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Home / Experiences of Corfu / The Landmarks

The Landmarks

History is a series of events flowing away with time, but their marks remain on the land.
There are quite a few landmarks of wars and peace, of religion and culture, of wealth and
beauty, that adorn Corfu. And each one has a different story to share with you, and
regardless of your interests you will definitely enjoy them all. Myths and legends blend with
the history of ancient ruins, castles, churches and mansions, in narrations about Greek Gods,
heroes and epics, brilliant artists and artisans, romantic queens and industrious politicians,
but also the great story of the common people who carried the world in their shoulders in
order to deliver it to us, today.

A short walk from the town centre, lies Corfu’s historical cradle. Founded twenty eight
centuries ago by Corinthian colonists, the ancient city -called Corcyra- developed into one of
the largest city states in Greece proper and earned a place in World History due to
Thucydides’ seminal work about the War. This city was abandoned in the Middle Ages and
the area was named “Paleopolis”, i.e. the “ancient town”. Today you can see the Classical
and Roman era town’s centre and shipyards, while in the adjacent Mon Repos estate there
are more ancient Greek ruins, including the Kardaki temple, the best preserved ancient
Greek building in Corfu. The ruins of a Roman bath can be seen right there at Paleopolis,
while the traces of many Roman villas can be found in several places on the island, including
Moraitika, Benitses and Acharavi.

Medieval Sites
The Middle Ages were times of wars and firm religious faith, times of emperors, warlords,
bishops and saints, struggling for land and peoples’ loyalty. Naturally, the traces of those
times in Corfu are none other than Castles and places of worship. Not much is left of the
Byzantine fortifications of “Coryfo”, the medieval town where nowadays is the Old Fortress.
But if you drive further North or South, you will have the opportunity to explore Gardiki,
Angelokastro and Kassiopi, three castles built by the Byzantine Emperors, to prevent the
Normans, the Sicilians and the Saracens from capturing the westernmost bastion of the
Empire. Or let your steps take you to St Jason and Sosipater’s Church near Paleopolis, built a
thousand years ago and featuring a very rare architecture, but do not also forget the
Askitario at Nymphes, were the legend of medieval hermits still live on.

Venetian Era
When you come to Corfu it is apparent that the Venetian architectural influence is
dominant, exactly like the Serene Republic dominated the region for four pivotal centuries.
The Old Town is the epicenter of the Venetian landmarks, combining all aspects of life in
those centuries, in what today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the Old and the
New Fortresses which broke the Ottoman tide, wander in the “kantounia” at Campiello, the
small alleys where painters, poets and even Casanova himself once walked, and definitely
make a stop at the Old Town Hall square to admire the building which proudly hosted the
first opera house in South East Europe. And of course don’t forget the spiritual path with
the many churches, including the Roman Catholic Cathedral and St Spyridon’s church where the
Saint’s relic is kept as the symbol of this town since the 15 th century.

British and more…
Since the 19 th century Corfu came even closer to Western Europe, after a short rule by
Napoleon’s France and a much longer period under Britain. And then, after the Union with
Greece in 1864, the island maintained its European air and cosmopolitan atmosphere,
experiencing its own Belle Époque. Corfu invites you to seek for your own experiences. Stop
for a refreshing drink at the Liston next to the monumental Palace of St. Michael and St.George,
venture in the footsteps of the Greek royalty at the Mon Repos Palace where the
late Duke of Edinburgh was born, and inhale the countryside’s tranquility from the stunning
terraces of the Achilleion Palace, exactly as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria and the Kaizer
Wilhelm II of Germany once did.

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