North Corfu

North Corfu Island


Hotel Corfu Secret - North Corfu

Palaiokastritsa is one of the most picturesque and busiest places on Corfu, and has been a famous resort area since the period of British rule. The village is spread around six little bays (Ambelaki, Agios (Ayios) Petros, Agios (Ayios) Spyridon, Alipa, Platakia, Ayia Triada) all of which have sandy beaches and caves and are backed by verdant hills covered with olive trees. The beaches of Palaiokastritsa are very popular with bathers, who when not engaging in the sea sports available there can try fresh lobster - for which the area is famous - at one of the numerous little taverns. Caiques sail from these bays to a number of other nearby coves which are not accessible by land.

Corfu - PaleokastritsaIn the sea are the islets of Skeloudi and Kolovri; a story connected with Kolovri tells us that it was the ship of some Algerian pirates which was turned to stone by divine intervention to prevent the pirates from attacking the monastery of Palaiokastritsa. Some archaeologists believe that the city of the Phaeacians and the palace of Alcinous were actually somewhere near Palaiokastritsa. Their views are not, however, generally accepted. According to these scholars, the acropolis of Scheria would have been on the hill now occupied by the monastery of Our Lady the Mother of God. The monastery was founded in 1228, but the build­ings we see today date from no earlier than the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The arched courtyard is very beautiful, as is the view out over the bays of Palaiokastritsa. The monastery church was built in 1722 and is a single-aisled basilica. It has an interesting collection of icons dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. More notable Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, together with vestments, sacred books and holy vessels, are housed in the little monastery museum. Not far from Palaiokastritsa (4 km.) is the village of Lakones, where the spot called Bella Vista has a panoramic view of the deeply indented coast around Palaiokastritsa. The road continues to the village of Krini, from which a path leads in 3 km. to the superb fortress of Angelokastro.

Corfu - AngelokastroAngelokastro, one of the few Byzantine castles of Corfu, was built in the thirteenth century by Michael I Angelus Ducas, ruler of the Despotate of Epirus, to protect Corfu against the incursions of pirates. Not much has survived of the buildings inside the castle, but the climb up to the top of the precipitous hill on which it stands is worth the effort for the incredible view out to sea and east towards Corfu town. The road between Palaiokastritsa and Corfu town - a smooth run of some 25 km. - was built by the British in 1828 to improve their control over the area.

The bay which lies to the north of Corfu town actually consists of a large number of little coves, around whose gently-sloping shores stand attractive and busy tourist resorts. Among the most highly developed of these is Alykes (4 km.), a coastal village with luxury hotel complexes. From Alykes, a road runs to the village of Potamos and 'The Village', a modern reconstruction of a traditional Corfiot village of Venetian times. In late summer, the wine festival is held at 'The Village', and the year's wines may be tasted - free of charge - to the accompaniment of performances of music.

Corfu - IpsosNot far away is the village of Evropouli, site of the Kapodistrias Museum with its collection of the personal effects of the man who was the first governor of modern Greece. More tourist amenities are to be found at Kontokali (8 km.), which stands on a] small bay and has a marina for pleasure craft, some good beaches and a camp site. One kilometre further north is the long sandy beach belong­ing to the village of Gouvia. On the way to this area from Corfu town, we pass the Venetian naval base, of which some ruins have survived together with those of a fortress.

Corfu - Ipsos 2Off Kontokali and Gouvia is the islet of Lazareto, which from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century was the quarantine station for the crews of ships arriving in Corfu. The next beaches in this direction are those of Dafnila and Dasia, both of which are backed by olive groves that run almost down to the sea. Not far away, at the Villa Mimbelli, is a replica of a fourteenth-century Italian palazzo. Of equal tourist interest is the village of Ipsos, which stands behind a long beach at the very foot of Mt Pantokrator. It is a paradise blue flag awarted beach with a lot of Corfu Hotels, taverns, bars, restaurants and clubs.

Skripero is an attractive, traditional village in the interior of the island (approximately 8 km. from Gouvia), with a fine view. There is a feast and a banquet for all the village on 4 December, when the church of St Barbara celebrates its saint's day. Two km. from Skripero is Ano Korakiana, another quaint village which is noted for its numerous churches.

Corfu - Agios MarkosThey include the churches of St George, with a carved marble iconostasis and icons by C. Pachis and Y. Samartzis (nineteenth century), of St Athanasius with Byzantine wall-paintings (fifteenth century), of St James (fifteenth century), and of the Archangel Michael. Many of the icons from these churches are now on show in the Antivouniotissa Museum in Corfu town. The sights in Ano Korakiana (which has a tradition in choral music) also include: an interesting potter's workshop in the Feleka district, the mansion of the author Iakovos Polylas (at the foot of the hill called Korakio), and the primary school, a neo-Classical building dating from 1932 and housing a small folklore collection.

Corfu - Agios Markos 2In the first ten days of August each year, the local people hold an exhibition of paintings. Close to Ano Korakiana (3 km.) is Kato Korakiana, a little seaside village which has been developed for tourism. Another road from Ano Korakiana leads to the village of Agios (Ayios) Markos, where there are two important Christian monuments: the church of Christ Pantokrator, with wall-paintings of 1576, and the church of St Mercurius, whose wall-paintings date back to 1075 and our hotel Hotel Corfu Secret. This road continues and in 2 km. comes out on the coast at Pyrgi, which shares with Ipsos the long beach called 'The Golden Mile' by the local people.

Outside Pyrgi is the turning which heads into the interior of the island and up to the mountain villages of Spartilas and Strinilas. This is a route of breathtaking splendour, and the views down the mountainside and out to sea are most impressive. Even finer prospects are to be had from the peak of Mt Pantokrator (906 m.): when the weather permits, the coast of Epirus and Albania can be seen to the east, the little islands of Ereikoussa, Othoni and Mathraki are visible to the west and even Paxi and Lefkada, far to the south, can be discerned. The summit is crowned with the Pantokrator monastery, first founded in 1347 and destroyed in the sixteenth century. Although it was rebuilt in 1689, almost nothing of the building's earlier stages has survived. Inside is a collection of post Byzantine icons.

Corfu - BarbatiAlong the north-east coast of Corfu are numerous little bays by which stand seaside villages and attractive taverns where one can enjoy fresh fish and the view across the narrow channel to the coast of Albania. Barbati is a wide bay with a fine sandy beach, while Nisaki's beach is pebbly and there are caique sailings to Corfu town. Not far to the north is the picturesque bay of Kalami, where the author Lawrence Durrell lived while writing Prospera's Cave. His house can still be seen. Next comes the bay of Kouloura, a most attractive little harbour where there is a fortified Venetian house. A side-road beyond Kouloura leads to the little cove of Agios (Ayios) Stefanos, whose cape is the nearest point on Corfu to the Albanian mainland; the channel is only 1.5 miles wide at this point.

Kassiopi is a large and attractive village by the sea beneath the lower slopes of Mt Pantokrator, 37 km. to the north of Corfu town. It is now a busy tourist resort. In Roman times, the site was occupied by a flourishing city which we know from the written sources to have had a harbour, a theatre and a temple to Zeus Cassios, which is probably the origin of the name Kassiopi.

Corfu - KassiopiAlong the north-east coast of Corfu are numerous little bays by which stand seaside villages and attractive taverns where one can enjoy fresh fish and the view across the narrow channel to the coast of Albania. Barbati is a wide bay with a fine sandy beach, while Nisaki's beach is pebbly and there are caique sailings to Corfu town. Not far to the north is the picturesque bay of Kalami, where the author Lawrence Durrell lived while writing Prospera's Cave. His house can still be seen. Next comes the bay of Kouloura, a most attractive little harbour where there is a fortified Venetian house. A side-road beyond Kouloura leads to the little cove of Agios (Ayios) Stefanos, whose cape is the nearest point on Corfu to the Albanian mainland; the channel is only 1.5 miles wide at this point.

The north part of Corfu looks quite different from the rest of the island, partly because there is less tourism. The landscape is still most attractive, combining the allure of mountains and the sea alike, and the inhabitants are strongly attached to their traditions. The coastal area of Almy­ros is of great archaeological interest because of the cemetery which has been discovered there and is still being excavated. The burials date from between the late Archaic and Hellenistic periods and the cemetery belonged to a farming community whose economy seems to have had little contact with the outside world.

Corfu - Barbati 2To the west of Almyros is a vast sandy beach -Agios (Ayios) Georgios bay - and there is a lagoon (Lake Antinioti) of ecological interest. By the coast are the pleasant little villages of Acharavi and Roda; in the latter, archaeologists have excavated a temple of the fifth century BC whose architectural members are on display in Corfu Archaeological Museum.

From Roda, there is a road leading into the interior of the island and to the quaint village of Karousades. In the village is the mansion of the Theotokis family, a dynasty which produced many of Corfu's leading figures in the artistic as well as the political world. The building is fortified, and must first have been built in the fifteenth century. The coast road continues in 5 km. to Sidari, a former fishing village whose beaches are of unrivalled beauty. There are rock formations of a particularly striking nature which form a huge number of tiny coves and narrow channels.

Corfu - SidariOne of them, of distinctive beauty, is called the 'Channel of Love' and there is a tradition that anyone who manages to swim right along it will soon meet the partner of his or her dreams. Apart from its other attractions, Sidari is also a place of archaeological interest, being one of the few places on Corfu where traces of habitation in the Neolithic period have come to light. There are the ruins of a Venetian fortress nearby. A side-road south from Sidari brings us to the village of Arkadades, set in bewitching countryside where the picturesque villages are surrounded by olives and cypresses. This is, perhaps, the quietest part of Corfu, an area in which tourism has had hardly any effect on the traditional ways of life of the local people. We continue from Arkadades to the bay of Agios (Ayios) Georgios, with its vast beach 5 km. long. Although this is no longer the deserted place it once was, there is still magic in the air. The coastline north from Agios (Ayios) Georgios is largely rocky, but there is another sandy beach at Arillas (2.5 km), lying between two little promontories. Three islets - Diapolo, Sykia and Gravia - are situated off the coast here.