Town of Corfu, Greece

Corfu is an Ionian island and its largest city. Before it was transferred to Greece during the Treaty of London in 1864, it was a protectorate of the United Kingdom and ruled by the Republic of Venice. The entire Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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1 Old Fortress and New Fortress in Corfu, Greece

Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea and also the name of its largest city. The Old Fortress in the center dates back to the 6th century during the Byzantine Period when this town was called Koryfo (means summit) or Corcyra in Latin. The early fortification was expanded during the 12th century, significantly replaced during the Republic of Venice’s rule from 1386 – 1797 and then extensively modified by the British. The Venetians also constructed the New Fortress on the left during the mid-16th century. Most of what is seen today was constructed while Corfu was a protectorate of the United Kingdom from 1815 until 1864. Both fortifications are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This view from the Bay of Garitsa makes it easy to see why the Greek’s call this Kastropolis or Castle City.

Ikoumenikou Patriarchou Athinagora, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

2 Old Quarter of Corfu, Greece

Starting in the 6th century and until the 13th century, Corfu residents lived within the walls of the fortified peninsula seen as the summit in the upper right corner. Over the centuries, this became more of a military fort. Therefore, the town of Koryfo grew up outside of the protective walls and in the valley between the Old Fortress and the New Fortress. In the foreground is the Old Quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entire city of Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek) has about 30,000 people. The red dome in the center is the bell tower of Saint Spyridon Church.

Old British Barraks Dionisiou Solomou 20, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

3 New Fortress on St. Mark Hill in Corfu, Greece

The New Fortress standing on top of St. Mark Hill defines the western boarder of Corfu’s Old Town. This view from the port clearly shows its two levels. The lower bastion wall was built by the Venetians during the 16th century. It withstood an attack by 8,000 Ottoman Turks in 1716.The structures on top were added during the British Protectorate period (1815-1864). Although many of these defenses were demolished in 1864 when Corfu became a Greek island, the Fortezza Nuova remains an exciting, historic structure to explore.

Plateia Neoi Froiriou 2, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

4 Bastion Entrance to New Fortress in Corfu, Greece

Entry to the New Fortress starts near a market that once was a dry moat for the castle. You then proceed up this Castello della Campana. The bastion here was built in 1580 and reaches a height of 180 feet. You proceed through a tunnel and stairs until you reach the upper level. The buildings are mostly empty but you can walk inside them. The best part of walking to the top of San Marco or New Castle is the superb view the town and bay.

Old British Barraks Dionisiou Solomou 20, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

5 Tower and Dome of Tenedos Church in Corfu, Greece

As the island of Tenedos was being seized by the Ottoman Turks, some Venetian clergy escaped with a precious icon of the Virgin Mary. When they arrive in Corfu at the end of the 15th century they built a church and monastery. It was called the Roman Catholic Church of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel Tenedos. This church at the top of Solomou street near the New Fortress was renovated in 1798 but it needs it again. However, its dome and bell tower speak to its former beauty.

Dionisiou Solomou Kerkira 491 00, Greece

6 Holocaust Memorial Statue in Corfu, Greece

A Jewish population has lived on the Island of Corfu since the mid-12th century. Over the centuries they experienced everything from acceptance to prosperity to persecution. The darkest period occurred in June, 1944, when the Germans ordered them to report. After a brief interment at the Old Fortress, about 1,800 Jews were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp where most were killed in the gas chambers. Today, only about 50 Jewish people live in Corfu. This Holocaust Memorial Statue stands at the Plateia Solomou square in the Jewish Quarter called Evraiki. It is titled “Never Again in Any Nation.”

Plateia Neoi Froiriou 2, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

7 Arseniou Street Coastal View in Corfu, Greece

Arseniou is a short, one-way street that winds along the shore in the northeast corner of Corfu called the Campiello Quarter. It is worth strolling along the promenade above the seawall for great views of the Gulf of Kerkyra. And if you want to extend your pleasure, then dine at one of the restaurants you’ll pass along the way.

Arseniou 9 Kerkira 491 00, Greece

8 Kapodistrias Mansion in Corfu, Greece

The Kapodistrias Mansion in the Mouragia Quarter of Corfu has an elevated position over the Faliraki Square with a magnificent view of the Gulf of Kerkyra. It was built in the early 19th century but has retained the name of the Kapodistrias family that lived on this site during the 18th century. It has been the home of the Ionian Senate president, then the Prefecture offices and, during WWII, Italian and German officers. Since 1977 it has been part of the Ionian University.

Kapodistriou 122, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

9 Palace of St. Michael and George in Corfu, Greece

The Palace of Saints Michael and George was commissioned by Sir Thomas Maitland when he became the Lord High Commissioner of Ionian Islands. The City Palace was designed by British architect Sir George Whitmore and was finished a few months after Corfu’s governor died in 1824. It then became the residence of successive High Commissioners. Since 1927, it has served as the Museum of Asian Art.

Palea Anaktora, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

Cat Napping in Corfu, Greece

It is the same worldwide: a fed and content cat is a napping cat.

10 Tower of Saint Spyridon Church in Corfu, Greece

This stunning red bell tower with a Venetian design is the pinnacle of Saint Spyridon located at the Square of the Saint. The Greek Orthodox church was built in 1590. It is named after Saint Spyridon, the Bishop of Trimythous, who lived from 270 until 348 A.D. As the patron saint of Corfu, he is called the Keeper of the City. When his relics were returned to Corfu from Constantinople in 1452, it is believed he protected the town from several disasters. His remains are carried through town four times a year during religious ceremonies. On the left is the upper façade of Saint Vassilios Church.

Filarmonikis 19, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

11 Origin of Shopping Street Names in Corfu, Greece

Two of Corfu’s main shopping corridors honor 18th century scholars who had parallel careers. The street with the high-end brands is Evgeniou Voulgareos, named after Eugenios Voulgaris (1716 – 1806). This woman is window shopping through the arches along Nikiforou Theotoki. Its namesake is Nikephoros Theotokis (1731-1800). Both religious leaders were born in Corfu, were prominent Greek Orthodox teachers and archbishops in Russia.

Nikiforou Theotoki 10, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

12 Shopping Suggestions in Corfu, Greece

Most of the town’s retail district starts at Liston and runs west along parallel streets through Old Town. Name brand items are rarely a bargain. However, it is fun to hunt for local specialties such as ceramics, jewelry and leather. Also watch for carved products made from olive wood. You can find some inexpensive yet great souvenirs for the home like kitchen utensils.

Nikiforou Theotoki 16, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

13 Town Hall of Corfu, Greece

When this building opened in 1693 it was a Venetian nobleman’s lodge. In 1720 it became a theater named Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo and Greece’s first opera house. The Noble Theatre of Saint Giacomo operated until 1893. In 1903 it was converted into the Town Hall of Corfu. It suffered extensive damage during WWII but has been refurbished to its former beauty.

Dimarchou Kolla & Gkilford, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

Old Wooden Door in Corfu, Greece

I admire the person (most likely a man) who randomly nailed these three boards onto this old wooden door in a hideous attempt to repair it. There is no display of carpentry skill here or pride in workmanship. But he finally checked off the honey-do list the task called “fix the damn door.”

14 The Liston Streetlamps in Corfu, Greece

Running parallel to the western edge of Spianada Square is the Liston, a long building with an exquisite colonnade and a row of these overhead street lamps. It was designed by French architect Mathieu de Lesseps and built in 1807 as a barracks for Royal French soldiers and officers. Today it is a great place to enjoy an elegant meal or a simple cup of coffee while watching people stroll along the Esplanade. The name Liston is derived for the Venetian word for “city square” or “straight road for walking.”

Viktoros Dousmani 70, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

15 Buildings in Old Town of Corfu, Greece

The Old Town of Corfu is delightful to explore on foot. Some people favor its shopping, others treasure its two massive forts, many list its bays and squares as their favorites but I enjoyed its architecture. On either side of its cobblestone streets are buildings that mirror its historical past. Most visible are facades that reflect the Venetian, British and French periods blended together in a seamless charm.

Kapodistriou 44 Kerkira 491 00, Greece

16 Music Pavilion at Spianada Square in Corfu, Greece

The largest public space in Corfu is the Spianada Square. It’s Italian name means “flatten” because it was originally used as an open space for military operations. Then it took shape as a tree-shaded park in the early 17th century. Also called Esplanade, it is one of the largest squares in Greece and across the Balkan Peninsula. This Music Pavilion is used for summer concerts by the philharmonics and other musicians. The area also hosts numerous festivals and events.

Kapodistriou & Leon Seremeti Kerkira 491 00, Greece

17 Maitland Monument in Corfu, Greece

Sir Thomas Maitland was a lieutenant-general in the British army and, from 1815 until 1823, he was the Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. This monument, called the Peristyle of Maitland, is located in Spianada Square. Its 20 Ionic columns and circular base were built with Maltese limestone. This seems appropriate because he was simultaneously the Governor of Malta until he died in 1824.

Leof. Dimokratias & Agoniston Politechniou, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

18 Old Fortress from Garitsa Bay in Corfu, Greece

This view of the Old Fortress from Solomos Square along Garitsa Bay shows how enormous it is: 1,968 feet long and 656 feet wide. The huge wall in the foreground is one of two bastions flanking its main gate. They are named Martinego and Savorgnan after the engineers who designed them. The Greek temple is St. George’s church. At the peak is a lighthouse called Castel a Terra. On the left is a bell tower. This fort survived three attacks by the Ottomans during the Sieges of 1537, 1571 and 1716.

Agoniston Politechniou, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

19 Count Schulenburg Statue in Corfu, Greece

This statue is a tribute to Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg. He was recruited by the Republic of Venice to help defend Corfu from the Turks when they were attacking neighboring Ionian Islands. In 1716, Count Schulenburg and his men successfully repelled the Ottoman army during the Siege of Corfu. Italian artist Antonio Gorradini sculpted this statue from Carrara marble. It stands near the Old Fortress where part of the battle occurred.

Agoniston Politechniou & Viktoros Dousmani, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

20 Moat along Old Fortress in Corfu, Greece

As you walk from the Esplanade across the 196 foot bridge leading to the Old Fortress’ main gate, look down the 49 feet below. This moat, which the locals call Contrafossa, was dug by the Venetians during the 16th century. It technically converted the fortified peninsula into an island. On either side are dry ditches. The British replaced the old wooden bridge with the current iron one in 1819.

Agoniston Politechniou & Viktoros Dousmani, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

21 Arched Entry Gate at Old Fortress in Corfu, Greece

When you enter the mid-16th century front gate through this arched corridor of the Old Fortress you will probably be in a hurry to explore this castle that whispers of its Byzantine, Venetian and British history. So before you leave, take time to explore the gift shop near this arched entry.

Old Fortress of Corfu Town Kerkira 491 00, Greece

22 St. George’s Church at Old Fortress in Corfu, Greece

Construction of the Agios Georgious started in 1840 as an Anglican church to serve British soldiers who were stationed at the Old Fortress. When Corfu was ceded to Greece in 1864, the denomination changed to Greek Orthodox the following year. St. George’s Church was heavily damaged by German air raids in 1943. However by 2008 it was restored to its Georgian neo-classical design with a marble facade that resembles a Doric Temple. The lighthouse in the background is Paleo Enetiko Frouno.

Agoniston Politechniou Kerkira 491 00, Greece

23 Lighthouse at Old Fortress in Corfu, Greece

The Byzantines selected the highest peak of the peninsula to construct their early fortifications. They called it Sea-Tower. In 1822, the Greeks built their country’s first stone lighthouse – Paleo Enetiko Frouno – on the other peak called Land Tower. It is a hike up the Castel a Terra (Castle Near the Land) summit to reach the top but the views of the city and bays are worth the climb. The light is nearly 210 feet tall.

Agoniston Politechniou, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

24 Clock Tower at Old Fortress in Corfu, Greece

The smaller of the two peaks at the Old Fortress has several names: Castel a Terra, New Castle, Castle Near the Land and Land Tower. As you walk along its base you’ll see the remains of the Campana Fort and this red clock tower. When you reach the flat, dusty plateau you can explore the ruins of a 1786 prison and a display of Venetian cannons from the 18th century. And be sure to visit the nearby Church of Agios Georgious.

Agoniston Politechniou Kerkira 491 00, Greece

25 Old Fortress Inner Wall in Corfu, Greece

During the mid-16th century, the Venetians built two enormous bastions around the Old Fortress and also constructed two inner walls surrounding the island’s two pinnacles. As you climb up the steep and uneven steps leading to the otter wall on the north facing the Gulf of Kerkyra you imagine how difficult it must have been for the Turks to attack this citadel.

Agoniston Politechniou, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

26 Lion of St. Mark Relief at Old Fortress in Corfu, Greece

Most of the Old Fortress was reconstructed while Corfu was protected by the United Kingdom. However, there is still plenty of evidence of the occupation by the Most Serene Republic of Venice from 1386 until 1797. A classic example is this relief of the Winged Lion of St. Mark. This symbol of Saint Mark the Evangelist was emblazoned on their flag and coat of arms. It is still used by the region of Veneto and Venice, its capital city.

Agoniston Politechniou, Kerkira 491 00, Greece

27 Sailboats Docked at Mandraki Harbour in Corfu, Greece

These sailboats are docked in Mandraki Harbour at the private berths for a yacht and sailing club. This scenic port, which dates back to the 15th century, is located in the Gulf of Kerkyra at the northern base of the Old Fortress. The building on the small peninsula is the Ionian Cultural Center. To the left are the Faliraki Square and the magnificent Kapodistrias Mansion.

Agoniston Politechniou Kerkira 491 00, Greece