Sunday, 30 May 2010

Corfu in detail 6: Ancient commemorative plaques on Saint Eleftherios and Saint Ann church façade

  In Saint Spyridon street (locally known as "το καντούνι του Αγίου" (Saint's alley)) apart from the famous Saint Spyridon church, there is a smaller and lesser known one dedicated to Saint Eleftherios and Saint Ann. The church was consegrated in 1700, after being transformed into a religious establisment from a private house. It was built by  Theodorella Vervitsioti, daughter of Nikolaos Vervitsiotis. The church opened its doors in June of 1700 and it was renovated several times in 1765, in 1850 and in 1915. In 1714 Theodora Vervitsioti  donate the church to the grocers and cheese seller trade union. It was heavily damaged during the bombings of 14 September of 1943 and it was rebuilt almost from scratch in 1960.                          
  There are three commemorative plaques on the façade commemorating the consegration, the renovation of 1765 and its rebuilt in 1960.

  All the plaques were written in greek. The oldest one is the most beautiful and splendid of the three. It features a noble coat of arms (presumably of the Vervicioti family) on on the upper side and below the following greek text:
ΕΝ ΕΤΕΙ ΑΨ ΙΟΥΝΙΩ                                          IN THE YEAR 1700 JUNE

  The second one is much more mediocre and it commemorates the first renovation which was done in 1765.
We could read the following:
ΟΥΤΟΣ Ο ΙΕΡΟΣ ΝΑΟΣ                                    THIS HOLY CHURCH
ΑΝΕΚΑΙΝΙΣΘΗ ΕΚ                                             WAS FULLY RENOVATED
ΒΑΘΡΟΥ                                                         IN 1765

  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the most recent third plaque but the text which was written on it is the following:

"This holy church of Saint Eleftherios and of Saint Ann
destroyed in 14 September of 1943
by the german air
raid was rebuilt in the year 1960
with the assistance of the pious"
  I liked the marble which surrounds the secondary door to the left.
 - If you understand greek, I suggest reading the interesting book of Spyros Karydis "The code of the holy church of Saint Eleftherios" which provides rare details about the church's history taken by original 18th century records.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Bike paths arrived in the centre of Corfu Town!

  It seems like a dream came true. At last, Corfu Town has its very own network of cycle paths and dedicated cycleways! Although much of the local people disliked them claiming that they will worsen the traffic problem causing more congestion and taking up valuable parking lots, it is indeed a positive step towards modernisation and, I dare say, europeanisation of this town.
  The new cycle ways could be found in several central streets around the centre. In Alexandras avenue, with its wide pavements, the trees and the somewhat narrow road, it wasn't possible to built a dedicated bike way in the street, so instead the eastern pavement was used by placing some bicycle related signs.
  In Ioannou Theotoki and Eugeniou Voulgareos streets they built a bike lane on the southern side of the road. The centrepiece of the system, it's a dedicated cycleway crossing the commercial heart of the town. Combined with the pedestrianisation of the entire length of Voulgareos street it would look wonderful. 

  There is one under construction in Desylla street as well.
Another cycleway could be found on the pavement of the street which crosses the now long gone ditch of the New Fortress near the farmers market. It is actually very ill-conceived as there are some electricity columns placed on it, making it difficult for the cyclists to use.
  In Avramiou street a cycleway was also built on its entire length, from Sarocco square to the new port. During morning hours, this street is busy with traffic as many people want to park. Nearby there is the Ionian University and the IKA buildings. Because of those establishments cars parked on the cycleways could easily be found. 

  More cycleways are about to come. Kyprou street will have one shortly, there is already one crossing the Garitsa and Anemomylos park (see the related post) and our beloved town will become more friendly to its inhabitants and it will provide a better quality to everyone. As long the peripheric car parks and the other traffic improvements will come true one day, people will stop accusing the cycleways project and find a reason to buy themselves a bicycle and use it for their everyday transport needs.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

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

The third and final part of the photos I scanned from an old guidebook. Ten photos of some beaches, villages and famous places around Corfu Town as they were in the late 1970s. The first thing we could notice by looking at those pictures is that the island still wasn't so touristically exploited as it is today. There were fewer hotels, apartments for rent and other establishments related to tourism. As a result, the island back then was greener, purer and cleaner. 
                               Ai Gordis from above - notice how undeveloped was the beach!
Ipsos, mostly untouched as well from the road to Spartylas
Kommeno bay without the villas on its hills
     Glyfada, the most popular beach of the island 
 Kassiopi, a major touristic coastal village at the northeast
Kassiopi from above
        Kouloura, right before Kassiopi, a very picturesque corner
       Paleokastritsa monastery and a two panoramic views of the location from Bella Vista
       Paleokastritsa bays are known for their scenic beauty

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Corfu Heritage plaques - Have you already noticed them?

   Some years ago, the Corfu Heritage Foundation placed some bilingual blue and red plaques which indicate places in which some important corfiot personalities lived. It is a very good iniciative because it promotes tourism and commemorate famous places in which painters, writers and other prominent persons left their mark.
  Those plaques could be usually found on the buildings facades of the old Corfu Town. Obviously there were inspired by London's Blue Plaques which are scattered in the streets of the british capital.

Plaque in Arseniou street in Corfu

One of the two Mozart plaques in Frith street in Soho, London
 Below are some of the Corfu and London plaques.
 Corfiot plaques:

 Some famous London plaques:

  I would like to see more of those plaques being placed in Corfu. Also a promotion should be done with the creation of a site in the internet in which there will be an index of the plaques with a small biography of each person commemorated. A more organized iniciative will help to boost educational tourism and preserve our heritage.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Angelokastro - A stronghold against piracy

 after the northwestern village of Krini, stands like a lonesome eagle, a monument which is one among the most important castles in Greece and of Adriatic sea: Angelokastro. It's not so famous like the two castles of Corfu Town but its military importance in defending the southern end of the Adriatic sea was fundamental. It is one of the three castles that still survive in our island.

A plan of Angelocastro, taken from an old venetian lithograph

It was built in the 12th century by the byzantine despot of the Despotate of Epirus, Michael Angelos Komninos but recent finds indicate that possibly the hill was fortified as early as 5th century A.D. It was built on a hill which is 330 metres tall. The castle perfectly fits to the location. Each time the enemy was seen approaching the shores from the west, the occupants of the castle lit a fire and with by its smoke, warned the watchmen of the Old Fortress in Corfu Town, some 20 kilometres east. It helped to protect Corfu from the greater menace of the 12th century, the Normans of Sicily. In 1204, it fell to the hands of Angevins. When Corfu became a venetian possesion it protected the island from the Genoese pirates and from the Turks. In 1403, a Genoese pirate fleet attacked Angelokastro and they burned the neighbouring villages. They sieged the castle many times but they didn't manage to occupy it. In the great Turkish siege of 1571, Angelokastro stood firm, thus the turkish army didn't succeed in creating a beachhead in the northwestern coast of Corfu (like what they already had done in the eastern one). Finally the turks, after several attempts to occupy the castle and  Corfu town withdrew.

Modern plan of the castle - click on the image to zoom

The site is open every day from 8 am to 3 pm. There is a 3 euro ticket to be paid at the entrance downhill. 
Below, there is a little photographic tour I did last April.

- Angelokastro from the road which lead to its entrace
-The steps up to the castle's top. 
     -The walls. This part, suprisingly, is in good condition.
-The main entrance to the top
-We are up to the top now. Ruins all over the place and lots of green!
-Some information about the castle's history. Click to zoom.
-The breathtaking view towards Paleokastritsa from the top.
-Mathraki as seen from Angelokastro
-A chapel in the rock, dedicated to St. Kyriaki. It was created by digging in the rock and it served as a hermitage as well. The paintings date back to the 18th century.
-View towards the entrance. Notice the blossomed nature all around the place.
-Steps leading to the higher level of the acropolis.
-The ruined walls of the eastern side
-The church of the Acropolis, dedicated to the Archangel Michael and it was built on the site of an older three-aisled church.
- The sea and the rocks of the western side
-One of the three underground cisterns which supplied water to the castle occupants.
-The main gate. It points to the north and it is supported by nearby battlements.
- The stairs down to the entrance.
- Angelokastro from the bottom of the stairs.