The verdant isle of Corfu with its peerless natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and contemporary tourist infrastructure, is the best known of the Greek and Ionian islands.Lying at the mouth of the Adriatic sea, opposite the mainland shore from which it is separated to the north by a narrow channel of water just 2.5 km in width , it is the northernmost of the Ionian islands and, at the same time, the most western part of Greek territory.
The island’s capital is the delightful Kerkyra town, one of the most attractive in Europe. Built on a narrow strip of land, it owes its charm to the many disparate elements it contains, the traces of the different cultures which have settled there. The island with its pure, crystal-clear waters and picturesque bays and coves, enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate of mild winters and cool summers. The trees and grass and bushes stretch right down to the shore, adorned all year round with the colours of the blooming flowers and the trees laden with fruit. The island people communicate with simplicity and courtesy, proud of their island’s history and culture.
22 kilometers from the city, is a small village built on a hill on the east coast of Corfu. From here passes the national Lefkimmi while up to Perama the road is separated from the sea by a small strip of sandy and sometimes rocky coast. Throughout the distance you will find beautiful beaches for swimming in warm waters and a great offer of tourist services. From the Roman era to the present, it is the first choice for a holiday. The beach of Messonghi is crossed by the Messonghi river that flows into the sea at this point.
HISTORY & CULTURE
The first literary reference to the island is in Homer’s Odyssey , where on the island of the Phaeacians Odysseus, recently escaped from Calypso , encounters Nausica , daughter of the King.
A number of archaeological finds leave no doubt the Corfu was inhibited as early as the Paleolithic period. According to the mythological tradition the island acquired its current name , Kerkira in Greek , from a nymph of that name , a daughter of Asopos. Zeus fell in love with her and brought her to the island. The island was a colony of the city of Corinth during classical times , and enjoyed great affluence and a flourishing cultural life. At the end of 4th century BC it passed into the hands of the Spartans , and was subsequently ruled by Agathocles , tyrant of Syracuse.
It later became part of the territory of the King of Epeirus. A little later the island was occupied by the Romans. During Byzantine period the island enjoyed great prosperity , although it was often subjected to the hostile raids and incursions. The island’s vital strategic importance constantly attracted new conquerors.
As the Byzantine Empire entered upon its decline , Corfu was occupied for a short period by the Venetians rule , and there began a period of great importance in the island’s history. The Venetians administered the island for 400 years , stamping their mark indelibly on the island’s culture. Under the venetian Corfu enjoyed a period of great distinction in the arts and literature.Among the many traces of Venetian rule still to be , seen on the island are its fortresses , houses , monuments and opera house.
On the fall of the venetian republic , the islands were surrendered to France , whose rule was quickly ended by the Russo-Turkish occupation , followed by a short interval of independence with the creation of the Septinsular Republic.
The 18th century was a period of intense artistic and cultural activity for the island. It had no fewer than fifteen philharmonic orchestras , and a host of painters , writes , musicians and other artists.
Following Napoleon’s agreement with the Russians , the island was conceded to the french , and almost immediately afterwards occupied by the British.
Along with the other Ionian islands, Corfu was relinquished by the British and became part of the modern Greek state in 1864 .
The area around SPILEO provides a great opportunity for some reallylovely mountain walks. There are many places of interest to find as you wander though the olive groves and villages. Dotted along the way you will come across traditional tavernas like 75 Steps to refresh yourself ready for your next destination.
The views to the see from the mountains are superb and panoramic and the village very quaint and traditional.
The Greek people are notorious for being friendly to passing travelers and will welcome you wherever you go in this area. The map shown provides an overview of the area, but there are excellent guidebooks available which give you more detail and information on the walks and places of interest.