Monday, 5 November 2012

5 years John's Corfu world and...a goodbye...!

   Exactly five years ago, on November the 5th, 2007, I decided to create a blog about my beloved island, Corfu. Back then blogging was more popular than it is today. Now that social networking services are on the rise, there is the possibility to share things there without having to be directed to another site. For that reason, I decided to stop writting in this blog and update my facebook page more often. The fan page will be upgraded with more photos, links and stories. You don't need to have a facebook account in order to view the page. All you have to do is to visit and check regularly the following url:        

I would like to thank all of my followers for keeping up with this blog for half a decade. Your love and interest gave me the strength to continue blogging. Let's see some statistics now:

-  435 posts 
- 1.404 fans in Facebook
- 58.988 visits from 157 countries
- 113.061 individual visitors


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Panayia Neradziha and the ancient wall

  Panayia Neradziha is an important monument which clearly reveals its two construction periods: Classical and Byzantine. 

  The lower part is the only surviving and visible section of the wall of the ancient city of Kerkyra and its construction is dated to the Classical period (5th century AD). It is a fortification tower, probably connected to the nearby Hyllaian narbour, which is now the airport lagoon and with the north gate in the fortifying wall.

  In the Byzantine period, the tower was converted into a small aisleless basilica with a three-sided sanctuary apse and elaborate ornamental brickwork on the exterior. The latter is a typical feature of the Byzantine architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries, when the church was founded. From this period survives almost the entire north side, with two blind arches and an arched opening. In the post-Byzantine period (after 1453), the church was repaired and a narthex was added to the south side. According to the written sources, the church was in a ruinous state in 1753-4. The monument took on its present form when the belfry, the apse and the west wall collapsed cerca 1900. 

  The church must have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Theotokos Odigitria), the patron of Constantinople, for special prayers are still said every year on 23 August, her feast day, in front of the iconostasis. It probably acquired the epithet "Neradziha", which is still used today, from the surrounding district.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The doric temple of Artemis

  The sanctuary of Artemis was a significant place of worship of the ancient city of Corfu. This doric temple had 8 columns in the short and 17 in the long sides, while its interior was divided into a pronaos, cella and opisthodromos.

   Its western pediment is on display at the local archeological museum with Gorgo as its central figure. It dates back to the early 6th century (580 BC) and constitutes the earliest stone pediment with relief decoration in greek art.

  Ruins of the temple's foundation still survive as do as the altar and and part of the slate-paved road that connected the altar with the temple of Artemis

  Alongside with the temple's northern face, part of an analemma still remains, in front of which a crepidoma was discovered - possibly supporting the lateral columns.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Monastery of St. Theodore the Recruit and St. George Triumphant

  The Monastery of St. Theodore the Recruit and St. George Triumphant is the oldest (as regards the katholikon-main church) most important and most characteristic example of monastery architecture in Corfu. It combines an early christian basilica of the 5th century AD, the katholikon with the post-byzantine monastery architecture of 17th century which is typical of Corfu and the Ionian islands in general.

Αn early 19th century german map of Agioi Theodoroi area
  The katholikon was probably built in the 5th century as a three-aisled basilica with a narthex almost entirely out of materials from the nearby ancient greek temple of Artemis Gorgo. Access between the nave and the aisles (only the south aisle survives now) was through colonnades of piers, which are visible today inside the church and on the north facade. The large sermicircular sanctuary apse survives intact, as does the triple opening with relief crosses on the impost blocks of its colonnettes.

  It was probably in the Middle Byzantine period that the north aisle was lost, the colonnade was sealed up and the church was left with one only aisle and the nave. The present monastery complex was built in at least two phases between the 16th and the 18th century and it owned a considerable amount of property. The republican French, who succeeded the Venetians and occupied Corfu in 1797, seized the estate, closed the monastery down and installed a military garrison on the premises. In 1816 Sr. Thomas Maitland, British High Comissioner of the Ionian islands, repaired the monastery and restored it to its use as it is recorded by the relief inscription over the north entrance to the church. 

 During the Second World War the monastery was bombarded by the germans but it was restored by the nannies who lived there.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A walk through Paleopolis neighbourhoods

  Today we will walk through some suburban neighbourhoods of Corfu town built on Paleopolis, the ancient greek town. These neighbourhoods are the following: Desilla, Ayioi Thodoroi and Stratia.

  Our walk begins from the neighbourhood right next to now derelict Desillas factory (see the green point in the map below). 

  The area's houses are old and small. Most of them belonged to the Desillas factory workers next door. The factory manufactured cords which covered not only the greek market, but it exported its goods to Italy and beyond. It closed its doors in the early 1980s.

  Few metres away, a house bearing some statues made of plaster reminds us that we are approaching the area which in the antiquity was the heart of the old Corfu town.

  On Dessila street, there are some other interesting old buildings, some of them recently renovated, others left to their fate.

  As we walking down Desilla street, the Garitsa proper ends and we are heading towards the greener and more suburban Kanoni peninsula. We turn right and follow the road leading to the old Ag. Theodoroi monastery and to the byzantine Nerantzicha temple.

  You can get some good views of the old fortress while walking down Ag. Theodoroi street which feels like being in the countryside rather than a place few hundred metres away from busy town.

  The remnants of an industrial building (?) seem out of place in this peaceful area.

  Turning left towards the Mon Repos estate, there is Stratia, a neighbourhood built a couple of centuries ago in order to accomondate some venetian soldiers and their families.

  In the middle of Agioi Theodoroi street, there is the homonymous monastery, established in the 5th century although the current church and its adjacent buildings were built during the 16th-18th centuries. 

  There is a hill across the monastery. Its top is dominated by a couple of antennas which belong to the Civil Aviation Authority (the airport facilities are located pretty close to the neighbourhood).

 Next to the monastery there is the ancient greek temple of Artemida.

  Finally at the end of Ag. Theodoroi street, on the top of a hillock there are the remnants of the byzantine church of Nerantzicha, built on the ancient greek defensive wall of Paleopoli.

 Few hundred yards away, there is the southern entrance to the central cemetery of Corfu. At this point our walk has come to an end. In the following days there will be a couple of posts dedicated to the monastery, the Artemida temple and to Nerantzicha church.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Corfu: A Tale Of Two Islands

   An ITV documentary following the lives of expats and tourists enjoying the attractions of the Greek island.    

Episode: 1/8

  Tucked away in this jolly film about the lives of expats on Corfu is an extraordinary snippet. It is, according to Mary (a Shirley Valentine who arrived in 1980 as a holiday rep and married taverna owner Nico) cheaper to order certain food online from a UK supermarket and pay someone to deliver it than buy it locally. Such is the state of the Greek economy, even olive oil is cheaper.  The rest of the documentary focuses on the work of wedding planner Sally, another rep who stayed, although she didn’t marry because of her fiance’s fiercely traditional attitude to women.

Episode: 2/8

Marcus sells and develops multimillion pound, beachfront properties. He’s profiting from Corfu’s shift in industry from the agriculture that dominated the economy up until the 60’s, to tourism today. But as the island grows more popular it is becoming increasingly difficult to track down the picture-perfect plot.
Marcus’s most recent client is Oxfordshire housewife Susie who, along with husband Mark, has scoured Corfu for the perfect retreat from the stresses of life in the UK.
Further inland in the shadow of the “The Almighty”, Mount Pantokrator, lies a village where one couple are trying to reinvigorate the old ways. Mark Hendriksen and his Dutch wife Saskia Bosch fell in love with the abandoned village of Old Perithia while on holiday. The pair have now started an ambitious project to breathe life back into the idyll, and the first step is to get theirBoutique B&B up and running.

Episode 3/8:

This episode focuses on Bernard and Heather, who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary during their annual holiday. Also featured are Tim and Victoria, who love Corfu so much they built their own house there, and a couple of pop stars looking to make it big.

Episode 4/8:

The series meets 17-year-old Abi who is finding it hard to get work over the summer season and an ex-antique dealer from Kensington attempting to live the artistic dream in Corfu. The show also meets Scarlett who came to Corfu on holiday and never went back home.

Episode 5/8:

A hotel manager feels the impact of the economic downturn and a group of tourists takes a trip to Kavos in memory of a deceased friend. Plus, the story of a boat-mad Brit who lives life in the fast lane.

Episode 6/8:

A barrister considering a permanent move to Corfu, a man enjoying life in its agricultural heartland and a club promoter who has spent the past five years working in the lively resort of Kavos.

Episode 7/8:

Landscape architects Alithea and Marcus, and entrepreneur Trevor, who is launching his new venture in Kavos. Lucy, who only intended to complete one season in Corfu as a holiday rep but fell in love with a local, decided to stay.

Episode 8/8: 

 In the final episode, Lisa and Marc explain why they have spent their last 17 holidays at the same resort. Plus, Tanya talks about her success in the Kavos tattoo trade since relocating from Kent, and Mary reveals why her children are having to move abroad. 

Friday, 12 October 2012

"Here lived Don Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra 1571-1572"

  At last! The plaque which commemorates the fact that the greatest spanish writer spent a year in Corfu is up!

   Few people, including the locals, are aware of the fact that most probably Cervantes lived for a year in the Annunziata monastery recovering from his cut arm after the battle of Lepanto. Some people say that in fact the famous spanish writer spent a year in the St. Giustina monastery in Garitsa, where now stands the Blondell house.

 Whatever is the truth, the good thing is that the Annunziata monument will gain popularity, especially among the spanish tourists from the cruise ships. And who knows, maybe the spanish goverment will decide to help renovate it.