Don't think the weather always has to be great in Greece to enjoy a day out- the day that we went to Paleokastritsa it was pouring with rain, but we still loved the place and even went for a long swim in the crystal clear waters. One of the highlights of the visit wasn't the beach though, but the beautiful monastery perched above the interlocking coves. The ascent is well worth the effort- on the way up take your time to admire the greenery. We travelled in May and the trees and plant life with their little pink and purple flowers were stunning. On arrival, expect a few others to be there, because unfortunately the monastery is already a little 'discovered' by tourists, but to a damaging effect. Once you've explored the pretty buildings, painted in delicate pastel shades, and maybe even met some of the resident monks, stroll through the gardens full of flora, and take in the fabulous views down to the rocky arches and stacks in the wild coves below, slightly reminiscent of the southern Italian coast with the stunning calm turquoise waters and tumbling bright flowers. Back down at sea level explore some of the beautiful little coves if you have the time; there are so many you may even have one to yourself, especially if it's raining!
The Old Fortress is definitely one of Corfu’s landmarks. It was first built by the corcyrans that were living in the byzantine fortress that used to be in Kanoni and destroyed by goth races. The new city was built with materials from that fortress and the Venetians extended the fortifications and dug a moat.
There is a 4euro entrance fee to go up but you can wonder around the lower rampants for free in case you come late (the doors to the top are open till 14.30 during winter, till 19.00 during summer).
After the entrance to the Old Fortress, there is a sign that informs you that on you right are: the Acropolis/Lighthouse, the venetian prison, the St George’s church, the british army cookhouse and the café.
On your left are: the Music Department of the University and the Sailing Club.
Right in front are: The Archives of Corfu and the Public Library.
First we noticed a 4 pdr cannon from 1788 that was used from the French Army during King Louis XVI era. It’s 565 kg with a 84mm bore. For some strange reason I thought it was turned against the opposite wall of the fortress!
We wondered around the buildings for a while (most of them were built by the british army), we took some pics over the walls and visited the church of St George (see next tip) before we go up to the top. The climb is difficult on a hot day but the views are great and don’t forget that there is a café in the fortress where you can refresh your self with a cold beverage.
The entrance fee for the top of the fortress is 4 euros(april 2010)
Reading Society and library history in Corfu
First I noticed the nice building which next to the Royal Palace and then I noticed what it is. It’s the Reading Society of Corfu(Anagnostiki Eteria in greek), probably one of the oldest cultural centers in Greece as it was founded in 1836, 6 years only after the liberation from the Turkish occupation and the official recognition under the London Protocol in 1830.
The Reading Society had famous members like Kapodistrias, D.Theotokis, Dionisios Solomos, Kalvos etc. The people that established the Society were graduates from French universities that were expelled from Italy. The Reading Society wanted to bring its members in touch with cultural, spiritual and political movement in western Europe and that’s why they started to take from France, England and Italy magazines, newspapers and books. They were supporting the greek language as the main language in the United States of Ionian Islands and they forced for the union with the mainland of Greece.
It is famous for its large collection of books, newspapers, documents and old maps and photographs, mainly about the Ionian Islands but not only. A lot of exhibitions take place there but also some small concerts. It is open daily 9.00-14.00 (closed on Sundays)
It would be pity not to mention the Public Library Of Corfu too. It is housed inside the Old Fortress and it’s the oldest public library in Greece. It was back in 1758 when Francisco Saverio Canal donated his huge book collection that he had at the church Santa Gustina in Garitsa area. There were libraries in Corfu since the end of 17th century, many of them in churches or monasteries (Paleokastritsa, Zoodohos Pigi, Panagia Tenedos etc). When the French abolished the monasteries, the public library operated first at Panagia Tenedos in 1798 with more than 4000 books! Unfortunatelly, some months later Gaetano Rusconi from Padova destroyed or sold many books (that were dangerous for the revolution!) and there were only 1600 books left. Later the library connected with the Ionian Academy and with the help of Guilford it had more than 25000 books. At the same era new libraries were founded in Corfu. The public library had 75000 books when on September 13, 1943 was cremated by the Nazis. In our days it’s housed in the Old Fortress but I couldn’t visit it due to bad timing :(