Thursday, 29 July 2010

Another old venetian building with sculptured heads above its vaults

  On Nikiforou Theotoki street, not far from the other building bearing sculptured heads of ancient nature, there is a complex of building, pretty similar to that of the Liston with arches (vaults). On one of those, there are five sculptured heads, one for each vault, hanging right above the base of those beautiful street lights. Nobody can tell for sure what those represent, are they gods, deities or other mythical figures? But definately were used as ornaments. Venetians and most of the western europeans in the Rennaisance and during the Enlightment adored the ancient greek civilization so they adopted many elements of the classic greek architecture.

  Nikiforou Theotoki street with its vaulted buildings. Spot the figures above the vaults.


  Today the street is bustling with tourists and locals who stroll through the tourist shops below the arches. But how many of them take notice of those ancient figures looking at them passing from above?


Sunday, 25 July 2010

Forgotten Corfu 6: Ancient venetian cistern near Townhall square

  In the old times, corfiots used to obtain water exclusively from cisterns which collected water from the abudant rainfall of winter. Every neighnorhood and every village had its own cistern. Cisterns and other sources of water used to be a place to chat and learn the news. 
  One ancient cistern could be found just under the 2nd-3rd primary school building near Townhall square. The school complex was built in 1931 on the site of an old 18th century venetian building which housed the seat of the venetian Bailie, the governor of the island. Literally that means that the school seats on a massive ancient cistern.
  There is a plaque written in greek which can be translated to: "Cistern of the venetian Bailie 1587".  So, the cistern itself is much older than the long gone 18th century building. 

  An old photo of the beautiful 18th century building which was the seat of the venetian bailie and was too sadly demolished. Its baroque style is prominent. 

  The place is frequented by doves which seem to love the rocky nature of the site. They echo the times where this quiet place was a hang out place for people who chatted loudly while filling their bottles and pots with fresh water.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Laurentiou Vrokini street - The narrowest in Corfu Town?

There are several streets which can claim the title of the most narrow in the world. Two of them, the Spreuerhof street, an 18th-century lane in Reutlingen, Germany and the Parliament street in Exeter, UK dispute the title.

But did you know that in the old part of Corfu town there few streets that are such narrow like those above? One of these, is the upper half of Laurentiou Vrokini street, a side street off the hustle and bustle of Eugeniou Voulgareos, the main shopping street of the town. Being inside the walled town, this street is as ancient as the town itself. The area around it was heavily bombed by the nazi Germans in 1943 so some ungly blocks of flats could be found, built by the time Corfu redeveloped its bombed sites.

Location of Lavrediou Vrokini str. (in yellow)
  So, on our left hand we could see a modern apartment building while on our right one, there are some older ones. The street, narrows considerably in the middle to form a very narrow lane where a man can pass through it with difficulty.

  Looking upwards, the roofs of the building almost touch each other on the left end.

  Looking towards the street from the other end, we could see the narrow mouth of the street, which is no wide than 50 cm.

  I will look for more narrow streets like that. Maybe there is one narrower but I have the impression that this is the winner.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Glyfada beach today - Busy as always!

  I went to Glyfada beach this evening, right after lunch. It was quite busy as it was Sunday and extremely hot. Glyfada is one of the most popular beaches in the island and generally in Greece. There is a big seaside hotel, Louis Grand Hotel on the southern end while on the centre of the strand there is the famous Aloha beach club with its volleyball courts. The northern bit is more quiet and is being frequented by families. On the rocks there is the Polatov villa, which belonged to a greek fashion designer, one of the most famous beach houses worldwide.
  The beach is well served by the local green buses (one every hour) and it's 17km west of Corfu Town.

  A bunch of photos I took today:

Friday, 16 July 2010

A romanian dance videocip shot around Corfu island

  Few days before I discovered in YouTube a videoclip of a romanian female dance dj called Andreea Balan. It was shot around Corfu to promote her club tune "Trippin' ". It is a catchy and summerish track made for the dancefloors, or better as a soundtrack for beachbars. Romanian dance music hit it big in 2009 with names like Inna, Akcent and Morandi which dominated last years scene.
  The video is shot at Mouragia, Town hall square, Sidari, Kalamaki beach and at the marina in Gouvia (Govino bay). It shows off to the world the beauties of our paradise island and it was already viewed 600.000 times in 45 days! Thank you Andreea for promoting through your beautiful music our island, it was such a suprise for all us Corfiots!
  Enjoy the video and make sure you post / forward it to your friends!

Andreea Balan- Trippin'

The making of...

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A 1986 video of Philharmonic Society of Corfu's youth windband

A 24 years old video, shot in the bandstand of Esplanade with the society's youth windband playing "Kathe limani kai kaimos" ("Every port and nostalgia") directed by Giorgos Katsaros, the composer of the piece of music heard. This footage was part of an old ERT production and is considered very rare. The sound of these young musicians (most of them aged between 10-18) is close to perfection, which proves the quality and the talent of their playing.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Forgotten Corfu 5: The unknown unique old building with the two arched storeys

  There are plenty of arched buildings in Corfu. These vaulted structures could be found everywhere in Corfu town with the most famous being the Liston buildings, built by the French in the early 19th century. It is said that Corfiots loved the arches because there they could seek a refuge from a sudden storm (they are quite common during the winter) or it was a place to socialize and to trade their products. 
  In Kotardou street, near the church of Agios Vasilios, there is the only building in the town in which the ground and the first floor is ornated with arches. The building's style is heavily influenced by the venetian renaissance one and it might be constructed in the early 16th century when the whole island was under the venetian rule. In the ground floor, the "Apostrofos" bookstore could be found which features an interesting collection of books in greek. The two upper floors are still inhabited. Below there is some images which show how the building looks today.

- An old photo taken from the very interesting "Corfu Old Photos" group in Facebook.

  If you ever pass from that street, remember to spot and admire that unique building which reminds us a bit of Florence's architecture.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Save the Patounis soap factory!

  On Ioannou Theotoki street, just off Sarocco square, there is a small soap making factory which operated there since 1891. It is maybe the last old industry of its kind in existence in our days. Apostolos Patounis, the owner, is the 5th generation producer. His ancestors founded this soap factory in Zante in 1850. In 1891, the present building in the Sarocco area was erected to house the industry.

  It is the only place in Greece where soap is made by the use of olive oil. The Japanese say that using soaps made from olive oil is good for the skin health. Patounis soap is popular in Japan and in the Europe market, thus most of the product is being exported there.

  The building itself is a living museum of a 19th century industry. Many tourists and schools visit it and it is protected by law. Unfortunately last May, the co-owners of this old edifice decided to close the factory, raze it and build another boring and bland block of apartments on its site. For the time being, the production has been halted. Many people support Apostolos Patounis and they are trying to persuade the state and the owners to call their decision back.

  Let's have a closer look at the building. The two-storey edifice was built in 1891 when the surrounding area was the suburb of Sarocco (San Rocco). It was the place where the farmers sold their product and the karts from the corfiot villages stopped to unload their produce. At that era, Corfu had several factories, situated mainly in the Mantouki area. It was a great source of employment at that time, before tourist become the main activity in 1950s.

  Looking up towards the top part of the building, on the wall of the neighbouring 60s apartment block, the remains of another taller roof which existed some decades before.

  Two ground floor entrances. The left one with the direct access to the manufacture area and the right main entrance with the old sign on the top.

  Close up to the antique sign at the top

  An interesting video from Aftonomos TV with Apostolos Patounis showing around and explaining the process of olive oil soap making:

  I really hope this wonderful and rare traditional industry will soon overcome the obstacles and operate again for many years to come.

- Facebook group dedicated to the Patounis factory:
- Patounis factory official site: (under construction)