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.

No comments: