Combining vacations with art and culture require an appreciation for the finer things in life and a desire to simply explore the beauty of the world around you. Corfu is a place of exceptional natural beauty, invigorating sights and sounds of a dynamic culture which overflows with the legacy of Corinthian, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and French.
Spianada Square is the main square of the island and the central meeting spot of locals and visitors, situated in Corfu Old Town. It was constructed to resemble the European Royal Gardens. It is the largest square in the Balkans and one of the largest in Europe.
Next to Spianada Square is Liston, a wide promenade with French and Venetian style buildings, which is always full of people enjoying their coffee, drink or snack at one of Liston’s many cafes.
The Old Fortress, located on the eastern side of Corfu’s port, was built initially during Byzantines times. It was reinforced by the Venetians and later by the British. It had a moat and draw bridge, which has now been replaced by a steal bridge that connects the fortress to the city. The most significant monuments in the Old Fortress are: the central gate, the Savornian, Martinego and Mandrakios ramparts, the land and sea towers, St. George’s Church, the Roman Temple, the prison, the British hospital and the British barracks. In the fortress are housed the Municipal Library, the Archives, the Byzantine collection and the Conference Center.
The construction of the New Fortress in Corfu Town began in 1576 and was completed in 1645. The fortress overlooks the old port and is considered a masterpiece of fortress architecture. The most significant attractions of the New Fortress are: the British barracks, the underground stoas, water ducts, ammunition storage rooms etc. The Museum of Ceramic Art is housed there. Theatrical performances, exhibitions and concerts are also held on the fortress premises.
The Church of Saint Spyridon was initially built in Sarocco sqare, Corfu Town. However, in 1590 it was erected in its present location. The architecture of the church is typical of the Venetian architecture that dominates all over the Old Town of Corfu. It’s bell tower is the highest spot of the town and this is the first thing that you see as the ferry approaches the island. The locals have deep faith in Saint Spyridon, who is considered the keeper of Corfu.
The Town Hall of Corfu, located in Old Town, is one of the most impressive Venetian architectural structures of the island. It was originally constructed between 1663 and 1693. In 1720, the building hosted the Noble Theatre of Saint Giacomo of Corfu and in 1903 it was turned into a Town Hall.
The postcard view from Kanoni to Vlaherna islet and Pondikonisi: cliched, but still unmissable. The belvedere, once defended by a canon (thus the name), now with handy cafes, is served by no. 2 city bus, or point a bike there (car-parking space is rare in season). Vlaherna, tethered to the main island with a causeway, is completely covered by the Venetian-era white monastery of Panagia Vlahernon.
From the base of the jetty, excursion boats chug out to Pondikonisi (Mouse Island), home to dense stands of trees and a tiny Byzantine chapel, plus a seasonal caretaker with his cats. Along with several other islets around Corfu, this claims to be the petrified, ancient Phaecian ship, returning from ferrying Odysseus home to Ithaca, so rendered by Poseidon in revenge for Odysseus’ blinding of his son Polyphemos the Cyclops.
The Ancient Site of Palaiopolis is located near Mon Repo. Palaiopolis was the ancient agora of Corfu Island. The most noteworthy monuments of the site are: the agora, the Doric Style Temple of Kardakios, the Roman Baths and Post-Hellenistic curved building.
Mon Repos Palace is situated on top of Analipsis hill, near Kanoni area, in the middle of a beautiful setting full of greenery. It was built in 1826 by the British Commissioner Frederic Adams as a gift to his Corfiot wife, Nina Palatianou. It is a small but very beautiful palace with colonial architectural elements. It hosts a museum that includes many Ionian treasures. The palace itself is placed in a very nice environment and is surrounded by a large park. The remains of the ancient town of Corfu, which have been found opposite to the palace, make archaeologists believe that Mon Repos was built right on the site where the ancient city of Corfu used to be.
Old (Palea) Perithia, a Venetian-era village nestled in a hollow on the north slope of island summit Mount Pandokrator, 8 km from Kassiopi, was abandoned from the 1960s onwards, resulting in a medieval time-capsule. The most noteworthy single monument is the 14th-century church of Agios Iakovos O Persis at the village approach. This is currently being restored under the supervision of the Byzantine archaeological authorities (project set to finish 2015), with brilliant frescoes being uncovered and preserved. Since the 1990s, it has attracted both casual visitors and those after second-home restoration projects. Palea Perithia lies astride the long-distance Corfu Trail (plus is a trailhead for more worthwhile, shorter hikes to nearby villages), though wild bulls roam the countryside – ask local advice as to their current whereabouts. Several good tavernas also make it a popular excursion target.
Kassiopi This mass-market resort, at the end of the corniche route threading through the more rarified havens of “Kensington on Sea”, is one of the few north-coast spots that has kept its charm. It has been a resort of sorts since Roman imperial times – Tiberius had a villa here, and Nero paid a musical visit with his lyre in AD 66 – and it’s easy to see why, with a deeply indented fishing port flanked by a small Angevin castle from the 13 century. There are plenty of small beaches within walking or cycling distance: four secluded ones fringing the castle headland, plus Kogevinas (aka Sykia) and Avlaki east of town.
Angelokastro is located near Krini. Despite repairs and consolidation, there’s not much left inside this compact castle besides an underground church and some cisterns, but the views amply reward the short climb to the summit with its little chapel and much older rock-cut tombs beside it. Originally a 12-century foundation of Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos, the Venetians later used Angelokastro as a watchpoint to survey Adriatic sea-lanes – at the first sign of trouble, signal fires relayed the news to Corfu Town’s fortresses. Opening hours are erratic, and it may even be left unlocked, but assume entrance allowed only May–Sept Mon–Fri 8.30am–3pm.
Theotokou monastery, Paleokastritsa being firmly on the tour-coach circuit hasn’t diminished the appeal of this lovely eyrie, atop the bluff beyond Paleokastritsa’s various coves. Although founded during the 13th century, the present, pastel-hued monastery (daily 9am–1pm & 3–8pm) was rebuilt after a fire some 500 years later. The church is crammed full of noteworthy icons; there are more (most noteworthy a 17th-century St George by Theodoros Poulakis) in a little museum occupying the former olive press (including the disarticulated skeleton of a whale), while burgeoning potted plants plus cascading bougainvillea fill the courtyard and the arcaded passageways around it. A half-dozen monks still live here.
Aqualand is placed near Agios Ioannis village and can be reached following the main road to Glyfada. It is said to be the most amazing water park in Europe. It extends for 75,000 square metres and has free parking spaces for 600 cars. There are many water games, pools that count on 7 different kinds of waves. You can also find a bouncing castle for children, an adventurous playground and an arcade room with electronic games, a table tennis court, a pool billiard and a mini soccer terrain. Experienced lifeguards make sure you are safe and there are services for people with special needs. Is open from May to October. There is an available bus service from Corfu Town to this park and the trip takes just 20 minutes.
Watch a cricket match. Every summer the Spianada Square hosts a cricket match between featuring players from Corfu’s cricket club and a visiting team. It’s a great reminder of the influence the British had on the island in the 19th century when for nearly 50 years Corfu became a British protectorate before being returned, along with the other Ionian Isles, to Greece.
Corfu offers a wide variety of activities for visitors. But also gives the opportunity to explore the Historical and Archaeological Museums and the Art Galleries.
Near the village of Gastouri, 10km’s south west of Corfu Town, it was built the Achilleon Palace by the Empress Elizabeth of Austria (known as ‘Sissi’). The statues that surround the palace of Achilleion inspired by ancient Greek mythology. At the outer areas of the palace there are the most valuable statue of the mythological Greek hero, the ‘Dying Achilles’ and the largest statue of Achilles the ‘Victorious Achilles’. After the death of Empress Elizabeth William II of Germany purchased the palace and used it as his summer house. During the First and Second World War the palace was abandoned and inevitable pillaged by the enemy. Finally, the palace restored to its former beauty containing the personal items of the owners and their original furniture.
Near the Old Town, in Garitsa quarter is located the Archaeological Museum which is enriched by archaeological finds from the ancient cities of the island. It was built to house the Gorgon pediment from the temple of Artemis. The collection comes from the archaic period, bronze and marble statues, clay pottery, golden jewelry and parts of ancient temples. The most significant exhibit is the impressive ‘Gorgona-Medusa’ pediment from the temple of Artemis, a 5th century BC. Moreover, one of the most beautiful exhibits is the archaic lion (7th century BC) which was found near Menecrate’s tomb. The collection also includes a limestone pediment from a temple of Dionysus, finds from the temple of Hera and the temple of Apollo, and a large collection of Corcyran coins.
The museum is closed to the public from May 2012 until the summer of 2015 due to renovation works funded in the context of the Regional Operational Program of Western Greece- Peloponnese- Ionian Islands (project title ‘Retrofit and re-exhibition at the Archaeological Museum of Corfu’).
from variety of Asian countries. The greater part of the collection, more than ten thousand objects, come from China and Japan, while the rest come from Tibet, Korea, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand and Cambodia. The museum’s collections have grown through private donations, which the most significant are of the diplomat Grigorios Manos, N. Chatzivasileiou and Ch. Chiotakis. The museum organizes temporary exhibitions and educational programs and collaborates with other museums.
The Byzantine Museum is located at the center of Corfu Town in the area of Campiello at Arseniou street and it is housed in the Church of the Blessed Virgin Antivouniotissa (Kyra Antivouniotissa). It is one of the city’s oldest and richest ecclesiastical monuments. It is the only church-museum in Greece. Exhibits early Christian sculptures, parts of Byzantine frescoes and a collection of portable Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons from 15th to 19th century by anonymous or famous artists including Nikolaos Tzafouris, Michael Damaskenos, Emmanuel Lombardos, Emmanuel Tzanes, and Victor and Michael Avramis.
Near the Byzantine museum is the house that lived for the greater part of his life and to the day of his death the national poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857). The house destroyed by the World War II bombings, but was later restored by the Corfiot Studies. It is preserved the poet’s desk, a collection of poet’s manuscripts, photographic material and various portraits. You can find the entire collection of old published copies of the Greek National Anthem, ‘The Hymn of Liberty’, as well as series of portraits of the poet and the member of the so-called ‘Solomos School’. The museum operates as a library.
The Museum of Kapodistrias or Kapodistrias Museum-Centre of Kapodistrian Studies is located in the family property in the rural area of Koukouritsa, Evropouli and established in 1981. The property was donated by Maria Desylla- Kapodistria. The collection are furniture, artifacts of the era and personal articles of Ioannis Kapodistrias, one of the most important politicians and diplomats in modern Greek history.
The Sea Shell Museum is located in Benitses and established in 1989 by a diver and collector, Napoleon Sagia. Exhibits findings from the Indian, Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Some of the collection are shells, fossils, spongers, corals, embalmed fish, lobsters, crabs, snakes, sea urchins, sharks and shark jaws.
Located in the St. Michael and St. George Palace the Municipal Art Gallery of Corfu established in 1978 and is the only one private institution that exhibits corfiot art. Contains a huge collection of paintings by corfiot artists of 19th century that were donated. Additional activities: periodic exhibitions, educational programs for students, seminars and lectures.
In 1993 established in Corfu the annex of the National Gallery, in the area of Kato Korakiana. Housed in two renovated historical buildings, Castelino and Casteleto, exhibits collections of modern Greek painters from the early post Byzantine times up to contemporary works of the last decade. Additional activities: temporary exhibitions and educational programs for students.
The museum Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros opened in September of 2010 and it’s housed on the first floor of the Old Philarmonic Society’s building at Nikiforou street. The music museum was established to honor and present the history of the Philarmonic Society founded in 1840, of which N. Mantzaros was the first director. The museum is dedicated to the Corfiot N. Mantzaros, who composed the Greek National Anthem. The museum presents the history of the Philarmonic Society of Corfu containing old musical instruments, photographs, scores and rare early recordings.
Located at the Corfu Town, the Serbian Museum contains rare exhibits of the Serbian soldier’s who found shelter in the island of Corfu during the Word War I. The museum contains various objects of the World War I, such as photographs of the Serbians staying in Corfu, maps, documents, uniforms, arms and ammunition of the army, regimental flags, religious artifacts, surgical tools etc.
In the traditional village of Kinopiastes, south of Corfu is located the Olive Museum which exhibits a various collection of tools for the elaboration of olives. Corfu has a great tradition in cultivation of olive trees. Venetians and Corfiots created this tradition that still endures.
The Folklore Museum is housed in Acharavi, north of Corfu and was inaugurated in October 2008 by the owner Spyros Vlaxos who has been collecting, maintaining and promoting local folk objects. The exhibition is located in two rooms. The objects which have been mainly donated are: photographic material, books and documents of 1862, numismatic collection of Ionian Islands of 19th century, locals costumes of 1800, folk furniture, agricultural objects, traditional olive press, wine producing devices etc.
History and Folklore Museum of Central Corfu, Sinarades well signposted near the north entrance of an appealing village, this traditional Corfiot house holds two floors worth of exhibits. The ground floor has been left essentially as it was when inhabited, while the single-room upstairs gallery is devoted to a miscellany of bygone rural impedimenta and household widgets. The star exhibit is a surviving chunk of papyrella raft made of cane fennel, of a type used along Corfu’s west coast until the 1950s; equally intriguing are a moray-eel trap of the same material, a wicker cage to keep toddlers from wandering off, and two ‘birthing’ saddles used by local women whilst in labour.