Discover the Ancient Corfu Monuments and Archaeological Sites
The first known inhabitants of the island were the Eretrians, who travelled from Evia Island and colonized Corfu in 775-750 b.C before the Corinthians (730 b.C.). Some centuries later, Athenians and Romans also settled in Kanoni Peninsula, a place where we can still admire some remains of their cultures. The area known as Paleopolis (Old City) is a must-visit place if you’re into Ancient History, and it’s located between the Airport, Garitsa Bay, and Kanoni Peninsula.
Mon Repos Estate: Garden, Sites and Museum
According to archaeological discoveries, the ancient city of Corfu had two ports—the port of Alkinoos and the Greek port—and stretched from the region of Anemomylos to Kanoni. The heart of the Paleopolis was in the region where the Mon Repo Estate is now. Take a break from the summer sun and stroll around this magnificent property, dominated by a Neoclassic palace.
Almost 200 years ago, in the gardens of the mansion, more than 2,000 species were planted, many of which are still there today. The old trees that one comes across during a visit are impressive; they offer free natural shade even during the hottest months. Here, the impressing Temple of Hera still keeps some of its columns since the 7th Century b.C very close to the sea side.
The Roman Baths, the Paleochristian basilica and the Neratzicha tower are some of the still remains of this period. Mon Repos palace hosts a small but very complete museum with small artifacts found in the area. They are from the Roman to the Early Christian periods, as well as an interesting collection of old Corfiot costumes and photographs.
Corfu Archaeological Museum
If you want to know more about Corfu monuments and its history, don’t miss the Archaeological Museum. It reopened a few years ago after a long renovation. Visit it and admire many artefacts from ancient times, such as the impressive Gorgon-Medusa pediment from the great temple of Artemis, discovered in 1911 and dated back to 585 B.C. Its unique iconography shows the mythical monster surrounded by mysterious panthers!
Corfu Monuments: The Old Town
Whenever you visit Corfu Island, don’t forget to save one day and visit the Old Town. There are so many things to see and discover that you will agree with us once you have followed our advice!
Let’s take a look at some of the spots we have selected for you.
The Old Fortress
The ancient city of Corfu was destroyed by the Visigoths in the 5th Century AD. After this tragic event, the population decided to move from Kanoni to the actual location of the island’s capital. In the 8th Century, the Byzantines built a fortress on a natural promontory to defend the island from further attacks.
The subsequent rulers kept reinforcing the structure, while locals started to build their houses around the fortress walls for higher protection.
800 years later, the Venetians strengthened its fortifications, extended the bastions and dug the moat known as the kontra fossa separating the fortress from the land. These works secured an excellent and successful safeguard against Turkish Ottoman attacks, creating an impenetrable triple line of defence both by land and from the sea.
Most of these works are still visible, together with the new buildings erected by the British during the Protectorate and before the Second World War. Indeed, the Old Fortress is one of the most popular Corfu Monuments!
The New Fortress
Due to the permanent threat of the Turks, the Venetians felt that it was necessary to complete the fortifications of the city, which, in the meanwhile, had been extended far beyond the Old Fortress.In 1576, they started to build the New Fortress on the hill of San Marcos, which extended South with walls and ramparts reaching the sea at Garitsa Bay. The Town of Corfu was now fully protected within the walls: Corfu took the name Kastropolis, which means “City Between Castles”.
They also created the Esplanade by demolishing more than 2,000 houses in the surrounding area. The new space became a large buffer zone between the Old Fortress and the city, which would improve their defence plans. The French decided to design a park in this space, and nowadays, the Esplanade is one of the most popular squares in Corfu.
The Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George
During the era of British rule, High Commissioner Sir Frederick Adams decided to build a house for his family. He created a unique palace in Georgian Neoclassic style.
Sir George Whitmore designed the building and inaugurated it in 1819.
This palace represents the best example of Regency Architecture outside Britain. The front line of Doric columns has two gates, the Gate of St. Michael and the Gate of St. George. In the front garden there is a statue of Commissioner Frederick Adams dressed as a Roman emperor.
The palace previously housed the Ionian Senate and is the home of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. IIt was the summer residence of the former Greek royal family during fifty years.
The building looks over the north side of Spianada Square and houses the Asian Art Museum and the Municipal Gallery.
The Town Hall
This beautiful building, constructed between 1663 and 1693, housed the famous San Giacomo theatre. In 1865 Nicholaos Mantzaros composer the Greek National Anthem in this theatre. Today it houses the town hall headquarters and the Mayor’s office.
Don’t miss the lovely restaurants and cafeterias in the area, a haven of peace among the bustling alleys of the Old Town.
The Ionian Parliament Building, a Corfu Monument of High Significance
This is a place with a deep historical significance. During the British Protectorate, the representatives of the Ionian Islands voted here for their Union with Greece. It was eventually ratified on 23rd September 1863.
Ioannis Chronis designed the Neoclassic building in 1855. It has a distinctive entrance of Doric columns and an imposing hall where the meetings used to be held.
Its retoration took place in 1978. Today it houses a museum devoted to the struggle of the people of the Eptanisa (Ionian Islands) for freedom.
The Ionian Academy
Grimani Correr, the General Provveditore of the city, started the construction of a new building to be used as a barracks. It was located at one of the city entrances at the era of Venetian rule.
The Ionian Academy was founded in 1823 with the help of Lord Frederick Guilford. It became the first university in the Modern Greece. The building suffered the Luftwaffe bombings in WWII, and it was fully restored in 1994.
If you want more information about the past and present of the Ionian University, you can find it in this link: https://ionio.gr/en/university/
How to Visit the Corfu Monuments?
A private walking tour in Corfu is the best way to have a thorough view of all these Corfu monuments.
You can use this post as a guide, or you can also see and choose one from all our private tours in Corfu: