A great island to be ... !
When we planned our trip for the spring of 2003, we had a few things to consider! Iris Our little daughter Iris was almost 2 years old. Of course we wanted a place to visit for our own enjoyement, but needed something for Iris as well, so what to do?
We took in mind that we didn't want it to be too hot in May and June and we wanted lot's of cultural places to visit. Besides that a few days at the beach just for Iris (and ourselves) and some leasure at the apartment as well.
We ended up in Corfu and as you will continue reading this Corfu page, you will see that we were definately not sorry for it.
Corfu is a great island! We have travelled a lot all over the world. Corfu is definately one of the favorite destinations. Although we must admid that 17 days at this island was more than enough!
We went on a bus tour organized by our travel agent, and one of the stops was at Taverna Castellino. This place is amazing as it offers stunning views over the western coast of Corfu. I had a frappe and baklava - ok, but it's all about the view really!
Kipos tou Laou park
Right next to the Michael’s & George’s palace is a small park. It’s called Kipos Tou Laou(People’s garden) but of course it was just the garden of the Palace in the past :)
I visited it because I wanted to see the permanent collection of the Municipal Gallery. But the park itself is interesting, with statues and flowers and a nice view at the end. I checked the statues, most of them are local people, writers etc There’s also a modern sculpture with a sign that reads: In everlasting memory of the Corfiots who during the WWII fought and died for the freedom of their country, don’t cry for them, honour them. The second sign reads:You, youth, who are looking at this monument, act in your life so that wars do not sow sorrow ever again. I went away confused by the message but also because of the strange sculpture :)
You can sit at the Art Café and relax under the trees’ shade (the heat is really painful during the day in summer months so make small stops). Pics 4-5 show the view from the park
Wonderful Corfu Island.
Situated in a commanding position at the mouth of the Adriatic Sea, at the most westerly point of Greece, and at the crossroads of East and West, Corfu has a past that has always been turbulent, a result of constant claims on it by enemy factions.
For Corfu, Greek civilization began in the 8th century BC, when it became first an Ebon (Retrain) settlement and then a Corinthian colony. At this time the town was located to the south of its present site, on the Canon peninsula.
It soon gained independence from the mother city-state and was able, both by its economic and naval strengths, to dominate the Ionian and Adriatic seas, while at the same time, mainly during the 6th and 5th centuries BC, it was developing important artistic traditions. By the end of the 5th century, Corfu was weakened by internal strife, turned into the "apple of discord" between the Greek city-states, and later became part of a Roman province.
From the 4th century AD onwards, it was part of the Byzantine Empire, and it was during the 6th century that the ancient town was abandoned after repeated barbarian raids. The new town was founded to the north of the old one, on a twin-peaked peninsula where today the Old Fortress stands. Always a target of enemy attacks, the fortified "Town of Peaks" (Coryfo), as it was called during Byzantine times, survived constant sieges.
In 1207 the victorious Knights of the Fourth Crusade ceded Corfu to the Venetians. Subsequently, the Despot of Epirus in 1217 and the Anjou Dynasty in 1267 took the island.
After more than a hundred years of Angevin domination, in 1386 Corfu fell for the second time under Venetian sovereignty which lasted for 400 years of stability. The importance of Corfu's position to the Venetians as well as repeated enemy threats, led to the fortification of the town, a major undertaking, which started in the 15th century and continued until the 18th century, when Venetian rule ended. The fortifications, initially the Old Fort and later the walls that enclosed the town and the New Fortress, were strong enough to withstand Turkish raids in 1537, 1571, 1573 and 1716, thus foiling the Turksï¿½ attempts to overrun Europe.
Corfu was the bastion of the Venetian Republic, but in 1797 Napoleon brought Corfu under the rule of the French. After Napoleon's surrender, the island came under Russian-Turkish rule and was recognized as the capital of the independent Septinsular State. A second period of French domination followed (1807-1814), and in 1815 Corfu became the capital of the state of the Ionian Islands, under the protection of the British.
During the 19th century the artistic and cultural tradition continued. At this time many Greek scholars were fleeing their Turkish-dominated homelands. Finding a haven in Corfu, they turned it into the most important cultural center in Greece.
The first Greek University was established at the Ionian Academy (1824-1868) and quickly started to produce the first great scientists of the New Greek State. After 50 years under British protection, in 1864 Corfu was finally united with the motherland, which had been freed from the Turks in 1827.
The great Greek poet Dionyssios Solomos, who spent the second part of his life on Corfu, left his mark on the intellectual life of the island. Part of his poem "Hymn of Liberty" was set to music by Corfiot composer Nikolaos Mantzaros and subsequently became the Greek National Anthem.
Corfu has the ability to incorporate each new element without significantly altering its cultural physiognomy. In Corfu one can meet – even today – intact elements of the ancient Greek civilization. Like placenames, customs, vices etc.
The events and ceremonies that take place in villages on the Tyrofagos Sunday and Shrove Monday are remnants of the ancient Greek cult worshipping Dionyssos and coexist with the Corfiot Carnival, rooted in the Italia Comedia del’Arte.
Corfu’s musical tradition also constitutes a dynamic composition of ancient Greek and Byzantine elements combined with others introduced mainly by Venetians and the British. Serenades and barcaroles coexist with folk songs, the roots of which go as deep as antiquity and the quadraphonia of religious hymns. However, the really impressive part for visitors to Corfu is how much everyday people love music. They should not be surprised if, when in a remote village, they hear sounds of classical or choral music emanating from a window. This explains the fact that in Corfu there are a Department of Music Studies at the Ionian University, a Musical Gymnasium and Lyceum, 16 Philharmonic bands, 6 Conservatories, Choirs and traditional music ensembles, constituting a hotbed for talented musicians.
We should not forget by any means that the cultural tradition of Corfu is engraved by the presence of Orthodoxy. The customs of the Holly Week and the processions of the relic of St. Spyridon attract large numbers of Christians, while the organ-accompanying Liturgy is a breakthrough for the orthodox ritual.
Modern Corfu maintains its Mediterranean character. Its economy is based on two complementary activities: tourism and olive- trees, assisted by an ever- developing network of financial transactions support services. Corfu, without being deprived of the fundamental elements of its natural and built environment, has long entered the world of on-line communications, digital technology, the Internet and mobile telephony.
With the scheduled completion of its remaining infrastructure projects, having an increased sensitivity towards environmental protection-oriented issues, is preparing to face the challenges of the 21st century. As pertains to tourism, it offers clean beaches that are accessible to everyone and a countryside that maintains intact ecosystems with a rare fauna and flora.
The aim of Corfu is to further develop specialized forms of tourism, emphasizing on conference – and religious tourism. The Ionian University, scientific associations, professional organizations and local government constitute significant factors of development for conference tourism, while the – still unknown to the great public- places of worship for Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism attract more visitors every year, from all around the globe. Finally, Corfu makes the best possible usage of its geographical location.
So, in 1994, it hosted the European Union Summit Meeting, while – from time to time – international and inter-regional political meetings are being organized.
Saint Spiridon : The Patron Saint of the Corfiots
Saint Spiridon was born in Tremithous in Cyprus in 270 AD. Son of a poor family, he had no education and earned his living as a shepherd. After the death of his beloved wife, he dedicated himself to the church and eventually rose to be Bishop of Tremithous. During the Maximinian persecutions he was arrested and exiled. He lived and died in Cyprus, working miracles for all his life.
When the Saracens took the island, the Cypriots opened his grave in order to move his sacred bones to Constantinople. They found his body remaining intact, while from the grave a scent of basil emanated, true signs of the sainthood he had shown during his life. When Constantinople fell in 1453, a Corfiot elder brought him to Corfu, and his holy remains were passed as heirloom to succeeding generations of his extended family, until finally they were transferred to the Saint’s present private church.