Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The windmill in Anemomylos finally got its sweeps!

  Recently, one of the sights of our island, the windmill in Anemomylos got sweeps. Being built by the corfiot port authorities back in 1998 as a reconstruction of the old one existed at the very same point until 1895. So, after 12 years of its incompleted existence, the new mill is hopefully almost finished. Only one more thing is missing, its sails, which I hope they will be placed soon.

  Below there are two photos of the windmill's prior and recent state. Now the site looks better than before, at last it looks like a real windmill.

The mill in May 2008
The mill in December 2010
  The interior of the building is quite small but it is used like a temporary exhibitions gallery. The area around it is a beloved walk by the local residents, especially in the summer when people want to get some fresh air.

Monday, 20 December 2010

"Corfu Museum" - a new bilingual site dedicated to the rich Corfiot history

  A reader of this blog, Ioannis Petsalis, made a site about our local rich history, He named it "Corfu museum" (http://www.corfu-museum.gr/index.php)  and, like its title says, has an historic context. In its pages, old rare photos and documents from his personal collection could be found, as well as articles about local historical matters and personalities

Screenshot of "Corfu Museum" homepage

  I highly suggest visiting and bookmarking this bilingual site. It is being updated regularly with more material with the intention of becoming a rich interactive Internet-based virtual museum. You can also become a member by hitting the "register" button at the bottom left of the main page. Becoming a member, you can also publishg your article or posting old Corfu pictures from your archive.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

An amazing Christmas concert by the Filarmonic Society of Corfu symphonic orchestra

  Yesterday I went to the Ionian Academy to watch the annual Christmas concert given by the symphonic orchestra of Filarmonic Society of Corfu, conducted by Alkis Baltas. The concert should had taken place in the Municipal theatre but, due to yesterday's national strike, it took place in the smaller auditorium at Ionian Academy.  
The venue soon was full of people waiting impatiently for the concert to start. Around 20.30, the members of the orchestra took their seats, then the conductor entered and they started perfoming their first piece, the three german dances by W.A. Mozart. "Simfonia da caccia" by Leopold Mozart followed and next, four religious music pieces by G. Caccini, Franz Liszt, M. Reger and M. Praetorius. All of those four featured solo singers and the last one even had a local vocal assemble called "Camerata Vocalis", consisted mostly by students of the Ionian University music department.

  The second part was exclusively dedicated to greek composers. Two small melodic pieces written by corfiot composer Alexander Grec were performed first, followed by three other pieces of dance music by another corfiot composer Iosif Kaisaris. Last but not least was "Elliniká Kálanta", an upbeat selection of greek carols arranged by the conductor himself, Alkis Baltas.

  Overall, the concert was amazing. Being now the only symphonic orchestra this island has, it should be supported by the local people. Many of the musicians are amateurs but this does not mean the result is "amateurish". In my honest opinion, this orchestra can compete even with some professional orchestras.
After all, the word "amateur" doesn't mean "love for the art"?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Corfu in detail 9: Another neoclassical building on Donatou Dimoulitsa street

  Opposite the old psychiatric clinic, there is an old early 20th century neoclassical building. Hopefully it survived the era of the apartment block massive construction and nowadays it's ground floor is being occupied by a hairdresser and the upper floor by a social club. 

  The building's windows are simplistic. Right down of every window there are decoratives elements which, like the rest of the building, are fundamental.

  I can't tell if that building is listed, but if not, there should be. Constructions of this style could be found in other greek cities too and reflect an era when building was more an art than a necessity.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas time in Corfu - brand new christmas lights in Annunziata square

  Christmas time is here and Corfu town has been decorated with million of lights. This year, there's a enormous lighting scheme embracing the (newly baptised) Annunziata square. It hangs above the useless little roundabout at the front of the old campanile. People stop to stare and admire the new addition, so much needed in the grey economical times our country is going through.

Let's now remember how the older Christmas lights had been:
Christmas 2007: http://johncorfuworld.blogspot.com/2007/12/corfu-towns-high-street-christmas.html
Christmas 2009: http://johncorfuworld.blogspot.com/2009/12/christmas-in-corfu-how-central-streets.html

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A visit to the new "Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros" music museum

  Our town acquired a brand new museum dedicated to the island's most popular art, the music. The new music museum is housed in the first floor of the Old Philarmonic Society's building on Nikiforou Theotoki street, behind the Liston complex. It's main theme is the foundation's 170-year-old history, the oldest of its kind in Greece. Its first director, Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros, dedicated its life to teach and promote the art of music with no personal profit.
  The museum is divided in five sections: 1) the foundation, administration and organisation, 2) educational activities 3) the concerts 4) the wind band and 5) the people and their work. All those sections take up four rooms. Although it is quite small, it is rich and the visitor can learn a lot about the music heritage of our place. There is also a multimedia unit in which documentary videos and sound archives can be seen and heard.
  The museum was funded by the European Union and it was organized by Konstantinos Kardamis, a professor of musicology in the Ionian University.

Let's do now a little tour of the museum. These are some photos from the biggest room which house the sections decicated to the philarmonic's people and the band. There are some old instruments behind a glass panel some of which date from the mid-19th century. The rest of this big room is full of old partitures, including some handwritten ones by Mantzaros and Samaras.

The next room is smaller and dedicated to the concerts. There is an old Bernstein piano and some old paintings. There are  a bassoon cleverly being hold by a metallic stand which resembles a bassoonist and a cello which is exposed in a similar way.

  The space dedicated to the band's foundation and organisation history is housed in the aisle at the museum's first floor entrance. The founding proceeding, some administration documents, the musicians' registry and some statues could be found. All those documents are invaluable and witness the foundation's early history.

  The last room houses some educational material. An old Bogs & Voigt piano can be admired and next to it few old instrumental methods and programmes of pupils' concerts. A big book with all the pupils' registries are exhibited as well.

  If you will ever pass by the philarmonic's building, you can get a billingual leaflet with the museum plans and a short history. I scanned it for you and I post it here for those who can obtain it.

   I highly suggest visiting this museum. It's unique in its kind and the visitor can learn a lot about the island's rich music tradition. There is a free entrance and it is open from Monday to Saturday 09.30 to 13.30

- The museum's official site: http://www.fek.gr/museum/index.htm

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The catholic monastery of Saint Francis of Assisi

  On Nikiforou Theotoki street, near the orthodox church of Agios Antonis, stands the catholic monastery of Saint Francis of Assisi. It is an important monument not directly seen from street level, as there is an entrance with some stairs behind it leading to the monastery's property.

The chapel of St. Anne, refurbished by the british in 1850

  It is one of the oldest churches survived. Actually nobody can tell when it was consrtructed but all we know is that the property, probably then dedicated to Saint Aggelos, was given to a female monastery in the period of the Epirus despotate in the 12th century. The church itself is a living monument of the schism and the rivalry of the Orthodox and the Catholic church. In 1272 when the d'Anjoux took over Corfu they eliminated the orthodox Archibishop and took the orthodox best churches in order to convert then into catholic ones. Later on, in 1367, this church was given to the latin monks of Saint Francis of Assisi and it was the place when in 1386, the corfiots gave the town keys to the venetian admiral Giovanni Miani surrendering to the Serene Republic of Venice. In 1798 the first primary school was founded (it still stands today as the "5th primary school"). In 1943, following the german's bombings, the monastery temporary housed the catholic archiodecese until the reconstruction of the catholic Duomo.

The main entrance of the church
The 5th primary school

  The church follows the eptanisian basilica style with a wooden tiled roof. It's campanile is venetian influenced. There were some additional buildings (like the cloisters) which unfortunately are long gone now.

View of Saint Francis property from the opposite arcaded buildings

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Corfu in the past 4: A documentary photo of the Avrami fort

  Almost one year before I visited and photographed the negleted Avramiou Hill which stands above the hospital and behind the New Fortress. There is a rundown building on its top which used to house an elder house up to the 1980s.
  As you already may know, there was a fort on the top which was named after Avrami, a rich 16th century man who had his luxurious villa on the hill. Following the villa's destruction by the Turks in 1537, the venetian built a new peripheric fort when the turks attacked Corfu for a second time in 1716. The fort unfortunately was destroyed in 1864 by the british who left the island that year.
I thought there was hardly one image of it until today when I saw on "Corfu Old Photos" a 1860s rare dangerotype of Avrami fort before its destruction. As you can see in that documentary photo, the elder house was already there in the middle of the fortification and tall defensive walls run from its sides.

  The area now is very different. No clue of defensive walls. Only the abandoned elder house and a small building still stand, deteriorating until they collapse and become history themselves.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The 17th century church of Saint Catherine is under the threat of collapse

 Last Friday evening, following the heavy rainfall of the last days, the roof of the historic Saint Catherine church right next to the Palace and few metres away from the Liston collapsed. The church has been left to its fate many years now and every day its horrible state of disrepair threaten the passerbys. There are some props around the building but this doesn't that they can stop the total collapse forever.
  I found some pictures from the "Kerkyra S.O.S." group, taken from a neighbouring building and reveal the size of the damage. You can see yourself the level of the damage and the bad state in which the church is in.

  Today I walked by the site to see myself the disaster. Nothing wrong could be seen from street level because the roof can't be seen from this side.

  Notice how weathered and abandoned the building looks. If there weren't those iron pillars, it would had already been collapsed. But what we know about St. Catherine church's history? Here are some lines:

  The church of St. Katherine is situated on the northern side of Esplanade right next to the St. Michael and St George palace. It was built in the 1690s by the cretan scholar Nikodimos Karofylaktos, who in 1704 converted it to a men's monastery which was housed in a nearby building. The monastery was closed at the end of 19th century. The church itself follows the "eptanisian basilica" style and features interesting paintings like that of the cretan painter Tsagarolas called "the martyr of St. Catherine". The church belongs to parish of St. Eleftherios but it is owned by the Municipality of Corfu (apart from the ground floor). There used to be a service on St. Catherine's day but they were ceased due to the building's bad state.

Marble plaque on which states the church's construction date

   It's high time something to be done. This historical monument needs imediate preservation and restoration. Otherwise, this will be another one fatality for Corfu's history and architecture. 

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Corfu Town in the late 1970s: Part Six - The environs III

  This is the sixth and the final part of this vintage tour in 70s Corfu. In this part we are going to see another ten documentary images taken from different parts of the island like Paleokastritsa, Kassiopi and Ai Gordis. All those images were scanned from a vintage tourist book of my collection.

Tourists having a tour of Paleokastritsa's caves
The little peninsula on which the Paleokastritsa'a monastery is situated
Monks chatting in Paleokastritsa's monastery
Kassiopi - Four views in one
A traditionally dressed corfiot woman

Having holidays in Acharavi
Glyfada beach and its grand hotel
French tourists in Dassia's Club Mediterranee
Swimmers in a now defunct pier of Ipsos
Ai Gordis beach before its mass tourism exploitation