Corfu Town, the main city of Corfu island, has been shaped by numerous cultures and empires throughout its history, resulting in a diverse and captivating architectural landscape. The town’s historical layers include Venetian, British, French, and Greek influences. However, it was the Venetians who left the most significant mark on the town during their four centuries of rule.
The Venetians, who ruled Corfu from the 14th to the late 18th century, fortified the town with massive stone walls, which still stand today, encircling the historic center. The Old Fortress, known as Palaio Frourio, and the New Fortress, Neo Frourio, are prominent examples of Venetian military architecture and offer panoramic views of the town and the sea.
Strolling through the narrow cobblestone streets of Corfu Town’s old quarter, you’ll encounter elegant Venetian-style buildings adorned with arches, balconies, and intricate details. The Liston, a grand promenade, was designed by the French during their brief occupation of the island and is reminiscent of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.
The Old Town
The heart of Corfu Town is its Old Town, a labyrinth of alleys and squares that have retained their timeless charm. The Liston, designed during the French rule, is a beautiful arcaded street. Here you can sip coffee or dine in a Venetian-style café while watching the world go by. The Spianada, one of the largest town squares in Europe, hosts cultural events and cricket games, a nod to the British influence.
Just park your car on Spinada square, on the waterfront, and enter into the old city of Corfu. Get lost in the small streets full of colorful, and sometimes decrepit, buildings and just stop here or there to get a coffee, a drink or a gyros pita.
Take a drink under the arcades of Liston and watch the animation
Easter in Corfu is an amazing experience. The festivities last one week with some great events everywhere on the island. But the biggest entertainment is in Corfu Town. One of the big events is a competition of all the brass bands of the island. The parade starts on the Liston, towards the Museum of Asian Arts, runs along the sea side and then returns through the narrow streets of Corfu Town.
There are also religious processions and you may be surprised to see soldiers marching with Orthodox priests ! And then the strange tradition called “botides”. People throw from the balconies of the top floor of their building large clay jugs filled with water !
But even if it is not Easter time it is nice to sit at a cafe on the Liston and watch the bustle of the street. You may even see a match of cricket because Spinada square used to be a cricket ground !
The Esplanade, a vast green space, separates the Old Town from the Old Fortress. It’s indeed a popular spot for locals and visitors to take a leisurely stroll or relax in the shade of the trees.
Visit the old fortress and the Museum of Asian Art
The new fortress is impressive from the outside but is not really worth a visit. But it is nice to walk along the sea side, from the old fortress till the new fortress. Walking inside the new fortress is a nice way to spend the end of the afternoon when the sun is not too hot.
Corfu Town is also rich in culture, and its numerous museums provide insight into the island’s history. The Corfu Museum of Asian Art, housed in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, features a vast collection of Asian art and artifacts. The Archaeological Museum of Corfu showcases the island’s ancient past, with a particular focus on the ancient city of Korkyra.
The Church of St. Spyridon, the island’s patron saint, is a significant religious and cultural site. Visitors can view the saint’s relics and marvel at the beautiful Byzantine and Venetian-style frescoes that adorn the church’s interior.
Corfu town also offers several green spaces and parks, perfect for a leisurely walk or a moment of relaxation. The Boschetto Garden, near the Liston, is a charming park with a wide variety of plants, making it a peaceful oasis in the heart of the town.
Have Lunch at Nautilus and swim at Corfu Town Beach
Usually, if I land in the morning or if my plane leaves in the afternoon, I manage to grab a coffee or something to eat at Nautilus. It is a small bar and restaurant, close to a windmill. It is very close to the airport, only a 5 minutes drive. But it is indeed much better to wait there than inside the airport !
If you have time you can even take a last dip in the sea before flying back home ! There is no sand but you can access easily from the jetty to a crystal clear water.
Corfu Town: A Timeless Gem
Corfu Town is not just a historical site. it’s a living, breathing town where the past is intertwined with the present. Its vibrant atmosphere, stunning architecture, and diverse culture make it a destination that captivates the hearts of all who visit. Whether you’re exploring its historical sites, savoring local cuisine, or simply wandering through its charming streets, Corfu Town offers a unique and unforgettable experience. It’s a place where time seems to stand still. Allowing you to savor every moment in this enchanting corner of the Ionian Sea!