Island sights

PELEKAS

Visit Pelekas village for the stunning sunsets and for a 360° view over the island. Located on the top of a 270 metres high hill here you will also find the ruins of the famous Kaiser throne. In the past this was the observatory where Willhelm II used to come to relax…A the cafe nearby you can enjoy one the most picturesque sunsets of the west coast, so be sure you have lots of free memory space in your camera!

ACHILLION PALACE
Achillion was built from 1888 to 1891 by the Italian architect Kardilo on behalf of Elisabeth, Empress of Austria. It is situated near the village of Gastouri, where, in former times the mansion of the philosopher Petros Armenis Vrailas stood. The construction was built in the architectural style of Pompeii, although it includes elements of the Ionic, Roman and Aeolic traditions. The castle was called “Achillion” in honour of Achilles, whom the Empress admired. After her death in 1898, Achillion was not inhabited for nine years, until its purchase by the Emperor of Germany Vilhelm II, in 1907.

The Kaiser made several alterations inside and outside the palace. He removed the two statues of Achilles, built a building, which he named the House of the Knights, in order to house his battalion, and he rearranged the gardens. During the World Wars, the palace was used as a hospital and headquarters. After World War II, Achillion became a public estate. Inside the palace, one can admire beautiful paintings by Italian and Austrian painters, the most impressive being the paintings of Aggelos Gialinas, a painter from Corfu.

The most remarkable mural is the fresco of the reception chamber showing Achilles dragging the dead body of Hector in front of the Trojan walls. In the chambers, one can admire the personal belongings of Elisabeth and Vilhelm B’, furniture, jewels etc. There are also exhibits of statues representing heroes from ancient Greek history and mythology, as well as portraits and pots. The decoration of the Catholic chapel housed in the palace is also of striking beauty.

Scattered between the beautifully decorated gardens and the fountains stand the beautiful statues of the Nine Muses and ancient Greek philosophers, as well as, a large statue of Achilles, created in 1909 by the German sculptor Goetz, ordered by Vilhelm B’. The most impressive of all is the statue of “Achilles dying” created by the German sculptor Earnest Gustav Herter. Another building in Achillion was used to house the carriage drivers, the carriages and the horses.

 

 

AGGELOKASTRO – KRINI

 

 

The byzantine fortress known as Aggelokastro (Castle of Angels) is situated near the Krini, opposite Palaiokastritsa, at an altitude of 330 m. It was built in the 13th century by Michael Angelo B’ the son of Epirus’s archbishop Michael Angelo ?’. Tradition says that the founder was looking for the most dangerous and the steepest rock to build upon it an impregnable fortress.

Thus, he came across the area of Aggelokastro where there stood a fortress, courtesy of the archbishop of Epirus. The forts’ purpose was to protect the inhabitants from the pirates of Africa and the Venetians. For a while it served as the island’s capital as the governor lived there. In 1403, from the castle, they fought successfully against the pirates of Genoa.

The castle’s entrance is an arched gate, but inside there are only ruins of the chambers and the storage rooms. In a dark cave, there is a church dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel where one can admire a remarkable fresco of the Virgin Mary.

 

 

GARDIKI FORTRESS

This byzantine fortress stands on a hill between Agios Mathaios and Messogi. It is said to have been built by Michael Angelo B’. The only reminder of the castle are ruins dating back to the 13th century. The fortress consists of eight strong towers creating its octagonal shape. The excavations in the surrounding area shed light upon the tolls used in the Paleolithic Era.

 

 

KANONI

 

World famous Kanoni is situated south of the Palaiopoli peninsula. It was named Kanoni (cannon) after the battery of artillery established by French in 1798. One of the battery’s cannons still stands at the tourist kiosk. In front of Kanoni is the Monastery of Vlaherna, linked to the mainland by a cement dock and built in the 17th century. From there one can visit Pontikonissi.

According to the legend, this was the ship of Phaiakes which, after taking Ulysses to Ithaki, was petrified. Another legend claims that this is the rock where Ulysses crashed because of the storm. On the island of Pontikonissi stands the byzantine chapel of Pandokrator. The spectacular view from Kanoni inspired the German painter Becklin to draw “The Island of the Dead”. This location is the most charming part of the island and it has always been the place where all the island’s inhabitants love to promenade.

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