The first newly-founded kindergarten on the tiny borderline Greek island of Ereikoussa in the Ionian Sea opened its doors to two students aged four and five.
Located in the westernmost part of Greece, Ereikoussa is one of the Diapontian Islands, an island complex to the northwest of Corfu. It had 498 inhabitants in the 2011 census.
Although a primary school had been operating on the island from 1920 to 2017 and reopened in 2020, there had never been a kindergarten on the island before.
The kindergarten teacher of Ereikoussa, 29-year-old Maria Hondrogianni, told AMNA that she commutes from Corfu every day.
“Ferry transportation to the island is not easy, especially in the winter months,” she said. “But learning knows no obstacles. The fact that a kindergarten was established in Ereikoussa for the first time is a great joy for all of us.”
Aside from her own two pre-school students, there are also two primary school students on the island, aged nine and eleven, with their own teacher.
Pirates’ passage and Venetian rule
Although there is a lack of historical evidence of regular human presence on the island in antiquity, any relevant archeological finds, such as an Early Bronze Age stone pickaxe found on Ereikoussa, can be seen on display at the Archaeological Museum of Corfu.
The scarcely inhabited Diapontian Islands were conquered by both the Franks and the Venetians during the 11th and 12th centuries, respectively, and they were often attacked by pirates until Charles III of Naples granted their usufruct to the knight Theodore Skaliti.
It is reported that Ereikoussa was colonized by residents of the nearby Othoni island in 1571 after a massacre by the pirate Barbarossa.
The Diapontian Islands passed definitively to Greek sovereignty together with the the Ionian Islands on May 21, 1864 following the signing of a treaty between England, France, Russia, and the Kingdom of Greece.
Virgin nature of Ereikoussa island
Ereikoussa is a one square mile land area and is considered one of the most virgin islands of the Ionian Sea.
The name of the round-shaped island derives from the heather bush—reiki in Greek—which is found in abundance on the island, according to an official visitor’s guide.
The only town on the island is also named Ereikoussa.
Besides heather bushes, its green forests are filled with cypress and olive trees.
Ereikoussa’s two main beaches are known for their tranquility and crystal-clear, blue waters.
The southern coast, where the settlement of Porto is located, is an immense stretch of sandy beach. A footpath goes through the lush vegetation to the northern area of the island to Pangini Beach, which is less frequented by tourists.
Both are Italian originated names, established at the time of Venetian rule.
Ereikoussa is accessible by boat from Corfu Town, Agios Stefanos, Sidari, and Acharavi as well as Corfu. Travel time may vary from forty minutes to two hours and forty-five minutes.