Activities/Corfu
CORFU – A BRIEF GUIDE
Corfu is the most northern of Greece’s seven Ionian Islands and has always been considered a vital bridging point between the exotic East and the wealthy realms and kingdoms of Western Europe. Offering safe harbours to shelter from the wild Adriatic Sea, Corfu combines rare natural beauty with a cultural richness that results from her varied, though often tumultuous, history. The most culturally significant of the many nations to have ruled Corfu was the maritime trading republic of Venice, which annexed the island in 1386 and subsequently controlled it for more than 400 years. Today, fascinating residues of the Most Serene Republic can be found everywhere; including in the island’s architecture, food and local dialect ‘Kerkeraiko’. The most dazzling links with the Corfu’s Venetian past can be found in the architecture of the island’s capital Corfu Town, situated just a stone’s throw from Villa 1870. Wandering the streets and alleyways of the town’s spectacular UNESCO listed historical centre and dipping into its excellent museums or galleries is a perfect way to absorb the culture of the island, whilst amongst the many excellent cafes, bars and restaurants there are always options for nourishment. In the summer months visitors can cool off by taking a dip in the crystal clear waters in front of the town’s historic New Fort – a unique experience. Corfu Town is the cultural and economic focal point of the island and due to its healthy permanent population and easy accessibility from the Greek mainland it remains an attractive destination all year round. Unlike on most other Greek islands, many of the shops, restaurants and attractions of Corfu Town stay open through the winter, giving it energy and vibrancy in all four seasons. Beyond the Town, Corfu offers a spectacular array of choices for a discerning visitor. In the summer there are any number of perfect beaches to choose from, and the sea-side tavernas serve up the best of the day’s freshly caught sea-food. At all times of year the mountains provide diversion for those looking to get away from the coast, and offer magnificent views and traditional, rustic food. Corfu’s size and historic importance leads to a breadth of offerings unrivalled on most other Greek islands, and truly makes the island a great destination for all seasons. The Villa 1870 team includes local experts who would be delighted to offer personalised recommendations to the Villa’s guests, to ensure that the island is enjoyed to the fullest of its great potential.
SIGHTSEEING
Visitors of Corfu have many interesting choices for sightseeing. Five of the most known spots of the island are:
The Old Town
The Old Town of Corfu city is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old city's architectural character is strongly influenced by the Venetian style, coming as it did under Venetian rule for a long period; its small and ancient side streets, and the old buildings' trademark arches are particularly reminiscent of Venice. Of the thirty-seven Greek churches, the most important are the city's cathedral, the church dedicated to Our Lady of the Cave, Saint Spyridon church, wherein lies the preserved body of the patron saint of the island; and finally the suburban church of St Jason and St Sosipater, reputedly the oldest in the island, and named after the two saints probably the first to preach Christianity to the Corfiots.
Italianate architecture
Corfu city is famous for its Italianate architecture, most notably the Liston, an arched colonnade lined with cafes on the edge of the Spianada (Esplanade), the vast main plaza and park which incorporates a cricket field and several pavilions. Also notable are the Venetian-Roman style City Hall, the Old and New castles, the recently restored Palace of Sts. Michael and George, formerly the residence of the British governor and the seat of the Ionian Senate, and the summer Palace of Mon Repos, formerly the property of the Greek royal family and birthplace of the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
ACTIVITIES
- Swimming in the beautiful beaches of Corfu
- Walking around “Kantounia”, the wonderful narrow streets of the city of Corfu
- Horse Riding
- Aqualand
- Water Sports (water-skiing, Canoeing, Sailing)
- The Corfu Tennis Club is just 200m away, 20min walk to the Corfu Golf Club
The Achilleion
In 1889, Empress Elizabeth of Austria built a summer palace in the region of Gastouri to the south of the city, naming it Achilleion (pronounced: Achílleion) after the Homeric hero Achilles. The structure is filled with paintings and statues of Achilles, both in the main hall and in the gardens, depicting scenes of the Trojan War. The palace, with the neoclassical Greek statues that surround it, is a monument to platonic romanticism as well as escapism. The centrepiece of the gardens is a marble statue on a high pedestal, of the mortally wounded Achilles without hubris and wearing only a simple cloth and an ancient Greek hoplite helmet. This statue was carved by German sculptor Ernst Gustav Herter.
Mon Repos
Mon Repos is a villa on the south of Corfu City in the forest of Palaiopolis. It was built as a summer residence for the British Lord High Commissioner of the United States of the Ionian Islands, Frederick Adam, and his second wife Diamantina 'Nina' Palatino, in 1828–1831, although they had to vacate the villa soon afterwards in 1832 when Adam was sent to serve in India. In 1833, it housed a school of fine arts, while in 1834, the park was opened to the public. The villa and its gardens are the property of the Corfu municipality, and are now being used as an archaeological museum.
Pontikonisi
The nearby island, known as Pontikonisi (Greek meaning "mouse island"), though small is very green with abundant trees, and at its highest natural elevation (excluding its trees or man-made structures, such as the monastery), stands at about 2 m (6 ft 6.74 in). Pontikonisi is home of the monastery of Pantokrator. The white stone staircase of the monastery, viewed from afar, gives the impression of a (mouse) tail, which lent the island its name.