Sunday, 27 June 2010

Ruins of an old british defensive building in the western ditch of the New Fortress

   Inside the construction site of the new farmers market (inexcusably built on the New Fortess western ditch) was found some ruins of an old building dated from the period of the british occupation of Corfu (1812-1864). Its use  most probably was a defensive one. It might have served as mews, as an arsenal or even as a watchman's house. 
  Anyway, an extensive and systematic archeological survey should be done in order to assess and decide whether this finding should be protected or be buried and swallowed by the new farmers market. Unfortunately, the evaluation is going very slow and the market has been under construction for some 3 or 4 years now (it should have been constructed in under a half year's period!).

  In my opinion, the farmer market should never have been constructed on that historic site. Being on the venetian 16th century ditch, it should have been preserved and reconstructed in its former state, showing off to locals and greeks alike the extensive and unique defensive system that Corfu had in the past.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Two recently repainted old buildings in old Corfu Town

Two beautiful buildings in Eugeniou Voulgareos street and in Pentofanaro (corner of Voulgareos and Kapodistriou streets) have been recently been given a lift. They were repainted in warm mediterranean colours which made them look fresher and more vivid than their previous greyish and depressing colour. Being an Unesco heritage site, the old town of Corfu should renovate the facades of all its buildings. 

The building below is in Voulgareos street, a central one full of attractive shops. It has ornamented balconies and there is a boutique on the first floor. 

The second one is in the corner of Voulgareos and Kapodistriou streets opposite to Pentofanaro. Because this building it is situated in a central point and on a square, its façade forms an integral part of the local architecture.

Below is a general view of Pentofanaro square. At the right is one of the buildings of the internationally famous Liston, next to it the newly repainted building and at the left corner the Pentofanaro square itself.

I've searched my archive and I found an image I shot back in 2005, before the building's renovation. How different today it looks! More pleasant, vivid and welcoming. I hope soon, more old buildings in need of renovation will follow its example.

Before                                                                          After

Sunday, 20 June 2010

At the ruins of the ancient greek Mon Repos temples

  Mon Repos estate is internationally famous for its centerpiece, it's 1831 palace built by the British and being for many decades the place where the king of Greece spent his summer. The estate is vast. Being with the park near the prisons the only urban park in town, it deserves a visit. Few know that the estate was built on the site of the "acropolis" (citadel) of ancient Corfu Town, which was famous for its impressive buildings and its luxury. Today, only few ruins remind us its glorious past: the ruins of the Heraeum (a temple dedicated to Hera) and the doric temple of Kardaki dedicated to Apollon.
  The Sanctuary of Akreas Iras was built around 600 BC and is somewhat large in size (20m x 43m). It was gradually destroyed by civil wars and by successive conquerors of Corfu, who used the building’s materials in constructing the walls of the new town.  Nowadays, we can hardly imagine how it might looked like. Only few stones and a couple of column bases could be seen.

  The doric temple of Apollon is in much better state. It is a small Dorian temple dated from the end of the 6th century, with 11 monolithic pillars in its wide sides and 6 in its narrow sides, and was dedicated as it is said either to Neptune, or to Asklepios, or, finally, to Apollo. It is worth noting that the material used in its construction was all local limestone from the quarry at Varipatades. The first findings were revealed during the years of English domination, more accurately in 1822, when the british were trying to find why the spring of Kardaki stopped running water. The reason was the collapse of the then hidden easternly part of the Dorian temple of Kardaki  because of the weather conditions. Its style resembled these of the temples of Sicily and South Italy while its monolithic columns are similar to those of the Apollon temple in Korinthos.

- Mon Repos estate is situated very close to the centre of Corfu Town. It is half an hour walk south from the Esplanade. The Blue Bus line to Kanoni stops right outside the entrance of the estate.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Corfu in detail 8: A milestone in the Esplanade across Pentofanaro

  Remember a last March post about a milestone right outside Villa Rosa? Well, there is another one, more well known but equally overlooked detail. It is situated in the very heart of Corfu Town, across the busy and central Pentofanaro, a meeting place and a hangout for the youth.
  But why there is a stone like that placed at the northwestern corner of the Esplanade? It is simply placed there to mark the very heart of the town and of the whole island. It is the central point from which distances are being counted. London has Charing Cross juction in Trafalgar square and Athens has Syntagma square. In old Corfu town, the most important point of the road network wasn't Sarocco Square but this corner across Pentofanaro and Liston where Eugeniou Voulgareos (Calle D'acques) meet Kapodistriou and the promenade of Liston, all important throughfares in the past centuries.
  Looking at this ancient milestone closer we could easily see the number "0" carved on the side which faces Pentofanaro. That number should have denoted the "central point", the zero kilometre or mile from which distances started to be counted. Right about that figure, there is something written in greek but is no more readable.

  Does anybody know how old is that milestone and what that greek lettering read? I searched the net but could not find anything!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Sunset and Dusk in Anemomilos

  Walking or cycling in the Garitsa/ Anemomilos area during a hot summer evening is an activity which I adore. The sunset from Mylos is spectacular as the sun sets behind the town. The colour of the sky is turning red, orange, pink or purple depending the atmosphering conditions of the day. Many people prefer to walk up to Mylos to enjoy the view and get some fresh air from the sea breeze. In my opinion, the Garitsa walk is one of the best in the world comparable to that of Thessaloniki or even to the Corniche in Alexandria, Egypt.

- Garitsa sunset in July 2008: link

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Corfu in detail 7: Marble slab bearing the venetian winged lion in Mouragia

  The symbol of Venice which we all know was the winged lion holding an opened book. This lion is the symbol of Venice's patron saint Saint Mark so it was adopted by the venetians as early as the 9th century. This symbol could be frequently found in Venice and its former colonies/ oversea territories. Corfu, being under venetian occupation since the late 14th century, has a loads of venetian monuments like its two fortresses and other old buildings. So, the winged lion could be easily found on the old walls surrounding the old city and inside the fortresses.

  But quite unexpectedly, I spotted this marbled slab on the façade of this old building in the Mouragia area of Corfu Town.
  It was placed right above the main entrance of the 3-story building which today it's still occupied by private lodgings.
  Having a closer look at the slab we can spot a lion with wings holding a shield with an ancient greek helmet on it. At the bottom right and left corners there are two cannons which point at the east and west respectively. At the right upper side something like a coat of arms could be seen.
So, judging from this slab, it is mostly likely that the building was used for military purposes. It may have been military headquarters, a place to store armory and ammunition. 
  It is also apparent that the slab is very clean, preserved and it doesn't show its age. There are lots and lots of this venetian slabs on the walls of the town (may one day I will cover them in one post) which are in urgent need of restoration, like the majority of Corfu's defences. It is about time to think about that!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Philarmonic Society of Corfu rehearsing Samara's "To the glorious homeland"

A short clip taken with my cameraphone from the band's rehearsal of 01 June 2010. They are playing a piece of an important corfiot composer, Spyros Samaras(1861-1917). It is called "Για την ένδοξη πατρίδα" (Το the glorious homeland) and it was a part from the operatta "Πόλεμος εν πολέμω" (War in war) composed in 1914, a year after the end of the Balkan wars.
The band will perfom it at a concert dedicated to the corfiot composers at the Athens Music Hall tomorrow.