Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Old Town of Corfu

The Old Town of Corfu, on the Island of Corfu off the western coasts of Albania and Greece, is located in a strategic position at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, and has its roots in the 8th century BC. The three forts of the town, designed by renowned Venetian engineers, were used for four centuries to defend the maritime trading interests of the Republic of Venice against the Ottoman Empire. In the course of time, the forts were repaired and partly rebuilt several times, more recently under British rule in the 19th century. The mainly neoclassical housing stock of the Old Town is partly from the Venetian period, partly of later construction, notably the 19th century. As a fortified Mediterranean port, Corfu’s urban and port ensemble is notable for its high level of integrity and authenticity.

Corfu town is the capital and main port of the island of Corfu and is one of the most beautiful, most impressive and most interesting cities of Greece. It is the largest town of the Ionian Islands and was built between two fortresses during the Venetian rule. Located in the southern side of the Esplanade Square, the Ionian Academy was founded in 1808 by Ioannis Kapodistrias, who was the first Governor of the new Greek Independent State, and was the first University of Greece.

During the Venetian occupation, the Town Hall Square was the meeting place of the nobles. In 1720, it was used as a lyrical theatre that was called Theatre of San Giacomo, taking its name from the Catholic Church of St. James and St. Christopher. The architecture of Corfu town is strongly influenced by the Sicilians, the Venetians, the French and the British that occupied the island.

The town gathers a population of about 30,000 inhabitants; this well-organised town is full of elegant buildings, beautiful mansions, superb palaces and magnificent monuments succeeding one another and surrounded by narrow stone-paved streets with stone steps, large beautiful French-designed squares with trees and flowers, impressive and well-preserved Venetian castles and lovely Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches. The unique beauty, charm, character and atmosphere of the Old Town of Corfu reminds the visitor of other glamorous towns such as Naples, taking the visitor back to another time and place.

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