|Corfu town sights|
Since 2007 the old town of Corfu has been inscribed in the Wordl Heritage List of the UNESCO. According to UNESCO, Corfu is a fortified Mediterranean port and it's urban and port ensemble is notable for its high level of integrity and authenticity.
The market of the city was built north of the current bay of Garitsa. The acropolis was built on the current position of Analipsi. The only existing tower of the wall was situated at the entrance of the port of Alkinoos, while today it is the foundation of the church of Agios Athanasios. Not far from the cemetery, one can see the tower of Neratziha where the church of Virgin Mary stood and also preserved the statue. This is also the area of the ancient aqueduct. In the area of Garitsa, archaeologists have discovered traces of tombs of the Archaic and Classical eras, which were part of the town's ancient cemetery.
Among them, the most significant is the statue of
Menekratis. The town's fleet sought refuge in the well-protected port
of the bay of Chelaios. The bay's entrance was formed by the two islets
of the church of Vlaherna, along with green Pontikonissi which is
opposite. The town was characterized by scattered temples of all sizes,
built by the first inhabitants from Corinth and Evoia. The largest and
most significant temples, built in the 7th and 6th century BC, are the
Temple of Hera, Diana and Kardaki -built in honour of Apollo- and the
Temple of Dionysus. Relics and findings from these temples are
exhibited in the local Archaeological Museum.
The oldest Greek pediment, still in existence, represents the winged Gorgo surrounded by snakes, her two children Pegasus and Chrysaor (according to myth, they were born from her blood after her decapitation by Perseus) and two lion-panthers, while on the sides one can see representations of the Battles of the Titans. According to archaeologists, the pediment had vivid colours, while Gorgo was connected with Diana, the goddess who protected the animals and the beasts.
Another exhibit is part of the left archaic pediment found during the excavation in the location of Figaretto (500 BC), which represents a scene of a bacchic symposium. One can also admire the findings of the Neo-Lithic Era, from Sidari, which include pots, utensils and the representations of the lionhead from the Temple of Hera (7th century BC). Other interesting exhibits are the archaic lion (7th century BC), discovered near the statue of Menekratis, as well as a livid sink from Attica (6th century BC).
Among others, there are remarkable findings from the
tombs of Garitsa (7th - 6th century BC), the Temple of Roses (5th
century BC), the Temple of Diana at Kanoni (480 BC), Mon Repo, the
Temple of Apollo, statuettes of typical ancient craftwork, objects made
of copper and ivory, a tombstone praising the ancient hero Arnias, the
capital of the column of Xembaros (6th century BC), as well as coins,
the most significant being the one depicting a cow, released after the
liberation of Corfu from the Corinthians.
The painter Spyros Prosalentis made the icons on the temple of the church. The most valuable treasure of the church is the golden shrine made in Venice in which Saint Spyridonas's remains are kept. At first these remains were kept in Constantinople, but after its fall, they were transferred to the island of Corfu. The wonderful icons on the dome have golden frames, they are divided into 17 pieces, and they represent, among other things, the life of Saint Spyridonas.
The icons were first made by the hagiographer
Panagiotis Doxaras in 1727, but because of their decay from moisture,
they were replaced by Nikolaos Aspiotis's copies in 1850-1870. On
December 12th, there is a feast in honour of the saint. The litanies of
Agios Spyridonas are also famous, as they have been performed here
since the Venetian years, and they are connected with the history of
Among the exhibits there are chinese works of all
chines eras: The Sheang era (1,500-1,027 BC) the Chehou era (1,027-221
BC), the Han era (221 BC-220 AD), the Soung dynasty (960-1,279 AD), the
Ming dynasty (1,368-1,644 AD) and from Kamakoura era (1,192-1,338 AD).
The most significant exhibits are the infamous copper cauldron used for
worshipping reasons, from the Ming dynasty, tombs statues from the Tang
dynasty, a wooden japanese statues from japanese statue of a temple's
guard and facades from the japanese theater Noh.
The two fortress, the Old and the New, were linked by an underground arcade and a rampart wall which surrounded the area of the contemporary city. The New Fortress had access to its ramparts through corridors, tunnels and underground arcades. Today there are only two gates left standing with the emblem of St Markos's lion. The new fortress's fortification played a significant defensive role, even in recent wars, as its arcades were used as refuge for the people. The fortress is famous for its architecture.
The construction of the building began with the Venetians, after the Turkish siege in 1537, and was completed in 1588. It had four gates and two peaks (Korifes), thus the island was named Corfu. The first peak (51 m. high) was built by the Byzantines and was called "Castell del Mar", alias "Castell Vecchio", while the second peak (65 m. high) was built by the Venetians and was called "Castell di Terra", alias "Castell Nuovo".
The Venetians extended the city beyond the fortress, while in the interior they built arches, prisons, storage rooms and new buildings for the soldiers, the nobles and the politicians. The new town called for a new fortification and a new fortress. The underground arches of the fortress prove the theory that it was linked underground to the opposite islet of Ptihia (alias Vido). Today, one can still see the ruins of the Venetian walls, the additional fortifications built by the English, the clock-tower, the Doric buildings and the church of Agios Georgios, built in 1840, during the English occupation.
Today the palaces house the Public Library, the
Archaeological Service and the Museum of Asian Art which was donated by
the Manou family. Inside the building, the chambers are decorated with
carved mythological representations of the Ionian island, created by
Prosalentis. There are also lavish chandeliers, and the windows exhibit
the medals that St Michael and St George won. In the beautifully
decorated gardens, the statue of the English high commissioner F. Adam
is a dominating figure.
In 1720, one of the most significant Greek theaters was housed here called "San Jiacomo" because of the neighboring catholic church of the same name built in 1632. Ever since 1903 AD, the building has been used as a Town Hall where the town's new theater is also housed.
In a little square on Nickiforou Theotoki Street stands the building of the Ionian Bank, which was built in 1864 and displays a well-proportionated facade with finely detailed Ionian pilasters and pediment. On the firts floor of the building, the Paper Money Museum is housed.
Capodistrias is a historical building, an excellent example of neo-classical architecture. It was built in 1835 by the Corfiot architect John Chronis and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Greece. It was here that Ioannis Capodistrias, the first Governor of Greece, was born.
Fabulous Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons are displayed in an attractive church. Church of Antivouniotissa, just off Arseniou Street. Open 8.30-15.00. Closed Mondays. Sundays open 9.30-14.30.
A collection of the memorabilia and archives of the Greek National poet, Dionysius Solomos. 3rd Parados, Arseniou Street, Corfu Town Open 09.30-13.00 weekdays.
Exhibiting Corfu Artists of the 19th Century and other works, including paitings by 20th century local artists. Palace of Saints Michael and George, East Wing. Open 09.00-21.00 .
Lovely garden containing graves from the British Protectorate to the present. Intersting plants and trees. Kolokotroni Street. Open all day.
Photographs and militaria commemorating the Balkan War of 1915-17. Moustoxidi Street. Open on request only.
Fine collection of old books, documents and prints, mostly relating to the Ionian Islands. 120, Kapodistrias Street. Open weekdays 10.00-13.00.