Bella Vista Hotel would like to welcome you the Corfu island own page where visitors can learn the brief history, information, and attractions of the town.
Known as the Emerald Isle, The Old Town is awash in vibrant colors and architectural styles. The population of Corfu town is around 32,000 people, and it has quite a cosmopolitan feel compared to other islands of Greece.
Although Corfu was never occupied by the Turks, there have been many other notable influences on the island such as the British, the Normans, the French, the Italians, and the Romans who have all left their distinct marks across the Old Town. This can be seen in everything from historic landmarks and architecture, fusion cuisine, and renowned museums and churches. These influences are all offset by the sparkling blue sea, and the high stone fortresses, making the Old Town a delight to the senses.
Corfu is home to St. Spyridon, whose body resides in the Saint Spyridon Church encased in a glass tomb. The people of Corfu frequently pay homage to the Saint with religious parades and festivals, wherein guests are welcomed to partake in the local traditions of the island.
The Old Town was built in the 16th century, and is a maze of narrow cobble-stone roads lined with coffee bars, boutiques, and restaurants. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Old Town is shadowed by two giant stone fortresses, and by night, the lights from the fortresses illuminate the town giving it a dreamy glow. The Old Town is indeed a lively city, but the noise level, competitive prices, and parking issues have increasingly driven guests to seek accommodation in the villages outside of the city. Due to this fact, Benitses in an especially popular destination as a base for tourists looking to explore the island without the hassle of staying in the bustling center.
The Island of Corfu is 593 square kilometers, and has root from the 8th century B.C. Geographically Corfu is located off the western coasts of Albania and Greece.
It is strategically positioned at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, and its stone fortresses are testament to the centuries of struggle with foreign occupants.
From medieval times until the 17th century, the island was recognized one of the most fortified places in all of Europe. The fortifications of the island were used by the Venetians to defend against Ottoman invasion into the Adriatic. Corfu also repudiated several Turkish sieges, before falling under British rule after the Napoleonic Wars. In 1864, Corfu was finally reunited with mainland Greece under the Treaty of London.
The forts of the town were designed by renowned Venetian engineers, and used for four centuries to defend the maritime trading interests of the Republic of Venice against the Ottoman Empire. During the course of history, the forts had to be repaired and rebuilt several times, the most recent being under British rule in the 19th century. As a result, Corfu’s capital has been officially declared a “castle city” (Kastropolis) by the Greek government.
Corfu has always been a bridge between the eastern and western world, and this can be witnessed throughout the island. Guests are delighted to find such a blend of cultures, in addition to the natural beauty of the island itself. Bella Vista Hotel hopes to welcome you soon for the opportunity to experience this special fusion of cultures and to experience the natural beauty for yourself!
As mentioned above, the history of Corfu is an eclectic blend of cultures which can be witnessed throughout the island. The city has a wide variety of shops and boutiques, restaurants, cafes, bars, museums, palaces, heritage sites, and markets for visitors to explore while visiting the Old Town.
There are beautiful French squares filled with colorful flowers, Venetian castles, and Byzantine churches, all of which contribute to truly unique atmosphere of Corfu Town. Because of these factors, the Old Town embodies a special character which visitors find to be reminiscent of Naples.
The following is a guide to some of the most well-known and historically significant attractions of the town:
The Old Fortress is the most well-known and most famous castle in Corfu, with a history that is closely connected with that of the island. It is situated on a rocky peninsula and dates back to the Byzantine era. Today it is a source of pride to the locals, and greatly enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year. During the summer months, it is host to international and local artists who organize concerts here.
is situated closer to the old harbor. The construction of the castle began in 1577 under the Venetian rule, and was completed in 1588. This castle is significantly smaller than the Old Castle, but was considered as an architectural miracle, as it hindered the Turks from conquering Corfu in 1716.
The City Palace was built in 1824 during the English occupation, and is hosts to some of the most elegant monuments on the island. Today the Palace accommodates the Museum of Asian Art, the Municipal Art gallery, the 5th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, as well as the Municipal art café in its garden.
The Town Hall building is located at Michael Theotoki Square, and is a 17th century building reminiscent of classic Venetian architecture. The construction began in 1663 and was completed in 1693 by an unknown architect.
Ionian Academy was established in 1808 and is located on the south side of the island. This academy brings a youthful exuberance to the Old Town.
Espianade Square is the central square, and one of the highlights of Corfu Town. It was turned into a public square by the French, and today is used for frequent cricket matches, or those wishing to enjoy a quiet afternoon with a coffee.
The Liston is an area resembling the Rue de Rivoli, and was built by French architects during the French occupation of Corfu. When first constructed only the noblemen of the Libro D’ Oro were allowed to enter and walk along the street and under the arches. A special list ensured this area was to only be used by the elite. The area is now open to all and is marked by beautiful vaulted galleries, archways, and hanging lanterns. Here a range of coffee shops and restaurants can be found, and the area is especially beautiful when illuminated at night.
The Square of the Saints are the three of the most important churches of Corfu, and surround the square (St. Spyridon Church, The Church of the Blessed Virgin of Strangers, and St. John Church).
Ionian Parliament is located on Moustoxidi Street, and is an important monument built in 1855. The inscription on the building commemorates the unification of the state with the newly built democratic state.
Kanoni Peninsula is the area where the first city of Corfu was originally built. The area has many archaeological sites, and the terrace offers a beautiful view over the bay and the famous islet of Pontikonisi.
(tel.: +30 26610 30680) The museum was built between 1962 – 1965. The museum land was donated by the city of Corfu. Its initial purpose was to house the archaeological finds from the Temple of Artemis in Corfu. In 1994 it was expanded with the addition of two more exhibit halls that display the more recent finds at the ancient citadel of Corfu. It is located on 1 Vraila Armeni St.
(tel.: +30 26610 30443) Founded in 1928, the museum has a unique collection of over 15,000 works of Asian art from private and individual donors. Today, the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George house the Museum of Asian Art, the only one of its kind in Greece, which is solely dedicated to art and antiquities of the Far East and India.
(tel.: + 30 26610 30674 8.30-3.00) This church is dedicated to the Holy Virgin “Our Lady of Antivouniotissa,” and was established in the 15th century. It is the oldest, most complete, and best preserved example of the “Basilica” style. On permanent display the museum has a large and important collection of movable icons and heirlooms. This collection includes significant works dating from the 15th to the 20th century, representing the artistic and religious expression of Corfu and the Ionian Islands.
The Palace of Mon Repos is surrounded by extensive gardens, and was built under British rule to be used later by Greece’s King George as a summer villa. It contains a large variety of exhibits including archaeological finds, Byzantine remains, paintings, furniture and dresses from the British rule. Nearby are the excavated remains of Palaeopolis, the ancient city of Corfu.
(tel.: +30 26610 41552)Opened in 1981 by the Ionian Bank and located in St. Spiridon Square in Corfu Town, it is the only museum of its kind in Greece, and is famous for the value of its collection. The comprehensive collection of banknotes dates from the founding of the modern nation to the present day, and also includes printing dyes, proofs, bank documents, stamps and a rare collection of notes from all over the world.
St. Spyridon church (Patron Saint of Corfu) – Contact tel. +30 26610 39779 / 33059. As the patron of the island, Saint Spyridon, is believed to have saved the island four times from terrible dangers, and thus garners a deep sense of respect from locals. The remains of his mummified corpse are housed in the church and carried in a procession for religious holidays. The architectural style is Venetian, and the bell tower is the highest point of the town.
Even though during the summer season the streets of Corfu Town are filled with people, there is always a quiet place to escape the heat and commotion and relax with a coffee or a chilled ginger beer. The smell of freshly washed laundry drying in the sun is carried through the stone streets, and everywhere one looks is filled with life and color. The Old Town has managed to retain its rustic charm, without sacrificing the modernity and convenience of a metropolitan city. Guests are often bedazzled by the magnificent Old Town and its charm, and find no shortage of ways to spend leisurely time.
As Benitses is located only 12 km from the Corfu Town, guests find it the perfect location from which to enjoy the Old Town, while still returning to the peace and quiet of the beach and a sea-side village. Corfu Town is just a short ride away, and buses run frequently for those wishing to explore the city. Bella Vista Hotel in Benitses offers guests competitive prices, and is also centrally located for those planning to travel to the beautiful beaches in the southern part of the island. We hope you will be visiting Corfu town soon, and joining us at Bella Vista Hotel!