One of the best reasons to explore the island for those on Corfu villa holidays is because of the sheer amount of amazing history on offer.
Many peoples – Greeks, Venetians, Byzantines and more – have called Corfu home over the centuries and the millennia, and they’ve all left their own impression on the island. There are layers and layers of history covering Corfu, with the result being a place that melds Greek culture, Venetian-inspired buildings and ancient castles into something totally unique.
To help you find some of the various historical treasures dotted about the island from the many Corfu private villas on the island, we’ve put together this short guide showing you three pieces of Corfu’s history you need to see.
Sitting atop the highest of peaks on Corfu’s northwest coast – not far from Palaiokastrista – Angelokastro is a stunning example of the island’s Byzantine past.
When choosing a spot for their castle, the Byzantines wanted somewhere that both afforded them near-invulnerability from attack, but that also enabled them to watch over the surrounding areas. Choosing a point over 1,000ft above sea level and right on the edge of a cliff, it’s safe to say they made a wise choice. Despite a number of attempts by various groups to capture and sack the castle, Angelokastro remains unconquered to this very day.
For nearly three-hundred years – from the 13th to the 16th century – the castle served as the de-facto capital of Corfu and, later, as the seat of the Governor of the Ionian Islands. Angelokastro is easy to get to from large villas in Corfu, and it’s one trip you won’t forget.
Not as old as some of the island’s historical sites, Achilleion is nevertheless a fascinating place that offers visitors unparalleled views of the city of Corfu and out over the entire southern portion of the island.
Built in the late 19th century, the intent of the design is to mirror classical Greek architecture with some features contemporaneous to the time. The result is one of Corfu’s most unique and fascinating buildings. Originally commissioned and built by the Empress of Austria Elisabeth of Bavaria, it soon passed into the hands of the German Kaiser after the empress’s passing. Kaiser Wilhelm II made Achilleion his summer retreat, with European leaders travelling to Corfu to meet with the German leader. The architecture and grounds of Achilleion are more than worth seeing, and, as a bonus, you can take in wonderful views encompassing the southern part of Corfu.
As we talked about above, Corfu has layers of history and there are few better examples than Old Fortress.
Occupied and expanded by, in turn, the Byzantines, the Venetians, France, the United Kingdom and Greece, Old Fortress is a piece of Corfu’s history that speaks to the many peoples that have, at one time or another, called the island their home.
Surviving sieges, sea battles, German occupation during World War Two and more, Old Fortress is as much a testament to the indomitable spirit of the people of Corfu as it is to the occupying powers that built, modified and changed the structure.