Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Forgotten Corfu 12: The Blondel house in Garitsa, built on the site of a little known catholic monastery

  This neoclassical mansion in Georgian colonial style was built during the british protection by a british man named Blondel at the point where Marasli meets the coastal Mitropolitou Athanasiou street.
   Blondel built the villa in the middle of an exotic garden which had many kinds of trees and plants. He did not hesitate to plant quite a few weird trees of the citrus family (Rutaceae), native to Australia and non-edible. Two or three of these rare trees, remnants of Blondel gardens, are still being preserved in the Garitsa coastal park, just opposite the building. Some of the locals can remember students from the nearby high school (now moved to another site) playing with the massive yellow-green fruits. Corfu's lover, Felicity Baxter, indicated that these trees are unique throughout Europe. Two identical trees exist in the courtyard of the old British Government House in Gaios, Paxos. 

Detail from an 18th century map showing the monastery of S. Giustina 
  On the same site that Blondel's villa was built, the catholic monastery of Santa Giustina (Santa Gioustina) could be found. The monastery was built to honor Santa Giustina, whose memory is honored by the Western Church in October 7, the day when in 1571 the united christian fleet won the ottoman one in the battle of Nafpaktos (Lepanto). The monastery is being considered the oldest naval hospital after that founded in Livorno, Italy in 1570 and was used to hospitalise those who took part in the battle of Nafpaktos. 


The villa in the early 80s with the façade exposed
  Today the pink villa is squezed by the modern neighbouring apartment blocks, hiding its ornamental façade.

1 comment:

angelap said...

Interesting post. The weird fruit is the Osage Orange - interesting history, look it up on google.
There are several of these trees in Corfu including one at Kassiopi - I always wondered how they got to Corfu!