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The Legend of Corfu’s Mouse Island

mouse island pontikonisi corfu
Pontikonisi, or Mouse Island, Corfu. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 3.0

Pontikonisi, also known as “Mouse Island,” is a Greek islet located at the entrance of Halkiopoulos lagoon in Corfu.

The islet is better-known for hosting the Byzantine chapel of Pantokrator, dating back to the 11th century and only open to visitors each year on August 6th.

Pontikonisi has a rich legend of which not every visitor is aware.

The Story of Pontikonisi, Corfu island

According to the legend, Pontikonisi was Odysseus’s ship, the vessel that brought the legendary king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, to the island of the Phaeacians.

It was during a terrible storm that the boat was washed up on the shores of the island, and the god Poseidon turned his boat into green rock, giving it his name.

Others say that the island got its name because when seen from above, it looks like a mouse.

This tiny green islet is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Corfu, although visits are restricted.

Tourists enjoy the best views of Pontikonisi from the Panagia Vlacherna, a church and monastery located on the homonymous tiny islet linked to the land by a small bridge.

This picturesque building was constructed in the 17th century and has impressive wooden decorations, as well as an imposing bell tower.

The History of Corfu Island

Corfu is one of Greece’s most beautiful and storied islands. It shares its name with its most populous city, Corfu, which also serves as the capital of the Ionian Island archipelago along the coast of the Ionian Sea.

Corfu’s history can be traced back all the way to Ancient Greece and Greek mythology. Corfu is known as ‘Kerkyra’ in Greek, a name derived from the nymph Korkira.

In Greek mythology, Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, falls in love with Korkira, kidnapping her and hiding her away on the island that now bears her name.

The myth claims that Poseidon and Korkira gave birth to a line of people who became known as the Phaeacians.

Corfu later makes an important appearance in another notable myth. In Odysseus’ journey back to Ithaca, he becomes shipwrecked and washes up on the shores of Corfu, where the Phaeacians help him continue on his journey back home.

It’s no coincidence that Corfu features prominently in the world of ancient Greek mythology, as there’s archaeological evidence proving that the island had developed societies as far back as the Paleolithic Era.

In fact, people were living on Corfu before it even became an island. The sea that encircles Corfu was only a lake until the most recent Ice Age caused the sea level to rise between 10,000 to 8000 BC.

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