Corfu: An Iconic Destination
Ethereal in its beauty and a cradle of culture and knowledge, the Greek island of Corfu fiercely protects its traditions and customs – yet, it has always been open to other cultures, too.
Ever since the 8th century BC, the island of Corfu, which the Greeks named Kerkyra, has been revered throughout the ages not only for its strategic position in the Ionian Sea but for its phenomenal natural beauty. Known for its almost heartbreaking loveliness – think cypress covered hills, traditional villages and sandy coves embraced by cobalt-blue waters – has spurred many an army and international power to want to possess and rule it, from the Ottomans to the Venetians, the French and the British. Each left an indelible mark on the island.
A walk around elegant Corfu Town very much reveals Venetian and French architectural influences while, suffice to say, the islanders’ longstanding love for cricket is a very British affair indeed! Representing a beacon of learning in the early days of modern Greece, Corfu’s Ionian Academy, the first university of the modern Greek state, and the Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo di Corfù, Greece’s first opera house, are indicative of the islanders’ unwavering pride in their intellectual and artistic heritage, which extends to this day.
Corfu loves music, art and letters in their every expression, with islanders learning instruments, attending events and embracing culture.
Locals feel very strongly about music, too – and they have done so for centuries. From 1840 onwards, philharmonic orchestras started popping up on the island, with musicians eager to accompany religious ceremonies, festivals and events. Today, there are 18 functioning orchestras on Corfu, with four of them operating in the capital. You’re very likely to run into one of them spreading the spirit of Corfiot musical tradition out in the streets.
Anyone with an interest in culture, art and letters will find a wealth of activities and events to attend in this exciting city. Set to take place in late September, Corfu Literary Festival hosts a cricket match between English and Corfiot writers. Corfu is also the site of the Ionian University, whose highly acclaimed Faculty of History & Translation organizes an International Summer Academy for Intercultural Communication, with leading translators and interpreters sharing recent research and developments in their sector.
Today, there are 18 functioning orchestras on Corfu, with four of them operating in the capital.
After all, throughout its history, the island has attracted great thinkers and writers such as Goethe, Wilde, Gerald and Lawrence Durrell, and Henry Miller, who found ample inspiration for their work here. Also portrayed as an idyll in Greek mythology, Corfu is – after all – where the shipwrecked Odysseus was soothed and sent on his way home. This overriding feeling is evident even today, in every beautiful sight and vista that continues to take visitors’ breath away…