Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Corfu Town in the late 1970s: Part Four - The town again

  The fourth part of the vintage 70s picture of Corfu island features 14 coloured pictures scanned from an old guide book. As with the first two parts, the most important landmarks have been captured like the Esplanade, the Palace, Liston and "kantounia" (the narrow old streets).

The palace with its blossomed gardens
Narrow traditional "kantouni"
Another one narrow street near St. Spyridon church
The kantouni of Saint Spyridon, busy with tourists
Kofineta before its pedestrianisation
The Saint Spyridon's procession
Liston one warm summer morning
Liston by night
Panorama of the old port square before its abandonment
The Esplanade with the Old Fortress in the background
The Esplanade, the biggest square in the Balcans
The old port with its old ferries
Traditional coach in Esplanade

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Forgotten Corfu 9: An ancient wall in Garitsa

  In the suburb of Garitsa I recently spotted an ancient wall in the juction of Cyprus and Kolokotroni streets. This wall follows the sharp ascenting Kolokotroni street and it almost encircles a detached house with a garden. The house seems to had been built much later than the wall itself and this can be proved by a 1910 documentary photo that I found in the Old Corfu Photos group in Facebook (see below).
  A special feature that makes the wall even more like an enigma is that it seems like a defensive one, like those which encircle fortresses or towns. Holes on the wall look like they had created on purpose. 
  The question is why. Did that wall protected an important structure during the venetian era? Had been part of some kind of fortification? Maybe, because the Salvatore fort (where now the prison stands) was not very far from the site. Or was just to decorate the peripheric wall of an ancient house? The 1910 picture gives no clue about that, it seems that the site behind the wall was just fields. 
  Look at the pictures I took the day before and compare them to the 1910 one. How built up and busy looks the area now and how serene and rural looked exactly one century ago.

- 1910 photo of Cyprus and Kolokotroni junction taken from "Old Corfu photos" group, courtesy of Zohios - Tzikas archives.

  - Another forgotten spot on Cyprus street, just 150 metres away from the wall: the Cyprus street commemorative post.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A beautiful sunset in Ai Gordis beach

  Sunsets in Corfu can rival the famous Californian ones. The island's humid and hot Mediterranean climate is perfect for spectacular colourful sunsets.
  This one was taken last May at Ai Gordis beach. Notice how well blend together the sound of the waves with the beach bar's dance music in the background.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Corfu in the past 3: The "Tennis" area as it looked in the 1860s

  The "Tennis" area is now known as a heavy populated part of Corfu Town, full of flats which named after the existing tennis court. But one hundred and fifty years earlier the place was undeveloped and then out of the town limits. Corfu in early 1860s was still under the british rule, which lasted till May 1864. Since then, the Corfu town limits were defined by the venetian walls and the areas of Mantouki, Garitsa and Sarocco were being considered as suburbs. 
  The area between the Porta Remounda and Garitsa was being called by the British as "New town" as it was the first planned residential area of Corfu Town. But it was after the british rule, in the 1870s that the area had started to build up. Ioannis Chronis (1800-1879), a corfiot architect and engineer who envisioned the area having plenty of open space and a Π - shaped form in order to be healthy for its inhabitants. Indeed, new straights road opened, among them the wide boulevard of Alexandras avenue and as soon as the land was divided in blocks, fashionable residences had started to appear scattered around the area. Even though the original plan included arcaded buildings, a church on the site of the tennis court as well as the sophisticated Π- shaped blocks, all those were scrapped in 1873 by the government in order to rise the density of the whole built-up area.

  This couple of documentary pictures below show the forementioned area before its development. In the first picture, the bay road, now known as "paraliaki tis Garitsas" already existed. In the front, we can see some marble graves scattered around a field belonged to one of the three british cemeteries in the site of the Corfu Palace hotel. In the backround, the suburb of Garitsa could be seen and further back a patch of water from Chalikiopoulos sealake (near the present airport) and above it the Agioi Deka mountain making a strong presence.

  The second one was taken from a different angle but it's prespective covers the same area. At the left, a lonesome house standed and a diagonial road (which doesn't exist nowadays) probably led to the Sarocco area. In the background, the Anemomylos area and further right the undeveloped Alexandras Avenue made a good contrast with Garitsa's buildings further back.

-Photos taken from the Alinari Archives:

Monday, 11 October 2010

Forgotten Corfu 8: Τhe Cobici townhouse and its ornate door

  In the Venetian period existed families of merchants and nobility which were distinguished from the lower classes. They enjoyed a number of privileges and they had enough money to build grand houses to live in. One of them, still standing at Nikiforou Theotoki street oposite the St. Vasileios church is the Cobici townhouse. A tall five-storey building with vaults on the first floor, it dominates one of the busiest streets of old town.

It was build in 1680s by the cretan merchant family of Cobici. Being wealthy and powerful due to its involvement with shipping and sea trade, became one of the most important exporters of corfiot oil to Venice. The oldest reference of the family which has survived was from 1666 when Daniel Cobici was already trading oil in Corfu but his brother Nicolas, an oil trader too, was still back in Rethimno, Crete. When Crete fell to the Turks in 1668, Nicolas Cobici moved to Corfu and in 1699 the whole of his family joined him. The Cobici townhouse was not the only property which belonged to them. They had a farmhouse in the Lichaidoura village (which later was renamed Kompitsi after the family).

The former entrance of building can be found on a sidestreet, named after Bizi's family which had built their grand house there as well. Thus the narrow old lane has been known as "Το καντούνι του Μπίζη" ("Bizi's lane) since the venetian era. The entrance is quite ornate and it leads now to a fashionable hair salon.

A gargoyle head like a lion stands above the door while right above it a commemorative writing reads:

(Daniel Cobici 1680 renovated in 1728)

  A pine cone at the very top, probably a symbol of the Cobici family is the "corona" of this artistic door. 

  At this point, I should notice that in the past I have posted photographs of these gargoyle heads which ornate the front face of the building. Click on the link to see them:

  Being recently renovated, this grand old venetian building, which was in a derelict state prior its renovation, makes a strong presence among the neighbouring buildings and should more grey old buildings follow suit.

Friday, 8 October 2010

How does the interior of the Annunziata's monument looks like?

  Have you ever wondered how does the interior of a deteriorating venetian monument look like? Few days ago a user from the "Save Annunziata" group in Facebook had uploaded some photos taken in the interior of the monumental venetian campanile. I don't know how did he gained access as it is too difficult to find an entrance, and if you find one it will probably be locked.

As you can see in those exclusive documentary images, the interior is no way better than the exterior. Being a pigeon nest, rotten wood could be found everywhere ready to fall apart. 

Hopefully, the interior will be renovated as well and the good news are that it will be open to the public. It will be used as a viewing gallery with views towards the high streets of Eugeniou Voulgareos and Ioannou Theotoki.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Annunziata renovation plans and the future cenotaph

  Following last month's protest, images of future renovatated Annunziata monument were published. The renovation plan involve the full renovation of the old but significant venetian campanile, a brand new cenotaph dedicated to the dead Battle of Nafpaktos' soldiers and the public space right next to the monument will be branded as "Annunziata square". 
 Warm and cheerful mediterranean colours have been selected, emphasising and respecting the significance of such a monument. There will be a poster which will inform the tourists and the locals about its history and a new lighting scheme will be implemented. 

  Hopefully by the end of the Annunziata's renovation, a new sight will be pinpointed on the tourist map, a must-see for those who love and appreciate the local and the european history

-Visit and support the "Save Annunziata" group in Facebook: