Another day in beautiful Corfu! This morning we are going to the Old Historic Quarter to do some shopping! Won’t you join me? Here’s the map, so let’s go.
Between Old Town Corfu and the Unesco World Heritage Site, the Venetian-era Old Fortress, we find the old cricket grounds of the Royal Palace of St Michael and St George. Built of yellow Maltese limestone, it was commissioned by the first British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, Sir Thomas Maitland. The foundation stone was laid on St George’s Day in 1819 and was completed in 1824. The palace, which was used as his residence, also served as the home of the Ionian Senate and the Order of St Micheal and St George. Designed in the Greek Revival style, it was the first building of that style to be built in Greece. After the union of Corfu with the Kingdom of Greece in 1864, the palace served as a Royal residence until WWII. The palace gardens, complete with old Venetian stone aquariums, and exotic trees and flowers, overlook the bay through old turrets and fortifications. The local sea baths are at the foot of the fortifications surrounding the gardens.
Today, the palace is home to the Museum of Asian Art of Corfu with a collection of 10,500 pieces and the Art Cafe, where you can sit and look out over the Ionian Sea. But, we don’t have time today to rest or bathe, we are on a shopping mission in old town!
The beautiful gardens, named the Esplanade, are on our way to our destination!
Ahhhh, I think we are getting closer! There is a McDonald’s!
With one of those huge greek urns in the front garden that I would like…………….in my garden……..
Now this must be the start of Old Town! Cobblestone alleyways between pastel-colored buildings are home to lots of overhead wiring too! The walkways are packed, but here we go!
Be sure to look up and down………..
The 300-year-old Saint Spyridon Church is a Greek Orthodox church located in Old Town Corfu. It is a single nave basilica and its bell tower is the highest in the Ionian Islands. Spyridon is the patron saint of potters because he converted a pagan to Christianity by using a pot shard to illustrate how one single piece of pottery could be made of three unique entities, (fire, water and clay) a metaphor for the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. After his death, his body was disinterred and taken to Constantinople, where his relics were found incorrupt and contained a sprig of basil, the “royal plant,” and was taken as a sign of divine confirmation of his holiness. In 1493, when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, his relics were removed again, this time to Corfu, where they still remain. Today, he is known as the “Keeper of the City,” for the miracle of expelling the plague from the island. On Palm Sunday his relics are paraded through the streets of Corfu. Everyday, you can offer a prayer and not even enter the church!
Ahh….. here we are at the shops………..featuring the liqueurs, olives, and baklava……… I don’t need the liqueurs, but the bottles are unique in all shapes and sizes. I may buy a bottle or two for gifts, just for the bottles you know. Yeah, right!
Lots of fancy bottles to choose from…………
from a tiny tucked away shop………
and then there are the sponge shops………
Loved the sponges………
and the vegetable and fruit market………..
and a nice quiet plaza off the beaten path…….
Maybe we need a break now…….. This looks like a good place……
One last look at the architecture of Corfu………before we check out the Old Venetian Fortress.
Over the years the fort was used to protect the Old Town of Corfu from marauders. During WWII the Nazis imprisoned the Jews of Corfu prior to their deportation from the island. Many Jews escaped to the countryside, but most fearing for their families went on the morning of June 8th, 1944 to the fort as they were told. They were forced to hand over their money, jewelry and keys to their properties and were led to a prison inside the fortress. After days at the prison under harsh treatment and few amenities, they were transported to the Birkenau extermination camp. Only 120 people survived the camps.
Today, this World Heritage Site houses the Public Library of Corfu in one of the old British barracks, where various types of art and exhibits are featured. The Fortress was also the location of a scene from a James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only, where the Mercedes of the evil adversary, Emile Locque, gets pushed off the cliff by Bond. Who knew?
Our last look out to sea before we head back to the ship………….
My reward at the end of the long, hot day on the island of Corfu……..steak tartar with caviar!
See you next in Taormina, Sicily! What will we see there? The Godfather perhaps?