Corfu

Is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands ] and, including its small satellite islands, forms the northwesternmost part of Greece.

The island is bound up with the history of Greece from the beginnings of Greek mythology. Its Greek name, Kerkyra or Korkyra, is related to two powerful water symbols: Poseidon, god of the sea, and Asopos, an important Greek mainland river. According to myth, Poseidon fell in love with the beautiful nymph Korkyra, daughter of Asopus and river nymph Metope, and abducted her. Poseidon brought Korkyra to the hitherto unnamed island and, in marital bliss, offered her name to the place: Korkyra, which gradually evolved to Kerkyra (Doric). Together, they had a child they called Phaiax, after whom the inhabitants of the island were named Phaiakes, in Latin Phaeaciani. Corfu’s nickname is The island of the Phaeacians.

The Old Town of Corfu city is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. In several parts of the old city, buildings of the Venetian era are to be found. The old city’s architectural character is strongly influenced by the Venetian style, coming as it did under Venetian rule for a long period; its small and ancient sidestreets, and the old buildings’ trademark arches are particularly reminiscent of Venice. Of the thirty-seven Greek churches, the most important are the city’s cathedral, the church dedicated to Our Lady of the Cave (η Παναγία Σπηλιώτισσα (hē Panagia Spēliōtissa)); Saint Spyridon church, wherein lies the preserved body of the patron saint of the island; and finally the suburban church of St Jason and St Sosipater, reputedly the oldest in the island, and named after the two saints probably the first to preach Christianity to the Corfiots.

The Municipal Theatre of Corfu (Greek: Δημοτικό Θέατρο Κέρκυρας) has been the main theatre and opera house in Corfu, Greece since 1902.[83] The theatre was the successor of Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo di Corfù which became the Corfu city hall. It was destroyed during a Luftwaffe aerial bombardment in 1943.

Corfiotes have a long history of hospitality to foreign residents and visitors, typified in the 20th century by Gerald Durrell’s childhood reminiscence My Family and Other Animals. The north east coast has largely been developed by a few British holiday companies, with large expensive holiday villas. Package holiday resorts exist on the north, east and southwest coasts.

At the other end of the island, the southern resort of Kavos also provides tourist facilities. St George South to the west boasts the largest sandy beach on the island coupled with a selection of all inclusive package hotels and traditional corfiot villas and flats. The Korission lake nature reserve also provides a stop over for European birds migrating south.

Up until the early 20th century, it was mainly visited by the European royals and elites, including Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany andEmpress Elisabeth of Austria; today it is also widely visited by middle class families (primarily from the UK, Scandinavia and Germany). With the advent of the jet airliner bringing these groups relatively affordable ‘package holidays’, Corfu was one of the primary destinations for this new form of mass tourism.[96] It is still popular with the global elite however, and in the island’s northeast the homeowners include members of the Rothschild family and Russian oligarchs.

The city of Corfu stands on the broad part of a peninsula, whose termination in the Venetian citadel (Greek: Παλαιό Φρούριο) is cut off from it by an artificial fosse formed in a natural gully, with a seawater moat at the bottom, that now serves as a marina and is called the Contrafossa. The old town, having grown within fortifications, where every metre of ground was precious, is a labyrinth of narrow streets paved with cobblestones, sometimes tortuous but colourful and clean. These streets are known as kantoúnia (Greek:καντούνια), and the older amongst them sometimes follow the gentle irregularities of the ground; while many are too narrow for vehicular traffic. A promenade rises by the seashore towards the bay of Garitsa (Γαρίτσα), together with an esplanade between the city and the citadel known as Spianada with the Liston (it) arcade (Greek: Λιστόν) to its west side, where restaurants and bistros abound.

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