Get prepared for a lifetime experience in the island of Corfu!
With December comes the most magical time of year, a time of joy, hope and light. December is a favourite month as the countdown to Christmas has already begun, filling our souls with the anticipation of the festivities to come. A religious holiday season that prescribes we do a bit of introspection, looking back on the year that culminates on December 31st and setting new goals for the new year that approaches. During this highly spiritual time, some people will tend to flock to churches and monasteries, to various sacred places as a way of rekindling their connection to the divine and reigniting their faith, regardless of religion. In this light, we present the most impressive monasteries and churches of Corfu for you to discover, whether you are in our island during December or any other time.
Churches of Corfu - Corfu town
Corfu town has its own patron saint, that of the Greek Orthodox St. Spyridonas. The namesake church is a single nave basilica structure, built in 1580’s and can be discerned from the rest of the skyline by a striking red belltower which is the highest in all the Ionian islands. It has a wonderfully ornate painted ceiling by Panagiotis Doxaras which was later revamped by Nikolaos Aspiotis due to having been damaged. On the 12th December it is St. Spyridonas day, a joyous occasion for all the old town Corfiots to engage in. Special ‘tiganites t’ Agiou’ are prepared all over town, filling the ‘kantounia’ streets with the tantalising smell of fried dough and cinnamon is the local way of celebrating St. Spyridonas in Corfu.
Skyine view of Corfu town, with the red belltower of patron St. Spyridonas church.
Close-up of belltower of Agios Spyridonas church in Corfu town.
The Cathedral of St. James & St. Christopher is a compact Roman Catholic church which is more reminiscent of a parish than a cathedral in terms of size and opulence. Its history is a confusing one to follow as this is the second Cathedral, following the destruction of the first one, which was located in the Old Fortress. There is no certain date regarding its construction however, it is estimated to be around the 15th or 16th century. It has undergone a few renovations due to normal wear and tear as well as it being a target of sieges by the Ottoman empire and more recently the Germans in the 20th century. Despite its more timid appearance, the cathedral is home to some brilliant stained glass murals.
The Cathedral of St. James & St. Christopher in Corfu town.
Next is the remarkable Metropolitan Church of Corfu also known as Panagia Spiliotissa Metropolitan Church. It is by far the most impressive to look at of all the churches in Corfu town, featuring an all-marble staircase that leads up to a crimson facade that showcases Renaissance elements. Built in 1577 during the Venetian era, this church harbours the remains of Saint Theodora, encased in an intricate silver shrine. This reason is why it is so highly regarded by those who have an interest in religious tourism or are on pilgrimages; for all the others it is still considered one of the most beautiful churches of Corfu.
The crimson coloured, Metropolitan Church of Corfu.
Churches of Corfu - The environs
A little further out from the center of Corfu town, yet still quite centrally located you will find the picturesque Vlacherna Monastery which is perhaps the most photographed church in all of Corfu. An iconic little monastery set in the midst of a bay in the area of Pontikonissi (Mouse island), Vlacherna Monastery is one of the top churches of Corfu to get married in. Set on a tiny peninsula in the Kanoni area of Corfu, it is a popular attraction of the island gathering visitors who will either walk along the narrow stone pier to reach it, or take their seat at one of the open-air cafes opposite to enjoy the views of Vlacherna Monastery and the isle of Pontikonissi in the background.
Incredible shot of Vlacherna Monastery (and Pontikonissi in the background) by Danel Solabarrie.
One of the oldest religious structures of the island is the 13th century Paleokastritsa Monastery built in 1228. Atop a tall hill on the northwestern side of Corfu, above the namesake beach, Paleokastritsa Monastery commands astonishing panoramic views of the terrain below. The building itself is quite remarkable, painted in a bright yellow colour and also features an old oil press and a small ecclesiatical museum within its grounds. Getting there you will go through a lovely pastoral route through an olive tree orchard and a forest of cypress trees.
Entrance of Paleokastritsa Monastery in Corfu.
Onto the Monastery of Myrtidiotissa, also known as Yperagia Theotokos, located between the villages of Vatos and Pelekas, the latter of which is where you will find our beachfront Mayor Pelekas Monastery resort. It is not an impressive monastery however it is set on a cliff on a verdant slope and to get there you will pass the wonderful beach of Myrtidiotissa, while from the monastery you can indulge in views that cover Kontogialos and Glyfada beach. Although the church dates back to the 16th century, interestingly, the monastery as it exists today was founded by a monk named Daniil, an Ottoman originally, who choose to embrace the Christian faith in the mid 1800’s.
Myrtidiotissa Monastery in Corfu.