Tracing the Unique Charm of Corfu Town
M ore closely resembling the small capital of an entire country than that of an island, Corfu Town never fails to seduce all who visit it.
Imbued with grace and elegance, historic Corfu Town (also known as Kerkyra) is found in the middle of the island’s east coast. The name Corfu [“peaks”] refers to its twin hills, each topped by a massive fortress built to withstand the Ottoman sieges of the 16th century. Built on a promontory, the town has a unique architecture that reflects the various influences – Venetian, French and English – that have left their mark on the island. This blend of different styles has lent Corfu Town a unique charm and character. Palaces, fortresses, austere public buildings from the Venetian rule combine with lines of drying washing that hang above tiny alleyways and small secluded squares. Indeed, a walk through the maze of narrow cobbled streets known as “kantounia” will make you feel as if you’ve traveled to Genoa or Naples. There are also numerous stately attractions, such as the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, Liston Arcade, the Reading Society, the Catholic Cathedral, the Ionian Parliament and the Kapodistrias family mansion, as well as arcades, parks, fortifications and monuments – all lending Corfu a certain kind of grandeur more reminiscent of the confident air of the capital of a country rather than that of an island. But one thing is for sure – whether ambling down alleyways in search of hidden architectural gems or drinking an aperitif in one of the town’s stylish cafes or hotels, Corfu Town can’t help but make you feel like you’ve traveled in time.
Corfu Town oozes charm, history, fascinating landmarks and interesting details around every corner
10 + 1 REASONS TO DISCOVER CHIC CORFU TOWN
SPIANADA SQUARE (ESPLANADE): It became a public square during the French rule and was designed according to the French garden architecture movement. The largest square in the Balkans and one of Corfu Town’s most significant monuments, Spianada Square is its main social center, where festivals and parades take place throughout the year. A small part of the Esplanade still hosts the old English cricket field.
IONIAN ACADEMY: Towering on the southern side of Spianada Square, the Ionian Academy was founded during the British occupation in 1824 by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first Governor of the First Hellenic Republic.
LISTON ARCADE: Built during the French occupation, this superb arched terrace was inspired by the architectural style of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, and houses some of the island’s most elegant cafes and restaurants.
THE TOWN HALL: In Venetian times, the building was a meeting place for the island’s nobles. Today, it houses the Municipality of Corfu.
IONIAN PARLIAMENT: This neoclassical monument was built in 1854. In May 1864, the Ionian Parliament voted for the unification of the Ionian Islands with Greece. Various inscriptions commemorating this vote surround the main entrance of the building.
PALACE OF SAINT MICHAEL AND SAINT GEORGE: Erected during the British occupation in 1824 and situated in the center of Spianada Square, this impressive neoclassical building was first used as the commissioner’s official residence. Today, it houses the interesting Museum of Asian Art.
SQUARE OF THE SAINT: Undoubtedly three of Corfu’s most important religious buildings, the churches of St. Spyridon, the church of the Blessed Virgin of the Strangers, and the church of St John are all located around this square.
THE KAPODISTRIAS FAMILY MANSION: Built in 1840, the mansion of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of the Modern Greek State, was built on the location of the family’s former mansion.
FORTIFICATIONS: There is an impressive 15th century Old Fortress, as well as the New Fortress, both Venetian (although the latter houses British buildings too).
CORFU TOWN BY NIGHT: When it comes to drinking, dining and dancing, this is the hottest, chicest spot in the Ionian Islands.
MUSEUMS: Solomos Museum, Byzantine Museum, Museum of Asian Art, Numismatic Museum and the Reading Society of Corfu.