Flashback Friday: Island Hopping in Greece: Corfu

The Greek Ionian Island of Corfu is beautiful with its green hills, stunning architecture, and idyllic beaches. The Ionian island group is along the west coast of Greece, stretching south from the Albanian coast down to the tip of the Peloponnese. Unlike much of the rest of Greece, Corfu was never occupied by the Ottomans but was dominated by the Venetians, French, Russians and the British, who all left their mark.

This was the last stop in our island-hopping adventure in Greece. We had another early flight and arrived at our apartment at Folies Corfu before noon. Our room wasn't ready yet, so we wandered to the pool area to grab something to eat and to get our bearings. This would be a great place to stay for an even longer holiday, with it's resort-like amenities and self-catering apartments.

After a nap (we are really getting good at this Greek rhythm-of-life) thing, we made our way by local bus to the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The name Corfu (meaning peaks) comes from its two hills, each with massive fortresses built to defend from Ottoman sieges. The Old Town sits between the two with a maze of winding lanes, some full of restaurants, lively bars, and shops. Other back alleys are more residential, with lines of laundry strung from the balconies.


It also holds some impressive architecture, including the Liston arcade, and high-class museums, along with 39 churches.

On the eastern side of town The Old Fort (Palio Frourio) looms over the city. It was built in the 13th century and is accessed by a bridge over a seawater moat.



We returned back to the Old City where the church bells were ringing continuously and a jazz group was warming up in front of the Palace (now Asian Art Museum).


The jazz group still weren't playing, so we went into the Palace garden. All of a sudden, everything started to make sense.


We had seen a bridal party getting photos earlier. They were the reason for the church bells, the jazz group, and the candles along the paths of the Palace gardens.

Their florist had even tried to disguise the trash cans. Realizing we were about to crash a wedding, we moved along (fairly quickly).


We wandered along the promenade full of parks and statues. This statue really demonstrates the hodge-podge of culture. He was a German general, in charge of the invading Venetians, located outside the Greek fortress, dressed in Roman garb!

There is so much to explore in this old city but we were wandering through the streets with a purpose.

The New Port has a beach and its a sheltered area with clean warm water. We were quite amused watching this crew member use a paddle board to ferry items from shore to the yacht.

As we went back through the town this group of ladies were waiting to perform in a show at one of the churches and graciously posed for me.

Probably the biggest historical attraction is the Old Fort.

The Old Fort was originally built on a promontory but the Venetians built a contrafossa (a sea channel moat) making the fortress into an artificial island. The fort was successful in defending against all three major Ottoman sieges.


While originally built in the 7th Century, most of the fortifications were made during the Venetian rule in the 1300s.

The British occupation during the early 1800s built the British barracks and hospital.

The Venetian prison is right next door to the British Barracks. The fortress is a mish-mash of styles. The Church of St. George is an example of how buildings changed. The church was

built during the British protectorate period (1815 - 1864). When the Brits withdrew, it was turned into a Greek Orthodox Church.

Carrying along the pathway en route to the top. It was another really hot Greek day with no shade.

In the early 1700s, lightning struck the Castel da Mare gun powder magazines, setting off a chain reaction of explosions that destroyed most buildings inside the castle. On the way to Castel da Mare, the path goes past some of the remaining storage rooms.

It was quite a climb, as is common with these fortresses. It's hard enough to walk up carrying a backpack and water bottle, invaders would have been too exhausted to fight once they got to the top.

At the summit is the Castel a Mare (sea tower) lighthouse.

Across on the twin peak is Castel a Terre (the land tower) with the British hospital in the foreground









It was a great 3 weeks in Greece island-hopping. There are so many more islands to explore and Greece could be a regular destination without ever going back to the same place. I hope this post has inspired you to put Corfu on your travel shortlist.

 

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