This page provides information regarding Corfu and includes a brief history of the island and an overview of things to see across the island!
Alternately known as the Emerald Isle, The Old Town of Corfu is bathed in vibrant colors and charming architectural styles that ring true to Greek’s ancient roots. Corfu Town is home to around 32,000 people, and, today, possesses a more cosmopolitan feel by comparison to other Mediterranean towns.
The Old Town uniquely blends Greek culture with other notable cultures that have inhabited Corfu in the past. British, Norman, French, Italian and Roman influences linger here, hiding in plain sight. From historic landmarks, museums, and churches to interesting fusion cuisine, the Old Town has something that will pique the interest of any history buff. Offset by the sparkling blue sea and two colossal fortresses, Old Town is a scenic delight rich in history.
Corfu Town is the final resting place of St. Spyridon, the patron saint of Corfu. The saint’s body remains encased in a glass tomb in the St. Spyridon Church, where locals frequently visit the tomb to pray. Corfiots strongly revere this saint, and as such, several religious parades and festivals are held annually in his honor. Travelers and guests are welcomed (and encouraged!) to partake in these local celebrations to pay homage to St. Spyridon.
Lined with coffee bars, boutique shops, and restaurants, Corfu’s Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow (but charming!) cobblestone roads. Completed in the 16th century, the Old Town is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its two giant stone fortresses. When night falls over the Old Town, lights from theses fortresses illuminate the streets, which bathes the city centre in a dreamy glow.
The Old Town, however, is a lively place to be. The nature of the booming nightlife, competitive prices, and issues with parking have driven travelers to seek accommodation in smaller, quieter villages outside of the city. Because of this, Benitses has become an increasingly popular destination for tourists; it acts as the perfect base to explore the rest of the island, without the troubles that come with staying in the bustling city centre center.
The island of Corfu spans approximately 593 square kilometers and is located near the Adriatic Sea, off of the western coasts of both Albania and Greece. Geographically, Corfu’s position between these two countries have resulted in a rich, interesting history that combines influences from several cultures. The Old Town of Corfu features two massive stone fortresses that bear testament to the island’s centuries of struggle with foreign occupants.
From medieval times through the 17th century, Corfu was recognized as one of the most fortified places in all of Europe. The security offered by the island were exploited by the Venetians to in defense when the Ottomans invaded the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding territories. 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 Corfu’s Old Town were designed by renowned Venetian engineers and, for four centuries, protected the maritime trading interests of the Republic of Venice from the Ottoman Empire. Over time, the forts began to deteriorate. They were repaired and rebuilt several times; the most recent series of improvements occurred 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 acted as a bridge between the east and the west. Evidence of this is everywhere if you know where to look for it! Our guests are delighted to discover such a beautiful blend of cultures in addition to the natural beauty of the island itself. We hope we’ll have the opportunity to welcome you to Corfu so you can experience this unique island for yourself!
As mentioned above, the heart of Corfu Town’s is an amalgamation of outside influences in combination with long-adored and revered Greek culture. A short walk from any of the beautiful French squares bursting with colorful flowers, visitors will discover beautiful Venetian castles and ancient Byzantine churches brimming with history. The Old Town of Corfu also features a wide variety of charming shops and boutiques, restaurants, cafes, bars, museums, and markets for visitors to explore. Some of our guests have remarked upon the essence of the Old Town of Corfu, comparing it to Naples!
The following is a guide to some of the most well-known and historically significant attractions of the town. If you have any questions about the attractions listed below, please contact our lovely reception staff!
The Old Fortress is perhaps the most well-known castle in Corfu, with a history that is intimately linked with the island’s history. Situated on a rocky peninsula, the Old Fortress has been used as a stronghold by many peoples, and dates back to the Byzantine Era. Today, it is a source of pride for the locals, and it is visited by thousands of travelers every year. During the summer months, it is a host to both local and international artists who organize concerts there.
The New Fortress is located near the old harbor. Its construction began in 1577 under Venetian rule, and was completed in 1588. While this castle is significantly smaller than the castle at the Old Fortress, it hindered the Turks from conquering Corfu in 1716, which significantly altered the island’s history.
The City Palace was built in 1824 under British control. Today, it hosts the Museum of Asian Art, the Municipal Art gallery, and the 5th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. Some of the most elegant monuments on the island are located here, as is the Municipal art café in the palace’s garden.
The Town Hall building is located in the Michael Theotoki Square. It’s a 17th century building that feature elements of traditional Venetian architecture. The building’s construction began in 1663 and was completed in 1693 by an unknown architect.
Located on the south side of the island, the Ionian Academy was established in 1808 and lends a youthful exuberance to the otherwise traditional Old Town of Corfu.
Esplanade Square, the central square of Corfu Old Town, is a beautiful place to enjoy an afternoon with a coffee. It was turned into a public square by the French, and today is frequently used for cricket matches.
The Liston, built by French architects during France’s reign in Corfu, resembles the Rue de Rivoli. When it first constructed, only the noblemen of the Libro D’ Oro were permitted to enter and walk along its streets. An exclusive list guaranteed the space would be used exclusively by the elite. Today, the area is open to all and is marked by beautiful vaulted galleries, archaic archways, and hanging lanterns. Nearby coffee shops and restaurants are especially beautiful when illuminated by the setting sun.
The Square of the Saints are three of the most important churches of Corfu. The Church of St. Spyridon, The Church of the Blessed Virgin of Strangers, and St. John Church line this holy space.
The Ionian Parliament, an important Corfiot monument built in 1855, is located on Moustoxidi Street. The inscription on the outside of the building commemorates the unification of the old state with the more recently established democratic state.
The Kanoni Peninsula is the area Corfu’s first city occupied. The Peninsula is home to many prolific archaeological sites, and there is even a terrace nearby that offers a beautiful view of the bay and the nearby islet of the Mouse Island (Pontikonisi).
(tel.: +30 26610 30680) – 1 Vraila Armeni Street
The plot of land that shoulders the Archaeological Museum was donated by the city of Corfu with the intent of housing archaeological finds excavated from the Temple of Artemis. The museum was built between 1962–1965, but in 1994, it grew again with the addition of two more exhibition halls. Today, these exhibition halls contain the more recent finds from the ancient citadel of Corfu.
(tel.: +30 26610 30443)
Founded in 1928, the Museum of Asiatic Art maintains a unique collection of over 15,000 works of Asian art gathered from private collections. 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 the art and antiquities of the Far East and India.
(tel.: + 30 26610 30674 8.30-3.00)
Established in the 15th century, this museum is actually a church dedicated to the Holy Virgin “Our Lady of Antivouniotissa.” This church is the oldest, most complete, best-preserved example of a church completed in a basilica style. The exhibitions house a permanent collection of artistically and religiously significant icons and heirlooms that span the 15th to 20th centuries.
The Palace of Mon Repos is surrounded by grand gardens, and was constructed under British rule. Later, it would be used by Greece’s King George as a summer villa! It contains a large variety of exhibits including a number of archaeological finds, Byzantine remains, and as well as British paintings, furniture, and traditional dress. Nearby, excavated remains of Palaeopolis, the ancient city of Corfu await your exploration!
(tel.: +30 26610 41552)
Opened in 1981 by the Ionian Bank, and located in St. Spiridon Square in Corfu Town, the Numismatic Museum is the only one of its kind in Greece. It’s famous for the value of its comprehensive collection of banknotes that date from the nation’s founding to the present day. It also includes information about printing dyes, proofs, bank documents and stamps. All together, it is a rare collection of notes from all over the world!
St. Spyridon Church (+30 26610 39779 / 33059)
The patron of Corfu, Saint Spyridon, is believed to have saved the island four times from terrible danger, which garners a deep respect from locals. The saint’s remains are kept in the church and regularly carried in a procession during religious holidays. The church is completed in a Venetian architectural style, and its bell tower is the highest point of the town.
Although the streets of Corfu Town are busy during the summer months, there is always a quiet place to escape with a refreshing coffee or a chilled ginger beer. The fragrant scent of fresh laundry drying in the sun is carried on a breeze through Corfu Town’s winding stone streets and over its many open squares. 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 enchanted by the magnificence of the Old Town and find no shortage of ways to spend their time.
Because Benitses is located only 12 kilometers away, many travelers spend the day in the invigorating Old Town, then escape to Benitses to enjoy some peace and quiet by the seaside. Corfu Town is just a short ride away, and buses run frequently for those who want to explore the city. Centrally-located Bella Vista Hotel & Studios in Benitses offers guests competitive prices, and is convenient not only in regard to Corfu Town, but in traveling the whole of the island. We hope you will be visiting Corfu Town sometime soon, and we look forward to welcoming you to Bella Vista!