At the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece, Corfu is probably the imperial jewel in the Ionian crown. Lush with greenery and olive trees and splashed by turquoise waters, it is the second largest of the Ionian Islands. Corfu’s Venetian, French and British past makes for a fascinating cultural, historical, even architectural trajectory, while Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey, was washed ashore in its emerald waters before finally returning to Ithaki. Once a preferred holiday destination for the aristocracy of Europe, Corfu remains today one of the most sought-after destinations for sophisticated international vacationers.
An air steeped in history surrounds Corfu’s Old Town, an UNESCO designated world heritage site. Authentic towns, picturesque villages, traditional settlements make Corfu’s countryside equally fascinating, whether visiting the Folkloric Museum in Siranades, checking out the churches in Lefkimmi or taking in the vista from Makrades. With beaches to match all this splendor, Corfu is a Greek summer’s dream. Green-covered cliffs and olive tree forests surround the coast of Paleokastritsa, where sea caves of striking beauty wait to be explored. Rock formations create an attractive backdrop in Agios Gordios, while Pelekas’s golden sand is always a major attraction. Here, in the hilltop village, Kaiser Willhelm II marveled at the sunset, his lookout point called Kaiser’s Throne. Glyfada remains the most popular beach, gathering quite a big crowd with its crystalline waters. Nissaki resembles a blue lagoon, while Issos appears to be one with the horizon.
The Old Fortress, built on the site of a Byzantine castle, spreads majestically to the sea and cannot be missed. Dating from the 10th century, it truly is a part of living history. Enter the grounds and stop to enjoy the picturesque sea moat, lined with small fishing boats. Further inside, the Byzantine Museum displays an interesting collection of mosaics and Byzantine frescoes. Breathe in the sea air and start for the climb past the Venetian clock tower and up to the lighthouse at the very top. Enjoy the simply stunning views of Corfu Town, the harbor and Mountain Pantokrator to the North. Back down, the church of Saint George, built in 1840, resembles an ancient Doric temple. Now compare notes with the New Fortress built three decades after the ‘Old’. Wander through the maze of tunnels, moats and fortifications and transfer yourself back in time.
*Image of bay at Corfu via Shutterstock
*Image of Hellenic temple at Corfu island, Greece via Shutterstock