The area of Kefalonia-Zakynthos is one of the most active areas in the world in terms of the earthquakes taking place each year. It is very common to experience one or two earthquakes per week (or more).
The Kefalonian architecture was rather heavily influenced by the various Western European nations, such as Venice, France, and Great Britain, that conquered the island from the 16th to the 18th centuries and introduced neoclassic architecture, which can be seen throughout the island’s history.
In August of 1953, the most recent earthquake took place (actually four different earthquakes in one day). These earthquakes destroyed almost every house. The worst earthquake measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. The center was on the southern tip of the island and raised it by 60 cm.This left only 25,000 residents on the Kefalonia. 600 people died and the survivors who did not leave the island rebuilt everything. The new buildings were built according to strict anti-earthquake specifications.
The island did receive international help. It got the most help from the United States, Britain, Sweden and Norway. The first ship to help the island was the British Royal Navy’s HMS Daring. A street in the town of Argostoli is named after this ship. Argostoli was home to many Venetian buildings, which were completely destroyed by the earthquake.
The beauty of the original buildings was somehow lost in the rebuilding. The old mansions and bell-towers were destroyed as well. Only two houses and a bridge survived the earthquakes of 1953. One village named Fiskardo kept the old traditional architecture, because it was the one which was far away from the center of the earthquakes, so the building were not destroyed. Agia Ierosalim is another village that managed to escape the effects of the earthquakes. It has the same Venetian houses as Fiskardo. However, the village of Assos was not as lucky as Fiskardo and Agia Ierosalim. It was completely destroyed and reduced to rubble.
For some reason, the French were in love with this town – it could have been because of the landscape. The French used their money to completely rebuild this village. The villagers showed their gratitude to the French by putting up a plaque thanking them in French and Greek. They created a new square and called it Paris.