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corfu island

Culture and Insights: A Corfu guide by Angsana Corfu Resort

The charm and the mystery of being a Corfiot - some facts that dazzle

Nisos Corfu, with its evergreen landscapes of crystal clear turquoise waters, is a land of extraordinary beauty in the Ionian sea of Greece. Occupied by the Venetians, French and the English in the 19th century, Corfu heritage is enriched by beautiful historic architecture, royal footprints and unique recipes, with an emphasis on music and the arts and a love for everything Asian. Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek), unlike the rest of Greece, never fell under the Ottoman oppression. Due to the successive dominations of the Venetians, the French and the British over the centuries, the island has primarily become part of the Western rather the Levantine world. Culture that prevailed and was embedded in the architecture and lifestyle of the main town resulted in a number of achievements surpassing time and place: it was here that the first Greek University (the Ionian Academy), the first Philharmonic Orchestra and the First School of Fine Arts were founded.

Take a stroll at Spianada Square and be delighted by its open air ambience and infinite layout. It is indeed the biggest square in Greece, and the biggest in the Balkans. The word “Spianada” originates from the Italian word “spianare”, which means flatten, and is connected with the Venetian’s decision to improve the island’s defense by demolishing the surrounding houses (approximately 2,500 houses).

Feel like a royal in Corfu as you walk the path of the King and Queens who once lived on Corfu island. Liston, the road of aristocrats, was built in 1807 by the French imperial commissioner Mathieu de Lesseps, who was inspired by the Rue de Rivoli of Paris. Liston was for many years accessible only to the island’s aristocrats. Only those whose name was written in the Libro D’oro, the golden list of royal names (Italian: “The Golden Book”) had access to the area. Liston means "on the list" - List-on. Write your name on the list of those who strolled here throughout the years.

Mon Repos was built as a summer residence for the British Lord High Commissioner of the United States of the Ionian Islands, Frederick Adam, and his second wife (a Corfiot), Diamantina “Nina” Palatino, in 1828–1831. After the union with Greece in 1864, the villa was granted to King George I of the Hellenes as a summer residence; he renamed it “Mon Repos” (French for “My Rest”). Prince Philip was also born on there, on June 10, 1921.

Achilleion Palace was built under the order of Empress Elizabeth of Austria, the famed Empress Sissy. It is also one of the most famous royal mansions in Europe and the most important architectural landmark in Corfu, the famous backdrop of the casino scene of the James Bond film, "For Your Eyes Only" filmed back in 1981.

The name Corfu originates from the myth of Korkyra, the island of the Phaeacians. The name Corfù, an Italian version of the Byzantine Κορυφώ (Koryphō), meaning "city of the peaks", derives from the Byzantine Greek Κορυφαί (Koryphai) (crests or peaks), denoting the two peaks of Palaio Frourio. The name is also connected with Greek mythology.

Kumquat is the original citrus tree uniquely flourishing on Corfu island, having grown to a trademark fruit of Corfu island. Kumquats were brought to Corfu by the British botanist Sidney Merlin in 1860, originating from the Far East trades between China and Japan. It has been cultivated extensively for almost a century in Corfu. Kumquat is the vibrant little gem of the citrus family. In Chinese, it means "golden orange". It can be eaten with the skin and its flavour is bittersweet. It has been used in all local delicacies, from sweets to liqueurs, citrusy recipes and exotic cocktails.

Scheria is a mythical place in ancient Greek mythology that was the home of the legendary and mysterious Phaeacians, who were known to be masters of the seas. The first reference to this place is found in Homer’s Odyssey. The island of the Phaeacians was the last destination of Odysseus before arriving to Ithaca. Corfu is one island close to Ithaca and it matches the description of Scheria in the Odyssey.

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