Corfu!! The place where tha Venetians, the French and the British used to live.
With the passage of time the island may have changed, but we can still feel the spirit of a distant glorious past. Its rich multi-cultural heritage, its historic monuments, its stunning natural landscape, its crystal clear seas, and its excellent weather all year round explain why Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations weaving a powerful spell on its visitors.
Corfu (Kérkyra), unlike the rest of Greece, never fell under the Ottoman oppression. Due to the successive dominations of the Venetians, the French and the British over the centuries, the island has primarily become part of the Western rather the Levantine world. Their culture wielded strong influence in the city: it was here that the first Greek University (the Ionian Academy), the first Philharmonic Orchestra and the First School of Fine Arts were founded.
In the beautifully preserved Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO world heritage site, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical “repertoire” came to be successfully applied to local artistic traditions. Palaces, fortresses, austere public buildings of the Venetian rule uniquely blend with lines of drying washing in tiny alleyways and small secluded squares. Strolling through a complex of narrow cobbled streets with stairways and vaulted passages, the so-called “kantoúnia”, will make you feel as if you’ve travelled to Genoa or Naples. Discover the most beautiful spots in the city of Corfu walking through:
• Spianáda, the largest square in the Balkans, is the centre of the city, adorned with 19th-century remarkable works of French architecture. Here you can watch cricket games, or attend in musical concerts organised throughout the year.
• Listón, the city’s trademark, where the aristocrats used to enjoy their evening promenades. The characteristic arcades form the most romantic background setting for a welcome cup of coffee at one of the town’s cosy cafés.
• The smart suburbs: Mandoúki, Garitsa and Sarókos.
The most important city’s attractions bear eloquent witness to its rich history:
• The impressive 15th century Old Fortress, as well as the New Fortress.
• The Saint Michael and George Palace at the northern part of Spianáda, built during the British occupation.
• A considerable number of churches. The most imposing one is the city’s Cathedral, the Church of St. Spyridon, the island’s patron Saint, whose relics are kept here. The church’s immensely tall bell tower certainly reminds us of that of San Giorgio dei Greci in Venice. Four processions are held every year during which the body of Saint Spyridon is carried around the streets of the city (on Palm and Easter Sunday, on April 11th and the first Sunday in November). All the philharmonic bands of the city accompany the processions creating a remarkable awe-inspiring spectacle.
Call in at the city’s fascinating museums:
• The Museum of Asian Art: Being the only one of its kind, it was founded in 1927 after the donation of 10.500 items by Gregorios Manos. Until 1974 it was a Chinese and Japanese Art museum, but it was then enriched with other private collections.It is housed in Saint Michael and George Palace.
• Archaeological Museum: Here you can admire important finds from the temple of Artemis and excavation finds from the ancient city of Corfu.
• Byzantine Museum: It is housed in the Church of the Virgin Mary Antivouniotissa and houses an interesting collection of icons and ecclesiastic items from the 15th to the 19th century.
• The Banknote Museum showcases a collection of Greek coinage from 1822 to the present day.
• Dionysios Solomos Museum: The national Poet of Greece left Zakynthos and moved to Corfu, important intellectual centre of the Ionian islands in those years. Solomos lived in a state of self-imposed isolation, and Corfu offered him the ideal environment to work on his studies in poetry. Today his house hosts a museum dedicated to his honour.