The best historical and cultural sites in Corfu
Often overlooked as simply a holiday destination for people who want to top up their tan, Greece’s greenest island, nicknamed “The Emerald Isle” (just like Ireland!) thanks to its miles of lush greenery and fields of olive trees, is actually a site of historical and cultural significance.
When holidaying in Corfu, you don’t have to look far in order to find a village, a town or a ruin that has lain there for many years and offers prime opportunity for exploration and adventure, but where should you go?
Kassiopi ruins image by mafleen, shared under a Creative Commons Licence
Located on the north east coast of the island, Kassiopi is often seen as a haunt for the wealthy and well-connected, boasting luxury villas and lots of tourists during the summer season. Beyond this, there is so much more depth to Kassiopi.
According to local historians, the town is believed to have been formed around the 3rd century BC, during the reign of King Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, which was once the most powerful state in Ancient Greece.
The island was used as a supply post during its war with Rome. Eventually it was conquered by the Romans in 230 BC and thereafter a Byzantine fortress was built on the north of town, which was later used by the Venetians to defend against Ottoman Empire attacks. Despite its colourful history, parts of it still stand today for you to explore.
Image by Ladislav Salom, shared under a Creative Commons Licence
Built in the south of Corfu City during 1888 by the Austrian Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria, the Achilleion Palace was designed around the legend of Achilles: the mythical Greek hero who slayed Hector during the siege of Troy, but was later killed by a wound on his heel.
The Palace is an astounding sight, boasting paintings and statues of the fallen Greek warrior, as well as Imperial Gardens which give visitors an exceptional view of the surrounding hills, valleys and the Ionian Sea.
After Elisabeth’s death, the Palace belonged to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who used it as a summer residence, while it was a military hospital, orphanage and military headquarters during the First and Second World Wars.
Today, visitors flock to it for its beautiful surroundings and panoramic views of Corfu City and the south of the island.
Corfu Old Town image by Alexander Saprykin, shared under a Creative Commons Licence
Billed as ‘the most alive historical museum in Corfu’, this 19th century mansion in Corfu’s historic Old Town uses robots (yes, robots!) and other cutting edge technology to provide visitors with a glimpse of the island of days long past.
A completely unique attraction in every way, Casa Parlante is fixated on the lifestyle of people of nobility and a great deal of hard work has gone into recreating how the upper class members of Corfu society lived just a few hundred years ago. From the clothes to the decor, even the smells have been painstakingly recreated in order to give you the ultimate visitor experience.
If you’re looking to absorb a little (or a lot) culture in between leisurely days lounging around the pool or hitting the beach, Corfu is the Greek island for you.