CORFU - ATTRACTIONS
The central square of Spianada is the most significant monument of the town. It is said that it is the largest square in the Balkans. Liston which is part of the square houses some of the finest cafes and restaurants in Corfu. The French were the ones who turned the Spianada into a public square. Before the nineteenth century it used to be a large empty lot used for defensive purposes. Cricket matches are played on the esplanade, the only place in Greece where the sport is played.
One of the most beautiful buildings boarding the square is the Liston building which stands at the western side of the Esplanade and was built during the French occupation. Its superb arched terrace was inspired by the architectural style of the Rue de Rivoli, in Paris, and houses the most elegant and luxurious cafes and restaurants of the island. It is arguably the most cosmopolitan spot in Corfu.
The Achillion Palace is ideally located in the picturesque village of Gastouri. This magnificent Palace was built in 1890 exclusively for Elizabeth (Sissy), the former Empress of Austria. The palace used to serve as the summer retreat of the Empress. The palace is located in a place of mesmerizing beauty with Corfu coast down below. The impeccably landscaped palace garden is absolutely top class and makes for a picture perfect setting. The palace is located at the spot where the manor of the renowned philosopher Petros Armenis Vrailas stood. The Palace garden is replete with statues of the pantheon of Greek Gods and Goddesses. Visitors to the palace can marvel at the exquisite mural positioned right at the reception enclosure which portrays Achilles carrying the dead body of Hector. The popularity of the Achillion Palace also comes from the fact that the famous James Bond movie `For Your Eyes Only` was shot at this magnificent palace.
Otherwise known as `Campiello,` this area is the fascinating maze of narrow streets, alleyways and steps that are squeezed into the north-eastern part of the town. Situated between the Old Fort and the Old Port, it is like a miniature Venice with much of its appeal being the residential atmosphere. In centuries gone by this area was surrounded by city walls, long since torn down, but the only way to expand the living quarters was to go upwards. Therefore it is full of high buildings and you can often see laundry strung across the alleyways. Set in the Plateia Kremasti is the 17th century Venetian Well, where you can find one of Corfu Town`s best restaurants. This is a lovely part of the town worth visiting.
The Old Fortress of Corfu is one of the most impressive fortification works in Europe. It is the first thing seen as the ferry approaches Corfu. It stands on the eastern side of the town, on a rocky peninsula. It was constructed by the Venetians in the 15th century on the site of a former Byzantine castle. The fortress was connected to the land by a movable, wooden bridge. In 1819, the British replaced this bridge with the present stable pathway, which is 200 feet long and stands 50 feet above the fosse, locally known as contafossa. The entrance to the fortress is available through Spianada. The entrance is arched and has a Venetian symbol above it, carved in marble. After the entrance, there are two rooms on both sides that now host the Byzantine Collection of Corfu and a gift shop. After the entrance, on the right, there is the small chapel of Madonna del Carmine, where the sentenced to death were transferred in chains. The huge building in front was constructed by the British in the 18th century to host the barracks, but now it houses the Public Library of Corfu, which hosts rare manuscripts and editions. Two stone stairs lead to a high spot, where there is a beautiful polygonal well of 1732. The highest point of the fortress needs about 20 minutes walking up to a tall clock tower. Historians believe that there used to be an ancient temple there. Also, some accounts of the Medieval times inform us that this peak, named Citadella, was inhabited and had some houses, churches, water cisterns and storehouses for gunpowder. In fact, in 1499, 1800 people were living in Citadella. The view from there is incredible.
The Fortress of Saint Mark in Corfu is also referred to as the Fortress of San Marco. It was built by the Venetians and is strategically located in close proximity to the Old Harbor of the town. It took a rather long time to be built (1576 and 1645). Construction of this impregnable fortress was completed soon after the infamous Turkish invasion. The fortress played a pivotal role in protecting the town of Corfu. The entire fortress is an intricate network of compartments and galleries. The ramparts of the Fortress was built by the French and afterwards by the British colonial rulers who completed the entire construction. The fortress has a dry moat that meanders along its western side which is typical of the 17th century architectural style. The moat begins where the vegetable market is presently located and culminates into the New Harbor. Of particular significance are the two winged lions of Saint Mark, which were the official emblem of Venice along with two distinct Venetian inscriptions. The two main gates of the fortress seem to have somehow withstood the ravages of time and are very well preserved. The first gate faces the Old Harbor's square while the other faces down south. Both the gates are replete with the official emblem of Venice, that is the winged lion of Saint. Mark. A section of the fortress was demolished by the then British colonial rulers as per the agreement of the 1864 that united Corfu with the rest of Greece.
The location of Kanoni with the church of Panagia Vlacherna below and the Mouse Island (Pontikonissi) are the most famous and photographed spots of Corfu. Kanoni is actually a quarter of Corfu Town, just a couple of miles from the city centre. It took its name from an old cannon that stands on top of the hill. This hill is lush green and has many luxurious hotels and local residences. Some steps down the hill from Kanoni is the small church of Panagia Vlacherna. A narrow 300 yard passage way connects the island with the church. Constructed in the 17th century, this lovely chapel has an impressive wooden-carved iconostasis and beautiful frescoes inside. The roof has red tiles and above the gate entrance there is a tall bell tower. Fishing boats depart frequently from the church and go to the legendary Mouse Island, just 5 minute boat ride. This lush green island took this name due to its tiny size. According to mythology, this rocky island is the ship of Ulysses that was stoned by god Poseidon. In the centre of the Mouse Island, there is the 13th century church of Pantokrator. This church celebrates on August 6th with a large religious panigiri for Corfu. On top of the hill in Kanoni, there are two cafeterias with amazing views to the church of Vlacherna, the sea and the Mouse Island. Another longer passage way connects the church of Vlacherna with the opposite location of Perama.
The church of Saint Spyridon was initially built in Sarocco square, 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. Its bell tower is the highest spot of the town and the first thing seen as the ferry approaches the island. The locals have deep faith in Saint Spyridon, who is considered the keeper of Corfu. Spyridon, or else Spyros, is very common name on the island and the local actually refer to their saint protector when they want to swear on their word of honor. Inside the church, which is located just behind Liston, there are the remains of the saint. According to the local customs, his remains are carried around the town of Corfu in a very peaceful litany four times a year to celebrate his miracles (Palm Sunday, Good Friday, August 11th, first Sunday of November). It is said that Saint Spyridon has saved the island four times from danger: in 1533 he saved the island from famine, in 1629 he released the islanders from plague, in 1716 he saved Corfu from the Ottoman attack and in 1673 he again saved the locals from plague.
On a green hill above the beach of Paleokastritsa, on the north western side of Corfu, there is a large Monastery complex dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary) of Paleokastritsa. This monastery dominates the whole region. Built on top of a remote hill, it offers gorgeous view of the island and the sea. This Byzantine Monastery dates back to 1228, however the current complex, the cells of the monks and the yard date from the 18th century. The monastery has a small ecclesiastical museum with rare Byzantine icons, holy books and other relics. Inside the monastery, there works a traditional olive oil press. The road to the monastery passes through a forest of olive trees and cypresses.
Aggelokastro, which is also referred to as Angel Castle, is believed to date back to the 13th century. The Aggelokastro is conspicuous by its domed gate at the entrance. It boasts of priceless vestiges and there are exclusive storage rooms as well. Another interesting remnant is an ancient church dedicated to the angels Gabriel and Michael which is surprisingly constructed in a cave. Legend has it that an ancient emperor was on the lookout of a precipitous rock in which to build a fortress so that it could easily thwart most pirate attacks. With this in mind, the emperor stumbled upon the neighborhood of Aggelokastro where he came across the towering fortress that was reportedly built by the then Archbishop of Epirus. The major threat emanated from pirates from Africa and that of the Venetians. According to historical records, the Angelokastro was the capital of the island of Corfu and the Governor himself resided here.
Location: Agios Ioannis Afra
It is said to be the most amazing water park in Europe. It offers numerous water games, such as the Multislide, the Black Hole, the Crazy River, the Lazy River, the Free Fall, the Kamikazes, the Deep Blue Kayak, the Family Rafting and lots of others. There are numerous pools that count on 7 different kinds of waves. All along the area, there are sun beds, umbrellas, changing rooms, safety lockers, bars, snack kiosks, a restaurant, a boutique, a mini-market, a fast photo-print shop and a picnic area. 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. Aqualand of Corfu is open from May to October and is the ideal place to spend a fun day in the sun. There is an available bus service from Corfu Town to this park and the trip takes just 20 minutes.