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The Story of Varkarola Musicians, dancers, cheerleaders, divers, bands, fireworks, and natural beautiful scenery, make a spectacular setting for Odysseus arrival in Palaioakastritsa

Come and live your myth.

Odysseus leaves Calypso’s island on a single raft and begins his long journey back to his home, Ithaca. While sailing, he meets God of the Sea, Poseidon, who in order to take revenge for his son’s blinding by Odysseus (cyclops Polyphemus), throws a terrible storm and hits Odysseus raft which shipwrecked near the coast of Palaiokastritsa.

Meanwhile beautiful Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous, after Athena’s exhortation, goes to the very same coast with her friends and servants where they swim, do laundry and play the ball shouting and singing. Odysseus, exhausted and sea stormed takes the decision and reveals himself, asking for help.

Nausicaa, charmed by his looks, gives him shelter and invites him back to the palace to meet her father. Alcinous welcomes Odysseus as a hero, offering him the well known local hospitality. After reciting Odysseus adventures in the Trojan War, Alcinous is so impressed with him that asks him to marry his daughter Nausicaa!

But Odysseus, faithful to Penelope, kindly rejected Alcinous proposal and asked the king to help him return to his home. His wife Penelope was back home waiting almost 20 years for him to return. Alcinous accepted his will and gave him a ship full of his citizens to get him back to Ithaca.


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1. Corfu Town Corfu

town is a beautiful area, split into old and the new parts. It is flush with elegant mansions and beautiful palaces from its colonial days being owned by France and Britain. It appears less a Greek town and more an Italian one along the lines of Sorrento or Naples. A great place to get a feel of the town is the square of the Esplanade, also known as Spianada which was planned by the French and is surrounded by beautiful buildings an old Venetian fortress and dotted with trees. If you get the chance, visit the Liston building built during the French occupation and modelled on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Inside it has fabulous restaurants and cafes, some say the best in Greece.

2. The Achillion Palace

The Achillion Palace is found in the picturesque village of Gastouri. This beautiful palace was built in 1890 exclusively for Elizabeth the Empress of Austria. The palace used to serve as her summer retreat. Unfortunately, she passed away in a rather tragic manner when she was assassinated in 1898 in Geneva. The palace was left empty for nearly ten years when it was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The palace looks down onto the coast and the jetty from where the Kaiser would take his pleasure cruises. The Palace is not only renowned for its architecture; the impeccably landscaped palace garden is beautiful too. For UK tourists it has interest in being the birthplace of Prince Phillip. The James Bond movie, ‘For Your Eyes Only’ was filmed here.

3. Mirtiotissa Beach

Corfu has a lot of lovely beaches but a favourite of regular visitors is Mirtiotissa. Its charm is in its inaccessibility. It’s isolated and accessed by a steep path meaning that few venture down to the beach. To get there you need to walk for about 45 minutes from Pelekas village. The walk itself is beautiful, crossing olive groves on the way. The last half mile is what puts most people off being a steep dusty path. Geographically, the beach is very interesting as the winter tides and storms clear away the previous year’s entire beach whilst the spring tides bring fresh sand to replace it. The beach is enclosed by cliffs covered in pine, myrtle and thyme bushes. Some little streams trickle down to the beach providing a cool freshwater shower. There is little natural shade on the beach and it has the sun most of the day. 

4. Paleokastritsa

One of Corfu’s most famous locations Paleokastritsa is part beach resort and part monastic community which makes for a bizarre and unlikely combination. Tourism hasn’t really hit here so the area is relatively unspoilt. Panagia Theotokos Monastery was originally founded in 1225 but the current buildings date to the early 1700s. There is a small museum, mostly filled with religious articles and books as well as a skeleton of a fabled sea monster! The main attraction here is Paleokastritsa’s clean sandy beach with incredibly clear, warm water, ideal for swimming. At each end of the beach are boats offering excursions to the nearby caves and grottos.

5. Aqualand

You need to know about Aqualand because if you don’t and your children find out first you could be in trouble! It’s considered as one of the best water parks in Europe and is situated 7km outside of Corfu Town but is easy to reach from anywhere on the island. The park is huge and covers an area of over 70,000 square metres with free parking. The slides are innovative and range from the gentle to the downright petrifying.

6. The Palaio Frourio (Old Fort)

The Old Fort sits on a rocky island on the east side of Corfu Town. There’s been a fort of kinds here since the 6th century although most of what’s there now is Venetian and added to and repaired by the British. The site was initially a peninsula but the inventive and distrusting Venetians dug a moat to convert it into an island for greater security. Due to the fortifications of the island, Corfu never fell to the Turks, despite many attempts. The fort and its small museum are interesting for what they add to Corfiot history and the art gallery has paintings from the first century, some of the oldest remaining on the planet!

7. Greek Music

Dancing and Folklore Many restaurants and hotels all over Greece put on shows for tourists but many question their authenticity. Whilst the same could be said for Corfu, many of the restaurants do try to supply the tourist with a more traditional performance and in many cases they are taught a lot of Greek history and culture through stories told by the performers. These take place in tavernas all over Corfu and are intriguing to say the least. It makes a refreshing change to come away from a meal having learnt something new.

8. Mouse Island

This is the iconic picture of Corfu. Open any travel guide or holiday brochure and there will be a picture of Mouse Island or Pontikonisi. It’s a very small island dotted with trees and stands only two metres above the water. Pontikonisi is home of the monastery of Pantokrator it is the white stone staircase of the monastery that when viewed from afar gives the impression of a mouse’s tail which gave the island its name.

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With the passage of time the island may have changed, but we can still feel the spirit of a distant glorious past . Its rich multi-cultural heritage, its historic monuments, its stunning natural landscape, its crystal clear seas, and its excellent weather all year round explain why Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations weaving a powerful spell on its visitors. Corfu (Kérkyra), 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. Their culture wielded strong influence in the city: it was here that the first Greek University (the Ionian Academy), the first Philharmonic Orchestra and the First School of Fine Arts were founded.

In the beautifully preserved Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO world heritage site, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical “repertoire” came to be successfully applied to local artistic traditions. Palaces, fortresses, austere public buildings of the Venetian rule uniquely blend with lines of drying washing in tiny alleyways and small secluded squares. Strolling through a complex of narrow cobbled streets with stairways and vaulted passages, the so-called “kantoúnia”, will make you feel as if you’ve travelled to Genoa or Naples. Discover the most beautiful spots in the city of Corfu walking through

: • Spianáda, the largest square in the Balkans, is the centre of the city, adorned with 19th-century remarkable works of French architecture. Here you can watch cricket games, or attend in musical concerts organised throughout the year.

• Listón, the city’s trademark, where the aristocrats used to enjoy their evening promenades. The characteristic arcades form the most romantic background setting for a welcome cup of coffee at one of the town’s cosy cafés.

• The smart suburbs: Mandoúki, Garitsa and Sarókos. The most important city’s attractions bear eloquent witness to its rich history:

• The impressive 15th century Old Fortress, as well as the New Fortress. • The Saint Michael and George Palace at the northern part of Spianáda, built during the British occupation.

• A considerable number of churches.

The most imposing one is the city’s Cathedral, the Church of St. Spyridon, the island’s patron Saint, whose relics are kept here. The church’s immensely tall bell tower certainly reminds us of that of San Giorgio dei Greci in Venice. Four processions are held every year during which the body of Saint Spyridon is carried around the streets of the city (on Palm and Easter Sunday, on April 11th and the first Sunday in November). All the philharmonic bands of the city accompany the processions creating a remarkable awe-inspiring spectacle. Call in at the city’s fascinating museums:

• The Museum of Asian Art: Being the only one of its kind, it was founded in 1927 after the donation of 10.500 items by Gregorios Manos. Until 1974 it was a Chinese and Japanese Art museum, but it was then enriched with other private collections.It is housed in Saint Michael and George Palace. • Archaeological Museum: Here you can admire important finds from the temple of Artemis and excavation finds from the ancient city of Corfu.

• Byzantine Museum: It is housed in the Church of the Virgin Mary Antivouniotissa and houses an interesting collection of icons and ecclesiastic items from the 15th to the 19th century.

• The Banknote Museum showcases a collection of Greek coinage from 1822 to the present day.


• Dionysios Solomos Museum: The national Poet of Greece left Zakynthos and moved to Corfu, important intellectual centre of the Ionian islands in those years. Solomos lived in a state of self-imposed isolation, and Corfu offered him the ideal environment to work on his studies in poetry. Today his house hosts a museum dedicated to his honour.

These five sites located around the city of Corfu used to be the aristocracy’s favourites:

• Mon Repos Palace was built by the British Commissioner Adams as a gift to his Corfiot wife. It is a small but beautiful palace with colonial elements, which today operates as a museum. In this luxurious dwelling, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Elisabeth the Second, was born in 1921. The park around the palace is ideal for long romantic walks.

• Kanóni (meaning canon) offers from its circular terrace an amazing view across the island of Pontikoníssi (meaning Mouse Island), one of the most photographed spots of Corfu! According to the legend, this rocky islet was a Phaeacian ship that was turned into stone.

• Paleópolis (at Mono Repos estate) stands where the Agora of the ancient city of Corfu was located. Admire the remains of several public buildings erected there along with sanctuaries, workshops and residencies.

• Achilleion is a fairy palace built among cypresses and myrtles by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who wished to escape from the Austrian court. Elisabeth truly fell in love with the island, and she dedicated this palace to Achilles as she cherished the belief that he represented the very soul and fairness of Greece.

The island where Ulysses met Princess Nausicaa in one of Homer’s Odyssey most celebrated scenes is a magical destination all year long: colourful music events, culinary feasts, religious festivals, carnival celebrations –known for their deep Venetian influences–, and the most joyful Easter in Greece form an exquisite mosaic of experiences. Edward Lear vividly describes the magic of Corfu: “Anything like the splendour of olive-groves and orange-gardens, the blue of the sky, the violet of the mountain, rising from peacock-wing-hued sea and tipped with lines of silver snow, can hardly be imagined […]”. And don’t leave before you pay a visit to the nearby islands of Paxi and Antipaxi!