Get prepared for a lifetime experience in the island of Corfu!
Did you know that Corfu island is the perfect destination for history lovers? The entire Old town of Corfu is a listed UNESCO site; it has outstanding cultural value that few places can match. Furthermore, it is remarkably fascinating for sightseeing even if you are not too bothered about delving into its history. Corfu island speaks volumes to history lovers, giving them the opportunity to witness how its tumultuous history has left a permanent mark on the remarkable structures. Exploring them is a unique experience for both adults and families. Apart from the history lovers, children especially will be thrilled by the array of castles, palaces and fortresses of Corfu, appealing to the fairytale aspect that enchants every child, as well as those adults who never really grew up! Add some of the Ionian’s most breathtaking beaches, a holiday in Corfu really has it all.
New Fortress of Corfu
Must see sites to see in Corfu island for history lovers
Of course, the majority of UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in and around the Old town of Corfu. A casual saunter around the cobblestone streets will reveal a multitude of structures that were erected during the Ventian rule over the island, from the 15th to the 19th century. Simply unmissable are the most prominent ones, such as the late Medieval bastioned fortifications of the Old Venetian fortress and the New Venetian fortress. The former is very impressive. It covers the promontory at the edge of town, which, prior to its construction as it stands today, protected the even older town that had emerged during the Byzantine times. The Venetians reinforced the fortifications that included extending a moat that connected to the mainland part of the island, thus creating a stronghold that survived not one, but three Ottoman sieges. The latter New Venetian fortress came a little later, built exclusively by the Venetians and located behind the port of Corfu. It towers over it acting as a second bastion to the town, further reinforcing the fortifications that made the island impenetrable. Both fortresses are worth a visit and can be reached by a 20 minute walk while sauntering the historic streets.
Mon Repos Palace in Corfu
Not far from the Old town of Corfu, you will find the Archaeological Museum of Corfu and the Paleopolis Archaeological Museum. They are the top museums to visit if you want to get to grips with the island’s ancient past and the relics that have been discovered throughout the centuries. The former was initially built to house the findings of the aforementioned Temple of Artemis, and today it features a plethora of artefacts including the cenotaph of Menecrates/Menekrates and the remarkable Gorgon pediment from the Artemis temple. The latter is found in the historical building of Mon Repos, a villa that has had many uses since it was built in the 19th century. It was a summer residence for the British commissioner and later as a palace for an Austrian Empress as well as a school of fine arts. The site of Mon Repos was actually the inspiration behind our Mayor Mon Repos Palace Art Hotel located close by, and is the ideal place for history and art lovers to stay during their holiday in Corfu.
The Gorgon pediment from the Temple of Artemis, now displayed in the Aechaeological Museum of Corfu.
Corfu is an enchanting place that meshes centuries of history that come to life. If you wish to see some ancient ruins then the top archaeological sites to visit are the following. The Temple of Artemis, which was also a sanctuary, in the area of Garitsi about 2 km from the old town of Corfu. It appears to have been a truly striking place during the times of antiquity, at least that is what the ruins tell us. Built around 580 BC, it used to have a massive altar at about 2.7m wide, one of the largest recorded in ancient Greece. Another interesting site is that of the Temple of Kardaki, built around 500 BC. It can be found about a kilometer away from the Temple of Artemis, and more towards the sea, also in close proximity to the Temple of Hera, also known as Heraeum, which was dating even further back to 610 BC. One last site which is recommended for history lovers is Kassiopi Castle, located in the northeastern part of the island, overlooking the namesake fishing village. Strictly speaking it is not an ancient site, having been built during the Byzantine era and used to defend against the Venetian takeover. It is fairly well preserved due to it being much more recent that all the aforementioned ancient Greek sites and while its origin still remains a bit of a mystery, a visit is surely to excite you.
For more riveting sites to visit in Corfu for history lovers, kindly check our list of the top landmarks in Corfu.
Kassiopi Castle in the northen part of Corfu