi sent a delegation to Corfu, apologising and pleading allegiance to Napoleon.

On February 1814, the English army under Church with Major Theodoros Kolokotronis and 100 men landed in the area Planoi of Lakka and took over with encountering any resistance the castle of Ai Nikolas of Gais. In 1817, the English conceded to a Constitution for the Ionian Islands, the first United State of the Ionian Islands under English Protection, with Thomas Maitland as the first English High Commissioner.

In 1819, the people of Parga sought refuge on the island, after being ceded to Ali Pasha by the English, bringing with them many heirlooms, icons and their ancestors' bones. The people of Paxoi, although their Protection forbade this, took part in the Revolution of 1821 and offered their services to the cause. Odysseas Androutsos sought refuge on Paxoi after fleeing Sterea Hellas. Here he married his sister, Kori, to Markos Vellianitis. Perraivos and his wife Diamanti came by this place and Markos Botsaris with Katsantonis stayed briefly. Georgios Louropoulos, a member of the Filiki Etairia, married the slaughter of Athanassios Vellianitis, Anna. His sister, Akrivoula, married Conte Dimakis Makris (who was killed in the revolt of 1810).

On the top of the list of heroes is Georgios Anemoyiannis, fireship captain, who sacrificed his life at the age of 23, in Nafpaktos. When he was trying to set fire to a Turkish ship, the Turks arrested him, spitted him and hang him from the castle of Nafpaktos. Some of the unsung heroes of 1821 are Ioannis Doumas, Georgios Linaras, Georgios Dalietos and Kyriakos Zernos. In 1858, the High Commissioner sir George Young resigned, because unbeknownst to him a confidential document leaked, containing a proposal to detach Corfu and Paxoi from the other islands to form an independent English colony.

The fire of Unification -that burnt for many years- flared up in Paxoi that became the place of exile for the radical MPs of the Ionian Parliament Ilias Zervos- Iakovatos and Gerassimos Livadas. The MPs from Paxoi Ioannis Vellianitis and Dimitrios Makris voted at the Ionian Parliament for the Unification, that actually took place on 21 May 1864. The people of Paxoi paid their share in human lives during the Balkan wars of 1912-13 as well as during the destruction of Asia Minor in 1922. They opened their arms to welcome all those who were driven to their land as refugees and embraced them.

In 1923 the Italians disembark on Corfu and Paxoi for a month in retaliation for the murder of General Tellini off Kakavia, for which Mussolini held Greece responsible & demanded huge compensation. They left on 4-10-23. The blood continues to be shed in 1940-41, during the Greece-Italy war, during the German occupation and stops with the terrible civil war. In the difficult years of the Occupation, the people of Paxoi were able to survive thanks to olive oil. Most of them used to go to the coasts of Epirus in rowboats, where they traded their oil with wheat, barley and corn. These trips were very risky and not always victimless.


One of the most terrible scourges that ever hit Paxoi was Piracy. The first evidence we have, relate to 1538-1540, at which time the pirate Torgut used Paxoi as his base of operations in the area. According to the tradition, he hid the treasure of the Knights of Malta -about 70.000 ducats- in Antipaxoi, where it's still buried until today. The French doctor and botanist, Pierre Belon, who came to Paxoi to study its vegetation in 1546, reports that pirates snatched his sailors. Yiannis Mavilis wrote that, in the spring of 1600, pirates disembarked on Paxoi, stole everything the islanders had, set the place on fire and took 3 girls and about 20 lads with them.

Yiannis Doikas, in the 1st volume of the Paxoi Archives, published a notary's deed describing how a slave named Yiannis Kalodikis from Barbaria was redeemed in 1713 for 100 reals. Many letters of slaves requesting to be redeemed by their families exist in the historic Archive of Paxoi, together with lists of slaves. The story of the beautiful Veaeto of Paxoi, who was kidnapped by the pirate Ali Pitsenino around 1650, became a legend for the generations to come. With the death of the pirate, she took over command of his crew and took on the name Ali Mouselimis, wreaking havoc all over the Mediterranean, without harming any Greek ships.

An order issued by Admiral Iakovos Kapellos in 1671 reports that Mouselimis is not a man but a woman from Greece. Years later, she came back to Paxoi, found her father, lord Arsenis Gerolymos and took him with her. When he dies, she buried him in Ofiousa. She turned her crew over to the pirate Beloul & retired to Efessos, where she built the monastery of Sta. Efrosyni and spent the rest of her life ("Paxoi" newspaper 225-228/1967). The fact that the pirates constantly snatched the island's manpower at their young age, lead to the need of redeeming the slaves. After an order of the Great Priest, the Christians started offering money for this cause. Following a letter by the imperial commissioner of the Ionian Islands, Napoleon showed personal interest in the slaves that were in Tunis and Algiers. He ordered his agents to demand their release and he succeeded.

In 1813 it's the last time we come across slaves from Paxoi. Most typical is a folk song that is still preserved in Paxoi relating to a slave husband and father:

Three people go for water
and another two for wood,
the ones that used to be on Paxoi and lived free,
have now become slaves and dig in other peoples orchards.
Mother, there comes a sail, could my father be inside?
If only, my sweet daughter, your father were inside,
I'd make you a gift of my necklace
and the silk ribbons to put in your hair.

"Paxoi" newspaper iss.310/15-5-54

Paxoi historical archive

It was founded in 1800 at the island's capital. Here is where our island's historical treasures are kept, our written cultural heritage. A pole of attraction for researchers and historians who keep coming up with new evidence and bringing to light unknown details of our history. It is a living cell of civilisation and an inexhaustible source of research. The Community of Gaios of Paxoi, with a unanimous decision, cedes the Gymnasium building to house the Archive, according to the new standards applicable to the other Historical Archives in the country. The Paxoi Historical Archive has gone through too much from time to time, however, for the past 30 years it has had the privilege to be directed by Yiannis Doikas, who has offered his valuable services to research and has published numerous theses and surveys on the island.

museum of Paxoi

Paxoi created their own distinct civilisation, always in close relation with their neighbours, both close and distant ones, underlining their own differences. This evidence was gathered throughout the centuries and has now created the Museum of the Cultural Association of Paxoi. It was first housed in the first floor of the Venetian -and then English- Governor's palace, in the northernmost part of the picturesque port of Gais. It is an 18th century building that was ceded to the National Bank of Greece in 1864 (date of the Unification of the Ionian Islands with Greece), to be later sold to individuals in 1956.

In the yard, one can see parts of old oil presses, oil-measurement containers, stone utensils etc. In the first room, there are fossils, prehistoric tools, classical amphorae and cutlery, Venetian and more recent weapons, coins of different time periods and tools. Further on, visitors may enjoy the way of life, the facilities of a period of time, a large collection of clothes and underwear, the 400-year old bed with the anapafsolia as well as the baby cradle and other women's accessories. The kitchen depicts the grandeur of times passed, with different stoves, clay plates (garitsiotika), scales hanging from the ceiling, old weight measurement units (okades and litres), copper utensils on the walls etc. The Museum was established in 1996 and it is aimed at preserving the island's cultural heritage as well as creating a nucleus for its evolution in the future. Today it is housed in the neoclassical building that used to be the Lyceum on the beach of Gais.

archaeological findings

Paxoi is rich in archaeological findings that have not, however, been evaluated by the Greek archaeological Services. Prehistoric tools of the Pleistocene have been found and many artefacts (clay jugs, amphorae, pitchers etc.) have been retrieved from the sea and delivered to the Archaeological Museum of Corfu.

A ca. 400 BC graveyard has been discovered in the Lagkadia area of Magazia. 3 tombs have been found accidentally and another one after an excavation conducted by the Corfu Ephorate of Classical Antiquities, financed by the Agricultural Cooperation of Gaios, Paxoi and the Cultural Association in 1996. The findings are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Corfu. Moustoxydis, in Kerkyraika, reports that an inscription engraved on purple stone was found on Paxoi that reads:


which can be translated as "Hail twenty year-old Fulkenia Fausta". In 1823 it was in the possession of Professor I. Romanos at the village Agioi Theodoroi in Lefkimmi, Corfu. Other ancient graves have been discovered in Kastanida, Paliomylos, Alati, Agios Haralambos & Anemoyiannatika of Paxoi & in Agios Aimilianos of Antipaxoi. The ruins of small megalithic constructions have been found on hills that are thought to have been used as friktories, that is to say a place where messages were transmitted by fire. Column capitals and column fragments have been found at the church of Profitis Ilias, at the Community of Gaios, at Panayia and in other locations. A part of an offering plaque is kept at the Paxoi Port Authorities Fund. Several coins have been discovered by individuals, belonging to the Classical, Byzantine, Venetian and English periods. A part of the ancient walls has been located on the islet of Panayia, outside Gais and in Kaki Lagkada.



1740 5500 Document from the Paxoi Hist. Archive (I. Doikas)
1741 6000 «
1766 2307 «
1781 7829 Corfu File 461, Venetian Government (I. Doikas)
1800 7000 Document from the Paxoi Hist. Archive (D. Zerbas)
1808 4700 «
1809 3905 Doc. from the Paxoi Hist. Archive - French Census (I. Doikas)
1820 3970 I. Doikas
1845 5017 Gazette No 59/1846
1857 4753 Gazette No 292/1857
1870 3582 Greek Govt. Gazette (GGG) No 22/1871
1879 5002 Greek Govt. Gazette (GGG) No 50/1879
1885 4592 L. Salvator
1896 3814 Greek Govt. Gazette (GGG) No 59/1897
1907 4120 (Citizens 4784) Greek Govt. Gazette (GGG) No 167/1908
1920 3282 Official Census
1928 3037 «
1940 3203 «
1951 3318 «
1961 2678 «
1971 2253 «
1981 2370 «
1991 2236 «

The population of Paxoi, according to the census data we have at our disposal, declines in the last hundred years, as is the case with all the Ionian Islands and the Greek country. It is a fact that over the past few decades, taking under consideration the low rate of births in Greece, the population of Paxoi is about the same. This is also due to the tourist growth that has resulted in economic growth and more young people decide not to leave the island.


The intellectual level of the people plays the most important role for a society. So, in Paxoi, Education was what determined the islands' cultural development. During the Venetian occupation, the priests undertook it. During the French occupation, the money of Ypapanti was used to build a school of Italian and French. In 1811 a Greek school was built with Petropoulos, from Zakynthos, as teacher.

In 1818, Nikolaos Nomikos is reported as public teacher. That same year, the school organisation made provisions for a Greek Philology teacher, held by Christodoulos Leontitsis, as well as for a teacher of Latin and Italian and one for elementary Mathematics. The two latter were vacant.

In 1820 a temporary regulation for the Paxoi Elementary Schools was voted. In 1821 a 4-grade Elementary School is established, with Ieremias -a Corfiot priest- teaching. When Guildford was High Commissioner, preparatory schools are established. In 1830, the Paxoi Gymnasium is established and stays in operation until 1864.

In 1884-85, 7 Elementary Schools and 1 Greek one operate with 8 and 3 teachers respectively. There are 264 students in the former and 32 in the latter. In 1905, 7 new school buildings are constructed (5 boys' and 2 girls') with funding from the Syngros foundation. There are 300 boys and 200 girls. In 1929, the 3-grade Greek school is transformed into a Semi-Gymnasium and in 1937 into an Urban School. In 1949 is established the 3-grade Gymnasium and in 1963 the independent first class Gymnasium. At the same time 7 Elementary Schools are established with 9 teachers. In 1938 a Lyceum is established in Paxoi and is followed by the merging of the Elementary Schools in two, one in Profitis Ilias and one in Mastoratika. At the same time, two Kindergartens are established and operating. In 1998 a new Gymnasium-Lyceum schooling complex is inaugurated in Bogdanatika.

medical/social care

Aside from practical medicine, which was widely spread throughout the Ionian Islands and the rest of Greece, scientific medicine was also practised from the very early years. The Venetian occupation was a bridge that gave many people the impulse to go to universities and study -among other sciences- Medicine. Ioannis Thoma Vellianitis (1750-1818) and I. Anemoyiannis are among the first people reported to have practised medicine in Paxoi.

In 1794 came from Kythira to Paxoi doctor Markos Paoulinis. He practised medicine on the island for 40 years, namely until he died. His services, which he offered day and night, were most valuable in 1807-1808 when small pox broke out in the island and he had to persuade all those who hesitated to get vaccinated. In 1820, the establishment of a hospital of Christian mercy for the poor is announced. During the period of the Protection, a doctor for the poor is appointed and a plate for the poor started coming round in churches. Those who arrived from suspicious ports had to stay in quarantine for 40 days, for fear of the plague.

In the Paxoi doctors and pharmacists catalogue of 10 April 1845 are listed as doctors: Aimilios Gaviolis and Ioannis Sokolis; as surgeon: Anastassios Mitsialis; as phlebotomists: Christos Vlahopoulos, Ioannis Fanariotis, Anastassios Arvanitakis and Spyridon Mastoras; as pharmacists: Christos Kagas, Ioannis Grivas and Athanassios Mitsialis; as nursing staff: Katerina Vendova and Haralambos Bogdanos. In 1836, it is reported that at the port of Gaios there is a small hospital for the garrison, constituting of a small ward capable of admitting 6 patients (I. Laskaratos). In the years 1937-1846, 402 patients were admitted, 10 of which died. At the same time the Fanariotis foundation is established, a legacy which is used for t he poor and elderly patients that are incapable of working.

Other doctors, much more recent ones, are: Anastassios Mitsialis (Datsoulos) (1854-1926) who was a philosopher-doctor and translator of L. Salvator's "Paxos and Antipaxos" as well as Martelli's "Geophysical study of Paxoi", I. Mourikis (1874-1942), Stefanos Grammatikos (1837-1894), Spyridon Argyros (1832-1888), Fotios Argyros (1868-1936), Massiga Mitsiali (1895-1981) and Panayiotis Argyros(1914-1992).

The doctors were paid with the system of the "Kondota" (a fee in olive oil, paid on an annual basis to have medical care for the entire family). The "Kondota" was kept on Paxoi until about 1965. Today there is a Health Centre at Bogdanatika, with a Pathologist, a training doctor, a midwife, a nurse, a microbiologist's assistant and a radiologist's assistant. In Gais there is also a pharmacy and a dentist's office.