Sunday, 30 January 2011

The famous spring of Kardaki

  In a short distance from the southeast side of the Mon Repos estate there is the famous spring of Kardaki which had been commemorated by geographers, writers and poets and had been famous for the quantity and the quality of its water. In 1896, Lorenzos Mavilis wrote a sonnet about it and the locals say that whoever drinks from it is destined to forget his homeland and always return to Corfu.

«Golden waters, I see you because the waters from the cold tap bewitches me, which surely runs from the holy ground. Therefore some God has decreed, And whichever foreigner wets his lips To his homeland he will never return».
   Lorenzos Mavilis "Kardaki"

  The spring itself had been used by the commercial ships and by the Navy passing by the island. Also the locals used to come by boat in the summer to bring some water to town when they runned out of it. There were a lion head, symbol of the venetian republic, from which mouth water was running. The origin of the name "Kardaki" had been probably derived from the venetian word "vardia" which means "night shift" gradually changed by locals to "vardaki" and finally to "kardaki". As the name suggests, maybe had been shifts in order to protect the spring and the surrounding are from intruders. In 1822, water suddenly stopped running from the spring and the english authorities (Corfu then was under british rule) decided to do some excavations to find out the reason of that incident. They found that a part of the then undiscovered ancient temple of Apollon had blocked the water as a result of a landslide.

  In 1898, when mayor Aggelos Psoroulas was in office (1893-1899), the spring had been repaired and a commemorative plaque had been placed right under the small cave above the spring. Also, another plaque had been placed nearby by Corfiot Studies Society on which the famous verse of Mavilis can be read.

  Going down the stairs, there is a secluded beach with crystaline waters. The spring and the beach can be easily reached from the top of Analipsis hill.  

  - A nice short story about Kardaki by Gaye Jee:

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Corfu in detail 10: Late 1890s building opposite the old hospital

  On Ioulias Andreadi street, just opposite the now vacant old hospital there is another neoclassical building which dates from 1899. It has two floors. The ground floor has two doors, one for the first floor apartment and one for the upper floor one. 
  Like many houselords do in Greece, only the lower floor is painted while the upper one looks like it hadn't been painted for ages.

  The door leading to the upper floor has a nice piece of ironwork featuring a "lyra" bearing the number 1899 which probably states the year in which the building had been completed.

  Looking at the documentary photo below, which dates from the 1870s, we can clearly see that the area was scarcely populated. The red arrow marks the site on which the building of this post would be build in late 1890s.

 Ioulias Andreadi str. taken from Avramiou hill
  The whole style of the building follows the neoclassical line which was dominant in late 19th century - early 20th century Greece. Although this type of architecture generally was strict and simple, it reflected the classical architecture found in ancient Athens.

  Nowadays, building of this type stand out of the indifferent 60s monstrosities. 

Friday, 21 January 2011

"George Kardamis - Nostalgy" - A song about the Corfu bombing by the Nazi Germans in 1943

  The song was written by the corfiot composer George Kardamis to commemorate the violent bombing which ruined large parts of Corfu town in September 1943.
  The video below features the rare recording of the song sung by Spiros Vlachos under the direction of Dimitris Depergolas. The sound archive is courtesy of E.R.A. Corfu.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Τhe old Venetian well in Campiello

  Most of you might have already visited the old 17th-century Venetian Well in the middle of Campiello. It was featured in some movies (like the greek "Η τιμή της αγάπης" - "The price of love"). It was constructed in 1699 by Antonio Cocchini (Cocchini was a venetian noble family - the modern village of "Kokkini" took its name from the family which probably owned the area back then) in the middle of a small square ("campiello" in the italian language, which means a small square - the whole area of Campiello probably took its name from this place).

  The well is richly ornated with engravings and commemorative inscriptions. It is an octagon so it has eight faces. On one of them we could read in Latin:


  The same inscription in Greek could be seen on the face facing the church of Kremasti:


  In English, the inscriptions could be translated like: "To the greatest and best god/ work of Antonio Cocchini/ for the common benefit/ 1699" 

  Two other faces bear the Cocchini family coat of arms: 

  Here are some photos of the venetian well and its environs:

- Another venetian relic similar to this well, a fountain, could be found at the Esplanade:

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Stunning photography by corfiot photographer George

  Here are some awesome images taken using an iPhone mobile courtesy of my friend George. Note that on some of the images the so called HDR technique (the acronym stands for "High Dynamic Range") had been applied.

Balcony with a view
Stormy day at the beach 
Sunrise over Epirus
Windy autumn day at Ipsos beach
Night panoramas of Ipsos
Psychedelic sunrise at Ipsos
The marina at Govino bay
Fire brigade's firetanker collecting water
The Esplanade
Kapodistriou street with Liston in the background
Sunrise at Ipsos. The moon is still up and lit.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Forgotten Corfu 10: A ditch in Garitsa (which probably is what is left from an ancient canal)

  Garitsa is one of the first suburbs of old Corfu Town. The area was first mentioned in the middle of 17th century as "Gastrades", a name taken from the small salted water ponds which were abundant there. The suburb was built on what was the cemetery of the ancient Corfu town. That town had two ports. One on Garitsa's gulf and a second, much bigger, on Yllaikos bay, the arm of sea on which the airport was built. Probably a canal provided communication between Garitsa and Yllaikos bays served as well as a defensive ditch. That canal existed up to the 18th-19th century as an old 18th century map below suggests.

An 18th century venetian map of Garitsa. The red arrows mark the canal while the red point notes its crossing with the future Cyprus street, point in which the modern ditch emerges.

  The red arrows point the location of the canal on the map. It's a thin black line which starts from the middle of Garitsa Bay and diverges on the upper part of the map. One branch, which looks like the wider one, seems to lead to Illaikos bay and the others to the Pagkrateika neighbourhood. The map also suggests that there had been only one bridge over the canal, on the high street of Garitsa (Alkinoou street), colloquially known as the "foro" (from the latin word "forum" - a public meeting place)
  Today little is known about its existence. Garitsa is now a dense neighbourhood of Corfu Town with plenty 60s-70s apartment blocks. The historic core around Alkinoou street still retains most of its old venetian buildings but the ancient canal no longer exists.
  I tried to find any proofs of its existence. The only thing I found which maybe is derived from the ancient canal, was a narrow ditch on the west side of Cyprus street which during winter is full of water.

 It looks actually more like an open sewer judging from the odour and the fact that it continues under the street and beyond as an underground sewer.

 It's western end, point in which becomes a sewer too, is near Georgaki street, the thoroughfare opposite the stadium. 
 There are many canes which take advantage of the moisture provided by the ditch.

  Ι will visit the place again in the near future in search of further evidence of the ancient canal and investigate possible links with the ditch in Kotsela area.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Corfu then and now 1: A rare 1943 aerial view of the San Rocco area

  This 67-years-old photo was taken in September 1943 by the german fighters which so brutally bombarded Corfu Town. Various main points and features of this newer part of town could be recognised by looking at the photo with attention.
  First of all, the old Municipal theatre (1) can be seen and right behind it, in what is now the Prefecture building, an electricity factory was standing (12). Across the road, the running field (3) which exists today as well, was the place in which the young people had been practising sports. San Rocco square (2) was the focal point of the new town which was still growing by building apartment blocks. To the west, the square at the front of the old mental hospital (5) and to the southwest (7) Methodiou street hadn't been constructed yet! At the left bottom of the image, the San Salvatore hill wasn't hidden behind the Marasli street's (9) apartment blocks. Leoforos Alexandras (11) was a less densely populated boulevard with few apartments and more grand houses, some of which even exist today. Towards the southeast, the tennis courts (4) and the now gone old Bella Venezia buildings (8) are the most prominent features of this affluent part of town.

The 1943 aerial 
  Now this is another aerial covering the same area with the one above but about six decades newer. Now the whole area is more densely built up with 60s and 70s apartment blocks all over the place and lots of parked cars and traffic.

A recent aerial image from Google Earth which covers the very same area with the older one
  Compare yourselves the images, spot other differences between then and now and draw your own conclusions on which image you like more: A densely built up town or a spacious one with grand houses with gardens and tree lined avenues?