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Home / Monuments / Old Fortress

Old Fortress

One of the most distinctive features of the portrait of the town is the two-peak rocky end of the east side which forming an ”island on the island” allows a wide observation field over the sea passage. The imposing Venetian fortifications, which separate the later simple and massive buildings of the English period in three landscaped levels, still remain intact.

Access to the town is possible through a 60 m. long iron bridge, which replaced the old drawbridge over the sea moat (contra – fossa), located on the symmetry axis of the west side, between the salients Martinengo (left) and Savorgnan (right). The entrance comprises a central vaulted passageway and two vaulted halls on its sides, while the old wooden matchboarded door as well as the slits for the chains, which were holding the drawbridge, are still to see at the single arched door opening, which is externally formed as a monumental construction.

Along the external sea canal, a 22 m. wide dry moat runs, bridged by an arched stone bridge (1603), from where the walls of the main part of the Fortress begin.

On this point, an oblong imposing building with visible brick masonry, dated from the English period, stands, while the remaining spaces are accessible through three vaulted passages located at the base of the building.

The breast wall of the higher level, in the successive vaulted niches of which one can observe coats of arms belonging to eminent citizens of the Venetian State, stands vertically to the passage. Two stone staircases, standing symmetrically to the passage, lead to the higher level. On the right side lies the open space Versiada with the doric temple of Agios Georgios in the background. On the left side stands an inclined archway leading lower to the dry moat, while on the surface visitors are directed through successive plateaux, small inclined planes and a vaulted arcade towards a small gate of the perimetric walls, to the port of Mandraki, which currently functions as a marina. An underground passage which begins at this point leads to the fortified cape Kavosidero.

The highest level of the citadel comprises the two fortified peaks, the Land Tower and the Sea Tower as well as the intermediate area, the Cittadella. The building of the Venetian Prisons, with an additional storey constructed by the English, as well as a large building housing the barracks during the English Rule, which presents a very interesting penthouse arrangement, still survive on the site. From this point on, a narrow uphill walk skirts the rock leading to the entrance of a terraced arcade, once secret, and offers access to the top of the rock, thus revealing magnificent views ofboth the town and the Fortress itself.

All Fortress areas are currently accessible (except for the interior of the two entrance salients), thus allowing an extremely interesting tour over open and covered areas of different construction periods, through narrow arcades and passages, and revealing the greatness of the past. The carved Venetian emblems with the marble winged lions of St. Mark, the various inscriptions, the coats of arms and the scattered canons contribute significantlyto the overall portrait.

The Old Fortress houses today the Archives of the Prefecture of Corfu, the Public Library’, Offices of the Ministry’ of Culture, Departments of the lonian University, rooms devoted to exhibitions or other events and it operates, in general, as an open air monumental area. In the open spaces of the Fortress (Versiada) music events take place, while there are, also, a cafe, a store selling items of cultural interest and a restaurant in Mandraki.

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