Corfu is the northernmost island in the Ionian group of islands, and is one of the most popular among the Greece islands in general. This second largest Ionian island lies at the entrance to the Adriatic Sea. This is a mountainous island with long, golden sandy beaches, dense vegetation and impressive landscapes. Its many traditional villages, Byzantine churches, museums, fortresses, flowered squares, mansions and resorts attract thousands of visitors every year.
This is one of the first islands that opened itself to tourism. It has a unique climate with a mild weather and lot of rainfalls in winter.
The summer is warm, but the temperature on the hottest days never exceeds 39 degrees centigrade.
A Little Bit of History
The City of Corfu
Corfu, or Kerkyra as Greeks call it, has an interesting history, according to Greek Mythology; the island was named after the Assopos River’s daughter, the Nymph Korkira.
She was kidnapped by Poseidon, god of the sea, who took her to this beautiful island, and the unfortunate Nymph’s name stuck since then. Hence we know the island as Corfu. 🙂
The island has been occupied since the Paleolithic Era and the first Greek settlers were Eretreans. The island was ruled by the Macedonians, Spartans, Illyrians and then by Romans. It was also ruled by the Normans and the Venetians for a short period.
In 1267, the King of Sicily, Charles of Angou, conquered the island and tried his best to replace the locally accepted and practiced Orthodox religion with the Catholic one, but his attempts failed and Corfu was again subsequently conquered by Venetians in 1386.
In 1797, Napoleon conquered Venice with his French Army and according to the Kamboformio treaty, Corfu island got included into the French State. The French were defeated by the English and the Russians in 1799, but the French came back in 1807.
This prosperous period saw the creation of the Ionian Academy, schools were built, public services reorganized, and there were many agricultural improvements.
Achilleion palace, Corfu Island
The English came back in 1815 and occupied Corfu. The English built many new roads, organized the town’s water supply and improved the education system.
In 1824, the island got its first Greek University. The Ionian Islands finally came under the Greek State in 1864.
Corfu was built on a promontory and its architecture has the influence of all the civilizations that once occupied the island such as the Venetians, the French and the English.
Corfu town is separated into northern and southern sections and the old town is located in the northern section between the Esplanade and the new fortress.
The Esplanade is the central square of the town and it was turned into a public square during the French occupancy.
The Esplanade was designed following the French garden architectural style with many trees and flowers.
A typical beach in Corfu Island
Every summer, a competition cricket match, a heritage from the English occupation, is held in this square and this is the only place in Greece where this sport is practiced.
Cultural events, Feast of Virgin Mary, Anniversary of the Union, Feast of Agios Spyridon, the Varkarola, the Kricket Festival, Festival of Kato Garouna and Ano Gerakiana, and the Festival of Corfu are some of the famous festivals celebrated here.
Corfu is a very lively island that offers a great variety of bars and night clubs.
All nightlife is located in the beach resorts of Corfu. The main shopping hub is situated in the town’s center where you can buy jewelry, ceramics, leather goods, and handmade lace and needle work.
Where is Corfu?
- 310 miles/ 499 km from Athens, Greece
- 320.6 miles/ 516 km from Skopje, Macedonia
- 182.6 miles/ 294 km from Patras, Greece
- 323.1 miles/ 520 km from Athens International Airport, Greece
- 310 miles/ 499 km from Skopje Airport, Macedonia
What to See
Beside the old and new Venetian fortresses, the Town Hall square, the square of the saints, the Ionian Academy, the Palace of Saint Michael and Georges, the city has many points of interest that would be a real shame to miss:
- Mt Pantokrator
- Achilleion Palace
- The Kanoni area with the ruins of the Ancient city
- Churches and Monasteries
- Aqualand Corfu
- Horse riding, windsurfing, cycling and diving are some of the other recreations in Corfu.
- Agios Georgios
- Agios Gordis
- Agios Stefanos
- Arrilas Arrilas
- Corfu Town
- Aggelokastro, the Byzantine Fortress
Corfu is known as the “Emerald Island” due to its lush greenery and breathtaking beauty.
It is a hidden treasure of the Mediterranean and has been an inspiration to many artists and literary figures.
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!