Vathi or Hora, is the largest settlement in Ithaca and the capital of the island since the 16th century. It is situated in a deep sheltered bay, one of the safest natural bays in Greece. In the middle of the bay lies a tiny islet named "Lazareto" on which stands the church of "Sotiros" (Saviour) built in 1668. Once a place where sick people were quarantined and later a prison, it is now a popular wedding destination for locals and foreigners as well. Vathi is a small picturesque town where houses with red terracotta-tiled roofs are set around the port, surrounded by the green slopes of the hills. Most of the houses retain their traditional architectural style, thus the village has been listed as a traditional preservable settlement since 1978.
The small town was badly damaged by an earthquake back in 1953. Most of the buildings were demolished, leaving only a few standing. Amongst those destroyed were Venetian public buildings and houses which fortunately were rebuilt in the same manner. The main attractions include lovely mansions, the cathedral of the Virgin Mary with its wonderful wooden iconostasis, the Archaeological Museum that houses a collection of various findings of the Geometric, Mycenaean and Corinthian period from all parts of the island and the Maritime Museum with over 1.500 exhibits. At the entrance of the port, on both sides, still remains a fort that was built by the French in 1807 in order to confront the English. Finally, worth seeing is the church of Agios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) near the town’s center where you can find an ecclesiastical icon painted by the famous El Greco.
Today, Vathi is a popular destination for the many tourists who visit the Ionian islands and its port a safe anchorage for sailboats and motorboats. In Vathi, visitors can find traditional restaurants, fish tavernas, cafes, shops, souvenir shops, several hotels and many rooms to let.