Corfu is one of the most beautiful and popular islands in Greece, attracting millions of visitors every year. But beyond its stunning beaches and natural landscapes, Corfu also has a rich and fascinating history that is reflected in its UNESCO-listed Old Town. The Old Town of Corfu is a cultural site that showcases the influence of various civilizations and cultures that have shaped the island over the centuries. From the ancient Greeks and Romans, to the Byzantines and Venetians, to the French and British, Corfu has been a crossroads of the Mediterranean and a melting pot of styles and traditions. In this blog post, we will guide you through some of the highlights of the Old Town of Corfu and give you some tips on how to explore its Venetian architecture and narrow streets.
What makes the Old Town of Corfu a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
The Old Town of Corfu was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007, as an outstanding example of a fortified Mediterranean port that has preserved its integrity and authenticity over time. The Old Town is located on a strategic position at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, and has its roots in the 8th century BC. It was fortified by the Venetians in the 15th century, who built two impressive castles, the Old Citadel and the New Fort, to defend it from the Ottoman attacks. The fortifications were later modified by the French and the British, who also left their mark on the urban fabric and the public buildings of the town. The Old Town of Corfu is the only such large area in Greece to have retained almost intact its historical urban network, with buildings dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The town is filled with monuments and museums, such as the Archaeological Museum, Mon Repos & Achilleion Palace, Casa Parlante and the Museum of Asian Art. The town also has a distinctive neo-classical character, influenced by both Italian and French styles. The Old Town of Corfu is a living testimony of the cultural diversity and exchange that have shaped the island’s identity.
How to get to the Old Town of Corfu?
The Old Town of Corfu is easily accessible from any part of the island, as it is located near the main port and airport. You can reach it by bus, taxi or car, or even by boat if you are coming from another island or mainland Greece. The Old Town is mostly pedestrianized, so you will have to park your vehicle outside the walls or at designated parking areas. You can also rent a bike or a scooter to explore the town more easily. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour or a hop-on hop-off bus that will take you to the main attractions of the town.
What to see in the Old Town of Corfu?
The Old Town of Corfu has so much to offer that you will need at least a day or two to see it all. Here are some of the must-see sights that you should not miss:
- The Old Citadel: This is the oldest part of the town, built on a rocky peninsula that juts out into the sea. It was originally an ancient acropolis, then a Byzantine fortress, then a Venetian citadel that was considered impregnable. It has three gates, two bastions, several towers and a moat. Inside, you can visit the Byzantine Museum, which houses a collection of icons and frescoes; the Church of St. George, which resembles a Doric temple; and the British Cemetery, where many British soldiers and officials are buried.
- The New Fort: This is another impressive fortification that was built by the Venetians in the 16th century on a hill overlooking the town. It has two levels, connected by tunnels and staircases. It has several chambers, galleries and courtyards that house various exhibitions and events. You can also enjoy panoramic views of the town and the sea from its ramparts.
- The Liston: This is one of the most iconic landmarks of Corfu, a long arcade that runs along one side of Spianada Square, which is one of