Walking Tour of Corfu Town, Greece
Corfu is one of Greece’s Ionian Islands, located just west of the mainland, in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Albania. It was mentioned by Homer, ancient Greece’s most famous writer/historian, in his epic, The Odyssey, as the place in which Odysseus found refuge after his encounter with Calypso. The island itself is lovely and Corfu Town is a pleasant-to-walk, medieval metropolis whose architecture combines many cultural influences, since the island was another of the crossroads between East and West. There are many Venetian influences because of its proximity to northeaster Italy.
My walk begins at The Liston, an elegant series of cafes, beneath Georgian residences, between Kapodistriou and Eleftherias Streets, near the Esplanade, a lovely plaza/park at the eastern end of town. The Liston is a wonderful place to sit, relax, and people-watch, but save these activities for later, after your walk.
First, explore the Esplanade, a favorite gathering place for residents and tourists. It has several elements which should be at least checked out. There is a Victorian bandstand, a statue of Modern Greece’s first president, and the Maitland Rotunda.
Now, walk eastward, over the moat, to visit the Old Fortress, which was constructed in the mid-1500’s and once housed all the town’s residents. There are great views from the top of the ruins. Also on the grounds is the Church of St George, a British addition.
Return to the mainland and walk to the right, along the Esplanade, past the Statue of Count Schulenberg, an Austrian mercenary who became a local hero during the Turkish siege of the town in 1716.
At the northern end of the Esplanade is the Palace of St Michael and St George, a grand residence which now houses a museum. Now, turn right, from the museum entrance, to reach Kapodistriou Street. Make a brief detour by turning right, to see the Corfu Reading Society, which contains the Ionian Islands’ archives in a beautiful building.
Reverse direction and walk a short distance on Kapodistriou Street to Spyridonos Street, and turn right. Ahead, on your left, is Agios Spyridou. The church, with its tall, distinctive, red-domed bell tower, is dedicated to the patron saint of the island (he is actually buried to the right of the altar). The town landmark dates to 1596.
Continue west on Spyridonos, and then turn left on M. Theotaki, which leads to a beautiful square, called Plateia Dimarchieou, where you will find Corfu’s Town Hall, an elegant Venetian structure, and also Agios Iakovos, the Catholic cathedral.
Exit the square to the southwest, on Voulganeos Street and turn right on Schulenberg, which leads to the town’s marketplace, along the moat of the New Fortress, begun by the Venetians only a few years after the construction of the Old Fortress.
Continue to the north, along the side of the fortress, toward the port, and turn right on Zavitsianou Street. When you reach the Solomos Museum, turn right to get to the Mitropoli, the town’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the Cave. From the cathedral, work your way east, through the labyrinth of streets. An occasional view St Spyridon’s bell tower will keep you oriented. Eventually, you will reach Kapodistriou Street and the general area of the Liston. You have now earned an opportunity to sit and relax.