Cosmopolitan and traditional
Cosmopolitan, but also traditional, full of natural beauties and monuments from its long history, Corfu lies elongated in the northwest part of Greece, at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, at a distance of 5 nm west of the coast of Epirus. Its northeast coast is at 1 nm from the coast of Albania. It has an area of 593 sq km, a length of 61 km and a width of 28 km. The highest peak is Pantokratoras at a height of 911 m, in the north part. It has fertile soil and lush vegetation. The length of the coastline is 217 km. Apart from certain sections in the northwest the shores are low, sandy and lacy, with coves and picturesque beaches. Two large bays are formed in the east. On the southwestern side is the lagoon Korissia.
Since many years Corfu is one of the most famous international tourist destinations. It has a high level of infrastructure, rich market with many local products and famous traditional cuisine. Corfu Town, the capital and important port, maintains its character with elements from the Venetian era, as well as influences from the English and French period of the island. The Old City is on the list of UNESCO’s world cultural heritage. Among the many attractions are the Old and New Fortress, great public buildings, mansions, churches, museums and more. Close by is the famous islet Pontikonessi (Mouse).
Throughout the island there are wonderful sites and beautiful settlements, on the coast, as well as in the interior – Achillion, Gouvia, Kassiopi, Karousades, Sinarades, Pelekas, Palaeokastritsa, Glyfada, Corissia, Marathias, Lefkimi and many other areas.
Various findings indicate human presence since the Paleolithic Age. According to tradition, the Homeric Corfu was the island of Phaeakes. Around 750 BC, settlers from Eretria of Euboea founded the first colony. Shortly after, in 734, residents of Corinth founded their own colony. For a long time in antiquity Corfu had the second, after Athens, strongest fleet in Greece. In 301 BC it was occupied by the Syracussians and in 229 by Illyrian pirates. Looking for protection, the inhabitants surrendered the city to the Romans. During the Byzantine era the city was built on a fortified peninsula with two koryfes (peaks). So it was named Corfoi, from which the international name of Corfu came.
It experienced many invasions by barbarians as it was the gateway to Epirus and in 1080 was conquered by the Normans, who had become masters of Sicily. In 1205 the Venetians came and in 1267 the Angevins (d’ Anjou) of Naples. The Venetians returned in 1386 and stayed four centuries. It was a time of great growth and prosperity. The city was inside the castle. Outside, a new city was developed and In front of the fort a large space was formed for its protection – the current great square of Spiniada. It was besieged three times without success by the Turks – in 1537, 1571 and 1716. After the second siege the new city was protected by a wall, which became the New Fortress.
In 1797 - 1799 it was occupied by the French of Revolution and then experienced a peculiar Russian occupation. Then it was founded the State of the Seven Islands, a kind of autonomy. In 1807 - 1814 came the French of the Napoleonic imperial era and in 1815 the British, who stayed until 1864, when Corfu, along with the other Ionian Islands was joined in Greece.