Corfu is featured in many Greek mythology stories. In fact, it is said that it derived its Greek name Kerkyra from Korkyra, a nymph and daughter of the river Assopos. Her beauty caught the eyes of Poseidon, the god of the sea, who kidnapped her and brought her to the island, where she bore him a son, Phaiax. The island was named Phaikas, after the child, as Homer mentioned in the Odyssey. It was also in this island’s coasts that Ulysses, the most renowned Greek hero in the Trojan War, landed when his ship back to his hometown Ithaca was constantly besieged by tempests sent by Poseidon. Nausica, the daughter of Alcinoos the leader of the Phaecians, found Ulysses and took him back to the palace and took care of him. King Alcinoos ultimately gave him a ship to take him back to Ithaca.
The excavations during the modern times have shown no evidence that the mythological land of Phaikas was the same as Corfu. What it has discovered instead is that the island has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. The first Greek settlement on Corfu was established in the 8th century BC by the Eretrians from Evia.
The long history of Corfu which involved Roman administration, barbarian invasion, the Byzantine and Venetian Periods, Turkish invasion, French occupation, British colonization, and its eventual achievement of freedom, has produced numerous archaeological sites in the island. But being the 2nd largest of the seven Ionian Islands and the 7th in the whole of Greece, Corfu has so much more to offer. It has lush vegetation and crystal blue waters which make the list of "what to do in Corfu" longer.
Among the beaches of Corfu, the ones on the charming town of Kassiopi, 22 miles from the Corfu Town, stand out. Within its sands you can lounge while sipping your favorite cool beverage. At night, the local harbour is well-lighted by restaurants and entertainment areas. Although the modern world has caught up with Kassiopi, it has retained something of its fishing village past and its important role in ancient history. In fact, not to far away from the sandy beach with a grand view are the remains of a Byzantine fortress.
One does not have to go very far from the Corfu Town when reconstructing Corfu’s past. In fact, one has to look into Corfu Town itself to see the effect of several occupations of the island. The town itself is one of the most interesting in Greece. Due to occupation by Venetians, British, French and Normans, the buildings in the town show the influences of these cultures. For instance, the Theater of San Giacomo was constructed during the Italian Renaissance and diffuses a truly Italian atmosphere. The Liston, on the other hand, housing some of the finest restaurants and cafes in Corfu, is decidedly French. The British brought with them to Corfu their esteemed game – cricket – and Corfu is the only place in Corfu where this is played.
The cultivation, production and pressing of olives are a lucrative market in Corfu. There are over three million olive trees in the island, a result of the massive olive tree planting during the Venetian period.
Corfu has also attracted retirees who take advantage of the calm and relaxed atmosphere of the island. Even non-retirees are also considering moving to Corfu for the same reason. Take a look at our Corfu hotels guide, which will help you to choose a suitable accommodation.
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