Kerkyra, the East

The road from inland to the sea, which lies along the slope of the mountainous area of northeast Kerkyra, passes through Áno Korakiána village. During our walk on the village among picturesque houses that stand by terraces, we met an old Church of Archangel Michael and a museum of local sculptor.

Click the images to enlarge them.

The steep and long serpentine road rises from here to Sokráki village, which has only one traffic lane for both ways. Thankfully, during our lift, we met in the opposite direction only one motorcyclist. It would be sufficiently hardly to pass one another with a car, even such small as ours.

One more serpentine, the same steep and long, passes to the east near the sea between Pirgí and Spartílas villages. This is a basic way to Pantokrator and the road is wide; furthermore, from the top there is opened a remarkable view of east coast of the island and the nearest Ipsos beach.

Ípsos is a strip of pebble coast, which divided by breakwaters and lies along a busy road. Across the road from the beach there is a row of cafe, bars, minimarkets. In general, it is a typical and noisy summer resort.

We continue our way to the south, past the village Káto Korakiána, noted by well preserved houses of local nobility, past Dassía resort, in Dzavrós place we join the general flow of cars that run to the capital.

Let us turn to the left to the large settlement Gouviá and to the bay of similar name. On the northern shore of the bay, in Línmi village, a small islet with an isthmus comes out in the sea, here stands the white Ipapantí (Meeting) church.

In Gouvia itself next to the sea there are ruins of the old Venetian shipyard.

In the southern part of the bay, at Kontókali settlement, is situated the port for boats and small yachts - Gouvia Marina. Small 18-seater hydroplanes fly from there for the survey excursions around the island at a low altitude, and for the regular trips to other islands of Ionian archipelago.

Further, moving to the south, we drive up to the bifurcation. The road to the right leads along the wide street, which is surrounded by large offices and shops, to the center part of Kérkyra, the capital of the island.

Choosing the left turn, we reach the New Port, where moor large ships; I traveled to the Paksi and Antipaksi tour from here. Further this road goes to Spiliá Square that is located beside the Old Port. In the square there is a paid parking place; further the way come to nothing more than an only narrow passage that lie on by-streets of the Old Town.

Here the walls of the New Fortress rise above the city; it was built in XVI century and is one of two Venetian fortresses of the city. Just after the entrance (4 Euros), a gently sloping ascent along the walls begins. The small museum of ceramics is located in the premises of fortress. A narrow iron stairs leads to the apex, to the level of upper loophole, from the upper area there is opened a remarkable panoramic view of the Old Town and one more, the Old Fortress of Kerkyra.

All-round panorama from the New Fortress of Kerkyra

Below, among 3-5-story houses, the narrow pedestrian by-streets of the Old Town lie. Some houses by their look proudly show their antiquity: a very long ago fallen off plaster is not intended to be replaced, the half destroyed house is not intended to be demolished, but it will retain inhabitants until the end in the intact part. In spite of certain neglect, all this organically fit into the urban colour; I imagine, how unnaturally these houses would appear after repair, newly painted.

However, the main facades, which face the streets with the tourist shops, the main square of the city and the embankment, are maintained in good condition. This also concerns numerous churches, they are here on every street corner, and most of them are opened. Besides Orthodox churches, there are several Catholic, and in the Jewish quarter (Evraikí or Ovriakí, next to the new fortress) - a synagogue.

Above the Old Town rises the belfry of Saint Spiridon - the main Church of the main Saint of Kerkyra. Four open doors of the not prominent painted by pink building of church face the busy by-streets of tourist district in the very center of Old Town. There is as much modestly outside, as there is rich ornamentation of the church inside. There are wall paintings, icons, and rows of high wooden armchairs. Next to the sanctuary to the right there is a small room, where the church people, local and tourists, constantly enter in order to kiss the relics of Saint Spiridon. Once we were there during the service. People with the fascinating sounds of priest voice fill up the church, which is not empty at the rest of the time.

Next and a little south is located the Square of the Heroes of Cypriot War with the Banknote Museum in the building of bank (it is open in summer on weekdays from 10 till 14) and with two churches (John the Precurser and Panagía Xénon). Further to the south is located the Square of M. Theotokis with the house of the City Council and the Catholic Church of Saints Jacob and Christopher. On the north of the Old Town, near Kampiélo district, in the building of Panagía Antivouniótissa church is located the Byzantine Museum. I mention also some more churches, which we visited: Panagía Spileótissa with a star above the entrance, of Mother of God and John the Merciful, Catholic Panagía Tenédou near the New Fortress.

It is surprising the difference between the noisy tourist zone with the various shops, and other streets, the enclosed courts, which are located literally round the corner, quiet and practically empty of people, with the leisurely conversation of women on the balcony, with the numerous linen cords, which lengthened between the houses at different levels. So sometimes it was necessary to go around the objects of local clothing hanging before you. It is surprising also the property of the overwhelming majority of tourists to walk only along those streets, where there are souvenir shops.

The Old Town ends in the east with the pedestrian-restaurant Listón Street and with the large Spianáda (Esplanade) Square. The northern part of the square is occupied with a large parking area and a cricket court; the southern part is strolling, with the fountain, monuments, paths and benches.

From the north the square is limited by the Palace of Saints Michael and George, there is the Museum of Asian Art now here. To each sides of the palace are attached the arches, through one of them, left one, the road passes, which leads from airport and city center to the north. To the right of palace Panagía Mandrakína church is located.

To the east from Spianada, across the road, there is a small park, and after it - the moat with the canal, which separates the Old Venetian Fortress built in XII century. After paying 4 Euros, we pass along the bridge over the moat into the gates in the wall. The small museum with Byzantine icons is located to the right after gates. Further we pass into the arch in the building of library and find ourselves in the fortress proper.

To the right over the vacant land there is the Church of Saint George, built in the XIX century in neoclassic style. By the way, this is a very popular style in these places; all buildings inside and around Spianada are executed in it. The Musical Department of Ionic University is located at the other side of the fortress that confirms the sounds being heard from there. Further, there is a vacant land again. Below on the coast the yacht club with a moorage and a small beach of large pebbles are located. We did not find a way to the upper part of the fortress, although we did not search for it especially, since the time came to a closing.

To the south from the Old Fortress along Garítsa Bay passes a long embankment, at its beginning are located the monument of Kapodistrias and the Archaeological Museum.

By the way, it is possible to take one ticket for the visits of the Archaeological Museum, the Old Fortress, the Byzantine Museum and the Museum of Asian Art for 8 Euros. They all open in summer daily except Monday from 8.30 till 19.30. Besides above-listed, there are museums of Kapodistrias and Solomos in the city.

The embankment ends with a windmill without wings and with a breakwater with a lighthouse at the end. This is the favorite place for bathing of local pensioners. However, it is possible to bathe in many places of the city, there are equipped beaches somewhere.

Here in the depth of the apartment block is located the Church of the Saints Jason and Sosipater of XI century. It is a great pity, but we have learned about this only after the journey…

All-round panorama from the breakwater, Kerkyra

Further to the south the fenced around park Paleópolis - Mon Repos is located. The tumbledown structure of the basilica, built by bishop Iovian in the V century, is located across the road of the entrance into the park. The park is filled with various vegetation and refreshing coolness, especially urgent during hot day. The Monastery of Saint Euphemia hid behind the hedge. A little further, along the path there is the small palace Mon Repos. Formerly it was a summer residence of Greek kings, now here is the museum, where the archaeological finds, assembled from the adjacent places are collected. Further the path leads to the heap of the stone blocks, partly stowed, partly scattered. This is the temple of Hera (Heraeum) of VII - IV century B.C. Still further there are the ruins of the Doric temple of Artemis.

Moving further southwards, we come to Kanóni settlement. The peninsula, formed by Chalikiopoúlou Gulf, ends here. From the coast there rises the hill, from height of which is opened the most famous view of the island, its card. It is possible to drive up both to the foot of hill and to its apex. There is the observation point up above with the restaurant and the souvenir shops.

Below on the small islet, which connected with the coast with concrete isthmus, the picturesque structures of Vlahérna Convent with the high cypress in the middle are located. There is a small store inside the convent.

Further in the sea there is one more islet a little bigger, Pontikoníssi (mouse island), there is a monastery too there, but its construction is hidden among the trees. It is possible to reach Pontikonissi by boat, which is moored at the isthmus to Vlaherna.

One more isthmus leads from Kanoni to the opposite shore of the gulf, though, it is not intended for motor-car transport; therefore, in order to pass to the other side, it is necessary to travel around the gulf.

The runway of airfield, which is one more attraction of this place, stretches along the coast of the gulf. It is amazing to observe takeoff or landing either from the observation point, when there is visible entire process or from below, standing on the isthmus, when an aircraft fly at the low altitude directly overhead.

We go round the gulf and the airfield. Our next stop is the Achíllion Palace, situated on the slope of mountain in Gastoúri village. It is possible to arrive there by two ways: either to descend on the serpentine road from above - this is the basic route, guided by road signs; or to rise from the road, which goes on the slope along the sea, though, in this case it is necessary to leave a car a little before the purpose, the further passage upward is forbidden.

After paying 7 Euros for the entrance, we find ourselves before the small, but picturesque palace, buried in verdure, built by Austrian empress Elizabeth (Sissi) in 1889-1891. There are several sculptures before the entrance, including of empress herself.

Only the ground floor is accessible inside for the sightseeing: a central hall with luxurious stairs and side rooms. There are pictures, bas-reliefs, statues, and vases everywhere. Thematic is various, from the Ancient Greek myths to the family portraits and the German warships. The nearby room to the right is transformed into the chapel with the icon of Mother of God with Baby Jesus and the ceiling painted with biblical subject.

The rear court is especially interesting. There are rows of Muses' statues of and philosophers' busts along the walls. There is a small pond with water lilies and uncommon sculptures. Further, there is a dying Achilles with the arrow in his heel. Still further, there stands full-length Achilles of gigantic size. An observation point with the view towards the capital is also here.

I have to note for information that we planned also to visit adjacent villages: Kinopiástes, Kastelláni, Ágios Prokópios. However, it did not take place because of absence of both-way traffic on the previously mentioned road. In Kinopiastes village are located the Olive Museum and the famous tavern "Trípas", where many royal persons, presidents, film stars stayed.

We move further southwards along the slope of the east coast. We pass Benítses - a typical resort with pebble beaches. The second floor of a two-story house by the road occupies the Shell Museum (4 Euros). The only hall is filled by the glass stands, which are stuffed with cockleshells, and with stuffed bodies (or imitations) of various fishes, crabs, cancers, molluscs and other sea creatures. At the entrance on the wall there hang fish larger, sharks for example. The stalls with cockleshells are set out for sale along the wall.

We go further and leave behind Ágios Ioánnis, Moraítika villages. In the mouth of Messongí river there is a settlement of the same name with the populous sandy beach.


Attribution-No Derivative Works (CC-BY-ND) by Andrey K.