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 . MDCLXXX
RINOVATO . DEL 1728
(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: http://johncorfuworld.blogspot.com/2009/03/ancient-sculptured-heads-on-old.html

  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.


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