Corfu Island



Corfu Information

Corfu island lies at the north of the Ionian sea at the entrance of Adriatic. It is the most popular island in the group known as the Ionian Islands Or Eptanisa.

Being the most green of the Greek islands, Corfu , has three million olive trees, flower-strewn countryside and Adriatic-style villages. Corfu island offers a splendid coastal scenery and some excellent secluded beaches.

On this cosmopolitan island, you'll be able to combine relaxation with good times and a full nightlife. Corfu is an international tourist centre which can satisfy the demands of the most difficult visitors.

Corfu Sights

Achillion: The famous palace, important not only for the building itself but also for the Beautiful environment that surrounds it, belonged to the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. After her death in 1908 it was bought by Wilhelm II, the German Kaiser. Having studied ancient Greek literature, especially Homer, Sissy decorated the palace with paintings and statues referring to the Greek mythology.

One can visit the palace and walk around the first of the three stores of the building, constructed in 1889 by Rafael Corito and Antonio Lanti. At the back yard stands the magnificent statue of Achilles-to whom the palace is dedicated- showing the hero dying; the hero’s pain reflects the sensitivity of the “melancholy queen”.

In the contrary, Kaiser constructed the colossal statue of the Triumphant Achilles, sign of his power. The palace now belongs to the Greek state and is open to the public as a museum.

Kanoni : One of the most known parts of Corfu, because of the unique view to the Vlacherna Monastery and the islet of Pontikonisi. It is named after a cannon set up by the French and deffinetaly worth visiting, only 4Km from Corfu town. The Vlacherna Monastery is a picturesque church built in the 17th century,connected to thepromontory by a smal bridge. You can either walk down fromKanoni or take te road by car.Take the time to visit

Pontikonisi by a caique (only 5 minutes away); in a place full of cypress trees stands the Byzantine Church of Christ Pantokrator. The islet believed to be the ship that took Odysseus back to Ithaca and Poseidon turned to stone.

Spianada Square : The Spianada is the largest square in the Balkans. It was created in 1537-1571 by the Venetians, under the supervision of Sanmicheli, as a part of the defensive role of the Old Fortress. The Square was formed as seen today during the French rule.

The Old Fortress : The Old Fortress, which lies at the centre of the city, began to form during the Byzantine Period. When the Venetians occupied the island, they worked hard to strengthen its defenses. The fortress has two twin peaks, one facing the sea and the other facing the city outside the fortress (called the Xopoli), where the Venetians built the Castel del Mare and the Castel del Terre respectively. A moat, the Contrafossa-one of the most pretty parts of Corfu city-, separates the Fortress from the Xopoli. The bridge that stands there, was once a wooden one, which during the night and in case of emergency was being pulled up. A major part in the defensive role of the Fortress played the space between this and the Xopoli, where now stands the Spianada Square. At the higher peak one can see the light-house tower, which was the first built in Greece . The Venetians also created a magnificent system of underground tunnels that used to link the Fortress with major parts of the city. At the entrance of the Old fortress stands the statue of Matthias von Schulemberg, an Austrian general who helped the Corfiots during the Turkish attack in 1716. As written at the inscription, the statue was created while Schulemberg was alive.

The Palace of Sts Michael and George: The Palace, placing at the north end of Spianada, was built in 1819 by the architect Whitemore. It is the second palace following this of Othon (the House of Parliaments in Athens ), that despite its big dimensions is so fine in architecture.

The New Fortress: In order to provide protection to the Xopoli, the Venetians –under the supervision of F.Viteli- built the New Fortress in the north-west side of the city in 1576-1588. The fortress communicates with the sea and town through four gates; Porta Raymoundo (Gilford str.), Porta San Nicolo (Michail Theotoki str.), Porta Spilia (Nikiforou Theotoki str.) and Porta Reale (Evgeniou Voulgareos str.).

Mon Repos: In this area of 24 hectares lies a palace, which in the 1830's was the summer palace of the British High Commissioner. After 1864 (union of Corfu with Greece ), it became property of the royal family; nowadays it belongs to the Greek state.

The Ionian Parliament : Designed in 1855 by the Corfiot architect Chronis, the Ionian Parliament at Moustoxydi St is the place where in 1863 the union of the Ionian Island with Greece was declared. The building was bombed by the German during the 2 nd World War and later rebuilt. Today, it is open to the public as a Museum of the Fighters for the Freedom of the Ionian Islands.

Corfu Full History

The main mythical version about the origin of the modern name of the island, Kerkyra, is the following; God Poseidon fell in love with the Nymph Cercyra, abducted her and lay with her on the island. Their son, Phaeax, is the mythical primogenitor of the Phaeaceans, who lived in Corfu. Other names used for the island, is Makris (=long) and Drepane (=sickle) because of the length and shape respectively. Also Scheria according to Homer and Corypho during the Middle Ages. As a crossroads between east and west, Corfu has been the passage of numerous conquers. Geographically, the island was once part of the coast of Epirus . This explains the finds from Late Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (6000-2600 BC).

The first settlement of Greeks was this of Eretria in Euboea , in 760-750 BC. In 734 BC the Corinthians drove the Eretrians out and settled themselves. During the next five centuries several wars took place -Thucydides wrote about the first sea battle in the Greek history, this between Corfiots and Corinthians in 664 BC- ; the worst was this against the Spartians ( Corfiots fought in the side of Athenians). In 229 BC the rule of the island passed on to the Illyrians. In 229 BC Corfu voluntarily surrendered to the Romans, and became an important naval base for them. The Roman period lasted up to 395 AD. When the Roman Empire was split (West and East), Corfu belonged to the East ( Byzantine Empire ). During the Byzantine period (395-1267 AD) the island was part of the administrative theme of Cephalonia , and soon became an important trading-station and naval base.

From 1267 until 1386 the Island was under the rule of the angerins. The second period of Venetian rule took place in 1386-1797. It influenced the economic progress and the assimilation of numerous elements in the mental makeup and culture of the Venetians. Considerably, Corfu was called the Gibraltar of the Adriatic. Despite the peaceful co-operation with the Venetians, this period was full of attacks by neighboring states; Genoa in 1403&1432, the Turks in 1431, 1571, 1573 and pirates by Hair-ed-Din Barbarossa (who slaughtered thousands of Corfiots in 1537).

In 1716 thelast unsuccessful attempt by the Turks took place; this anniversary is celebrated in the 11th of August annually in honor of St.Spyridon. In 1797 the General Gentily under Napoleon Bonaparte dominated Corfu , and the Ionian Islands became part of the republican French until 1799. They contributed to the education and founded the first printing-house. The "parade" of conquers went on with the Russians and Turks (1799-1807). According to the Treaty of Constantinople in 1800 the Ionian Islands became the " Septinsular Republic ", which was provided with autonomy and had Corfu as a capital. This situation lasted until the Russo-Turkish war in 1806, when the " Septinsular Republic " had to fight on the Russian side.

In 1807 the Ionian Islands became once again property of Napoleon, under the Treaty of Tilsit between Russia and France , until 1814 when Napoleon fell. This is when the Islands were placed under British protection. Two years later (1816), the Ionian Islands were recognized as a United State under British control, as it was governed by a British High Commissioner.

At last in the 21st of May 1864 the Ionian Islands returned to the rule of the Greek State . This anniversary is still celebrated and one can see the Monument of the Union.

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