Old Venetian Fortress of Corfu (Greece)
Ionian Islands See list of castles in Grecia
The ancient fortress of Corfu is one of the most impressive fortifications in Europe. It is the first thing to see while the ferry is approaching Corfu. It is located on the eastern side of the city, on a rocky peninsula that enters the sea. This fortress is called Old in contrast to the New Fortress (of San Marco), which was also built to protect the city from enemies and pirates.
This fortress was built by the Venetians in the 15th century on the site of an ancient Byzantine castle. To make it safer, they created an artificial pit and thus separated the fortress from the mainland. The fortress was connected to the ground by a wooden bridge. In 1819, the British replaced this bridge with the current via stable, which is 60 meters long and is located 15 meters above the moat, locally known as the counter.
The entrance to the fortress is available through Spianada, the famous square of Corfu, which is in fact the second largest square in Europe. The entrance is arched and has a Venetian symbol on it, carved in marble. After entering, there are two rooms on either side that now house the Byzantine Collection of Corfu and a gift shop. Within walking distance, there is another 22-meter ditch, today arid, which was used as an additional protection measure.
After the entrance, on the right, there is the small chapel of the Madonna del Carmine, where the condemned to death were transferred in chains. The huge building opposite was built by the British in the eighteenth century to house the barracks, but now houses the public library of Corfu, which houses rare manuscripts and editions.
the stone stairs lead to a high point, where there is a nice polygonal well from 1732. The highest point of the fortress needs about 20 minutes to climb up a tall clock tower. Historians believe that there was an ancient temple there. In addition, some medieval reports tell us that this peak, called Cittadella, was inhabited and had some houses, churches, water tanks and gunpowder warehouses.
In fact, in 1499, 1800 people lived in Citadella. Unfortunately, an explosion in 1718 destroyed much of it and the church of Agioi Apostoli. The view from there is incredible, as you can see the whole city and the immense Ionian Sea in front of you.
On the eastern side of the fortress, there is a plain, used today for cultural events in the summer. In this flat square, there is the church of San Giorgio, built by the Venetians as an ancient temple. This is actually the only church in Greece that was built in the Doric style. Above this square, there is a cafeteria. For more than four centuries, this fortress had been the symbol of Venetian occupation in the Ionian islands and today is one of the most impressive places in Corfu.