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Friday, 17 October 2008

Places to Visit in Corfu

Listed here are some places that you might like to visit when you are in Corfu. They do not include the Museums, which are in an earlier post.

OLD FORTRESS
This fortress was built by the Venetians in two stages – the first in the 15th century and the second between the 16th and the 18th centuries. It was finally completed with additions and alterations made by the British. Today, there remain two large bastions, where the names of the Italian engineers Martinengo and Savorgnan can be seen inscribed, along with later British buildings such as the church of St. George, built in 1840 as a basilica.
ACHILLEION PALACE
This wonderful Palace was built for the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth von Wiltelsbach (more familiarly known as Princess Sissy) by the Italian architect Raffaele Carito in 1892. The Empress chose Corfu as her permanent residence because of her love of its natural beauty and its mythology, which she honoured by naming the palace after the hero Achilles and filling the wonderful gardens with statues of Greek gods, philosophers and Muses. The museum houses a collection personal possessions of the Empress and of Kaiser William II.
THE LISTON

With its series of arches forming the western boundary of the Esplanade and designed by Mathieu de Lesseps in 1807, the Liston looks similar to the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. The name Liston comes from the Venetian practice of having a list of noble families in the Libro d’Oro or Golden Book and only those on this list were allowed to promenade here. It is Corfu’s traditional meeting place where people come to read and drink coffee or ouzo at the cafes or watch band or majorette parades as well as religious processions.
LAKE KORISSION
Lake Korission’s lakeshore is lush with reeds and cane, glasswort, poplar, walnut, willow, plane and many other plants and trees which thrive on wetland shores and a very rare orchid – Orchis palustris – is found only here. Wildlife including weasels, foxes, hedgehogs and otters can be seen along with some of Corfu’s rich reptile fauna and many species of birds.

NEW FORTRESS
Standing proudly on the hill of St. Mark, this fortress with its twin bastions offers a glorious view of Corfu Town and the Ionian Sea. Originally built between 1572 and 1645, it has recently been restored and is often used exhibitions, concerts and many other cultural activities. There is a bar/café within the fortress and a gallery offering various publications.

THE ESPLANADE

This mixture of town square and park between the Liston and the Old Fortress offers relief from the packed streets in summer. Near the fountain is the marble Enosis Monument (the word ’enosis’ means ‘unification’), which commemorates the 1864 union of the Ionian islands with the rest of Greece, with intricate carvings representing each of the Ionian Islands. A statue of Ioannis Capodistrias, modern Greece’s first president in 1827, and a native of Corfu, stands at the end of the street that flanks the Esplanade and bears his name. Facing this is the Maitland Rotunda (1816), a memorial to Sir Thomas Maitland who became Britain’s first Lord High Commissioner to Corfu after the island became a British Protectorate in 1814. A bandstand, which is the focus for the Celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Saturday at midnight, offers musical performances throughout the year.

PANTOKRATOR MOUNTAIN

Set at a height of 915 metres above sea level with a 17th century church on its peak. The word Pantokrator means ‘Ruler of Everything’ or ‘Christ, Lord of All’. Farming used to take place on the slopes and you can see the threshing-floors (alonia), the dry stone boundary walls, the stone water cisterns and the isolated buildings from these times scattered over the slopes. The area is now a paradise for walkers and is ideal for jeep safaris with wonderful views and lots of wild flowers. During August, the biggest festival on the island takes place here.

SAINT SPYRIDON CHURCH
St. Spyridon is the patron saint of the island of Corfu and one of the great Saints of Greek Orthodoxy. Thousands of visitors from all over Greece come on pilgrimage every year to this church, which is the most famous on the island.

Built in 1589, it has the island’s tallest campanile, which is similar to that of the San Giorgio del Greci in Venice.

ANGELOKASTRO

This old Byzantine fortress is situated on a cliff top on the northwest shore of Corfu, near to the small town of Krini. The fortress was originally built as an outpost in the 13th century and later, during Venetian rule, it became the Governor’s seat before falling into partial ruin. Remains include a chapel, a shrine and a hermit cell and the grounds offer marvellous views.

PALACE OF ST. MICHAEL AND ST. GEORGE
Standing at the northern end of the Esplanade, this palace was built between 1814 and 1824 to a design by Sir George Whitmore. It has two wings, dedicatd to the Archangel Michael and St. George and the main entrance is fronted by a colonnade in Doric style. It was completely restored in 1994 to host the European Leaders Summit Conference.

OLD PERITHIA
This village was once the wealthy capital of the Municipality of Kassopaion. In the 20th century, the village was mainly abandoned and now, with its stone-built mansions and many churches, it is a ‘living museum’ with only a few people living there in the winter. In July there is a colourful procession here with the icon of the Virgin carried around the village.

IASON AND SOSIPATROS CHURCH
Also known as the Church of St. Jason and St. Sosipatros, this Byzantine church, constructed around 1000 AD on an older church of a monastery, was originally dedicated to St. Andrew. Only a few fragments of the wall frescoes have survived and new icons were painted in the 17th century by the famous Cretan artist Emmanuel Tzanes. Starting in the 1960s the church was restored and is now fully functional.


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