The history of Agios Stefanos begins some thousands of years ago, during the Stone Age (3.000 – 2.000 B.C).
Our oral tradition speaks of a sunk city, about which the old fishermen knew and which is now lost somewhere in the open sea. It is also said that there lay, among the underwater ruins, ancient pillars and a great number of ancient pots.
The myth of the sunk city, the river and the small ship-shaped rock which lies near the Diapontian Islands are mentioned by Homer in his Odyssey, and many people believe that here existed the famous city of the Phaeceans, at the coast of which, Ulysses was washed out by the waves after his ship sunk into the sea. He was then found by Nausica, the daughter of King Alcinoos, who offered him shelter for a few days and then sent him back to his homeland, to the island of Ithaca, in one of his ships. But Poseidon, god of the seas, was full of rage against the Phaeceans, for helping his enemy, Ulysses and punished them by turning their ship into stone, just before they sailed back into the city’s harbor.
All the above led the German archaeologist, Dorpfeld, to conduct excavations in the area of Agios Stefanos between 1972-7973 and the site of his search was visited by the German emperor Wilhelm III himself. Those excavations may not have brought the city of Alcinoos to light, but they have revealed some very interesting Neolithic settlements. These findings are kept in the archaeological museum of the City of Corfu. More excavations were conducted again later by the archaeologist H. Bulle, in 1934 and professor August Sordinas in 1964-7965, which confirmed the existence of prehistoric settlements in Agios Stefanos.
There is no information about Agios Stefanos during the Classical or the Roman period. Later in the Byzantine Era or under the Venetian occupation, the church of Agios Stefanos was built and the area was named after it. At that time the local people came up with another story about the “stone – ship”; when the pirates came to loot the church of Agios Stefanos, which was built on the island of Diaplos, Saint Stephane to whom the church is dedicated was infuriated and punished them by turning their ship into stone! Because of the fear of pirates, the area of Agios Stefanos was not regularly inhabited. Only the inhabitants of the nearby inland village of Avliotes cultivated and sowed their fields here, while in the 20th century, until 1974, there was a pottery home manufacture with the traditional method which flourished thanks to the high quality of the clay of the area.
Unfortunately, the little church was deserted through the years. But in 1930 a young monk decided to rebuild it and to dedicate his life to it. Around the church of Agios Stefanos, feasts and festivals are organized every summer. A small coffee shop was built next to the church in 1960… Few years later, the first hotel rose… The first British tourists arrived and the first British villa was built and was given the name “Quiet”… In Greece every little piece has a great history. This quiet corner of Greece is a part of the Greek history, which bears together the past and the present, myth and reality!
* Source: Union of Owners of “rooms to let” of Agios Stefanos, Avliotes