Listed 25 sub titles with search on: History
for wider area of: "KERKYRA
The island of Corfu was inhabited in the Palaeolithic Era. At that
period Corfu was a continuation of the mountain range of Pindos,
was joined to the mainland of Greece and constituted a headland of Epirus.
The human presence is also ascertained on the island at the Neolithic Period and
the Bronze Age.
The great importance of the geographical position of Corfu, on the
sea route to the shores of the Adriatic and Italy, caused, according to Diodorus
Siculus, Strabo and Plutarch, the interest of the Eretrians (people from the island
of Euboea) around 750 BC.
The Euboean city-state was overthrown in 734 BC by a group of Corinthians
under the leadership of Chersicrates, of the aristocratic family of Bacchiadae,
descendants of Hercules. The island was named Corkyra and the doric writing prevailed.
The new Corinthian colony, that was named Chersoupolis, was founded
to the south of the present city, on the peninsula we know today as Palaeopolis.
The new inhabitants brought from the metropolis their customs, worship and way
of government. The favourable conditions for the autonomous development of the
colony were obvious from the beginning and very soon Corfu was promoted to a big
commercial and naval power of the Ancient Greek world. The city acquired powerful
war-fleet and a colony of her own: Epidamnus
on the coast of Illyria (current
Durrazzo), successfully confronting
Corinth in the trade, a fact that soon led the two cities to conflict.
Thucydides mentions that the oldest sea battle known to have been
taken place between the Greeks occurred in 664 BC, between Corinth
and Corfu, in which Corfu triumphed.
During this period, by the influence of Corinthian artists, great
works of art were made, like the lioness on the cenotaph of Menecrates at Garitsa,
the doric temple at Kardaki, and the temples of Hera and Artemis with the famous
pediment of Gorgon. The pediment is exhibited in the archaeological museum of
the city and is the oldest stone pediment that has been found until today.
After the death of the tyrant of Corinth Periandros (585 BC), Corcyra
recovered its independence from the metropolis Corinth and gradually reached the
acme of its prosperity. Already a naval power offered 60 triremes for the war
against the Persians. Around this time circulated its first coins.
The alliance with Athens and the entanglement of Corfu in the Peloponnesian
War (431-404 BC), which bursts out on the occasion of the voluntary adhesion of
the colony of Epidamnus to the Corinthian camp and the consequential civil war
between the aristocrats and the democrats (backed by Corinth and Athens
respectively), had, as a result, the gradual weakening of the island, its entanglement
in serious war conflicts and the final collapse and decline.
Corfu in 229 BC, after several raids and suzerainties, was forced
to ask the protection of the Romans and finally yielded to them, in order to protect
itself from the Illyric pirates. Under the Roman sovereignty remained for the
next five centuries (337 AD).
The Romans used the island as naval base for their expeditions in
mainland Greece and the East. Nevertheless, in 31 BC, on the eve of the naval
battle in Actium, Agrippa,
an ally of Octavian, destroyed the city, to punish the Corcyreans for having sided
with Mark Antony. A long period of decline began.
Later the Roman Emperors granted a number of privileges to Corcyra
in acknowledgement of the assistance that the city offered to the roman fleet.
The city maintained a relative autonomy with her own laws and currency. During
this period many notable Romans bought land-properties and built luxurious villas
in various parts of the island. Amongst the Romans that visited Corcyra was the
notorious rhetor (speaker) and politician Cicero, the Emperors Vespasian, Antoninus
Pius, Septimius Severus, and Nero, who, as tradition has it, sang before the altar
of Zeus Cassius in Cassiope, (a city of great acme during this period).
The Romans attended to the water supply of the ancient city transporting
water with vaulted aquaduct from the area of Katakalou. The most important event
of this period is the Christianization of Corfu by two disciples of St. Paul,
Jason and Sosipater, which occurred in the first half of the 1st century AD. Corcyra
was one of the first Greek cities to convert to Christianity. One of the first
martyrs on the island was the daughter of the Roman vice-consul, the young Kerkyra,
later sanctified by the Christian Church. In the next two centuries Christianity
prevailed on the island and the Church of Corcyra, already in acme, participated
with her bishop, Apollodorus, in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea
of Bethany in 325 AD.
This extract is cited May 2003 from the Municipality of Kerkyra URL below, which contains images.
Benefactors of the place
They installed the first printing press in Greece and thus established the use of the Greek language on the island of Corfu.
They established the Ionian Academy, the first alma Mater of the country, with the encouragement of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first Governor of Greece.
They established the great Agios Iakovos Theatre in Loggia.
Byzantine period (324-1453 AD)
After the division of the Roman Empire in the Eastern and the Western
parts, in 395 AD, Corcyra devolved to the Eastern Roman Empire and followed the
fates and the adventures of Byzantine Empire until 1204, when the crusaders of
the Fourth Crusade conquered Constantinople.
At the beginning of the Medieval Era the first churches of the new
Christian religion were built in the ancient city next to the old temples. The
calm rhythms of the ancient life were interrupted in 455 AD by the Vandalic raids.
Up to the 11th century Huns, Vandals, Goths and Arabs threatened and repeatedly
plundered the old city of Chersoupolis. The reaction from Constantinople for this
outmost point of the Empire was not always immediate. During the reign of the
Emperor Justinian I in 534 AD, his renowned general Belissarius passes from Corfu
on his way to Italy.
However, the occupation and the pillage of the island by the king
of the Eroule Goths, Totila, in 551 AD, was decisively important for the later
life of the city. During that raid the ancient city Chersoupolis was devastated
and the inhabitants began gradually to abandon her and constructed another, to
the north, in a place naturally-fortified, between the two rock-peaks of the nearby
peninsula, which was gradually reinforced and offered the medieval name to the
city: Coryfo or Corfoi, Corfu.
In the 7th century, Byzantium divided its territories into "themes"
and Coryfo was initially included in the territory of Epirus, but by the time
of Leo the Wise (9th century), it came under the jurisdiction of the maritime
"theme" of Cephalonia.
During the next years the Slavs made devastating raids and Corfu suffered
repeated attacks. In one of them, in 933 AD, the bishop of Corfu Arsenius, the
head of the local Church, played an important role in the defence of the city.
After his death, in 953 AD, his sanctification and his nomination as Patron Saint
of the city reveals the difficulties that Corfu had to face in this period.
In 968 AD, the Byzantine name Coryfo appears for the first time when
the bishop of Cremona Liutprand wrote to the Emperor of Byzantium Nicephorus Phocas:
'ad Coryphus parvenimus' (we reached Corfu). During this period, when the Macedonian
Dynasty reigns in Constantinople, Corfu enjoys relative safety conditions. This
is deduced from the construction of the monumental church of the Saints Jason
and Sosipater, at the end of the 10th century in Palaeopolis, outside the city-walls.
This peaceful period ends permanently with the first act of the Western
expansionism. Four times in a period of one century (1081 - 1185) the Normans
of Robert Guiscard, soldier of fortune and conqueror of the Byzantine territories
in southern Italy, occupied the island, which henceforth is of great importance
for the safety of the Eastern Empire. In one of these attempts, in 1147 AD, the
Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus tried repeatedly and only after a ten months'
siege and many difficulties recaptured Corfu, a 'strongly fortified city' as Anna
Comnene characteristically reports. After the retrieval of the Normans, the Emperors
granted many important tax-privileges to the clergy and the residents of the walled
town (kastrini), but the Western expansionism was not to leave Corfu in peace.
This extract is cited May 2003 from the Municipality of Kerkyra URL below, which contains images.
Catastrophes of the place
Bombings from German airplanes
There were many victims and catastrophes of many historical buildings, the Ionian Academy, the Parliament, the Public Library, the Public Theatre, the House of Solomos, many historical churches and other buildings.
Iovianos, bishop, 5th century
Within the area of Paleopolis, Iovianos destroyed the ancient temples, altars and other buildings of the ancient Greek civilization.
Colonizations by the inhabitants
Epidamnus (Dyrrachium), ca. 627 B.C.
The city was founded by the Corinthians of Corcyra with exiled people from the metropolis, the city of Corinth.
Leucas, Ambracia, Anactorium, 7th c. B.C.
With colonists from the metropolis, the Corinthians of Corcyra colonized the above-mentioned cities in the middle of the 7th cent. B.C.
Sir Thomas Maitland, governor of Malta, the second son of Lord Lauderdale,
was appointed by the British first Lord High Commissioner of the island (1816-1826)
and was called to impose the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1815) by which the
"United States of the Ionian Islands" were independent and free states, but under
foreigner (British) protection. The first Constitution that the Lord High Commissioner
himself drew up was undemocratic and very shortly caused resentments.
Contrary to the Treaty of Paris, England considered the islands as
colony and Ioannis Kapodistrias asked for the replacement of "King Tom", as he
was sneeringly nicknamed, because of his autocratic ways. In 1818 the Most Distinguished
Order of St Michael and St George was instituted and Maitland was appointed first
Grand Master of the New Order, who suggested the erection of a new Hall to serve
as Treasury for the Order, a residence for the Lord High Commissioner and a chamber
for the legislative bodies of the Heptanese.
The anti-Hellenic attitude of Maitland during the Greek War of Independence,
his betrayal of Parga to the Turks, the execution of the patriots and the confiscation
of their properties made his replacement imperative.
In 1824 Maitland died in Malta and Sir Frederick Adam, head of the
Army on the Seven Islands, succeeded him. Tough in the beginning, almost philhellene
later, he built the countryseat of the Lord High Commissioners in Palaeopolis,
later to be named Mon Repos, he looked after the road system and solved permanently
the problem of the water supply of the city with the construction of an aquadact,
a pioneer work for its age. During his governorship the Ionian Academy was re-established
thanks to the philhellene Frederic North fifth Earl of Guilford. After
Sir Frederic Adam the Lords High Commissioners governed the Heptanese according
to the British interests, lawfully to the British government's decisions and as
a result the Corfiots were showing increasing displeasure towards to Protector.
Nevertheless, the British took care of the public services, the drainage system
and the sanitary system. The town-planning and the expansion of the city with
strict rules for building, contributed to the high level construction of buildings.
The British looked after the defence of the city and constructed powerful fortifications
on the New Fortress, on the island of Vido and other peripheral redoubts, which
were demolished just before the Union of the Seven
Islands with Greece.
Among the beneficial works of this period was: the recognition of
the Greek language as the official language of the State, the revision of the
Constitution in 1848, which did not prohibit the freedom of the press, and the
foundation of artistic, literary and financial institutions (School of Fine Arts
1815, Reading Society 1836, Philharmonic Society 1840, Ionian Bank 1837).
The presence of the national poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos, in
Corfu (1828-1857) stimulated the already flourishing cultural life and became
the basis for the creation of the 'Heptanesian School' in the Arts and the Letters.
This extract is cited May 2003 from the Municipality of Kerkyra URL below, which contains images.
Foundation/Settlement of the place
The city was built in 550 A.D. under the name Koryfo.
First French Occupation (Republican French)
The end of the 18th century found Europe in arms and the history of
Corfu cannot be isolated from the international developments and the military
antagonisms that the foreign powers sought in the Ionian region.
In 1979, Napoleon Bonaparte abolished the Venetian State and Campo
Formio's Treaty transferred to France the sovereignty of the Seven Islands and
the Venetian possessions on the opposite coast of Epiros. The last Venetian governor
of the island, Carlo Aurelio Widmann, delivered the island to the French soldiers
of the Corsican Lieutenant-General Anselmo Gentili, who was accepted with great
enthusiasm by the population of Corfu.
According to the proclamations of the French Revolution, which were
already known to the island, the first concern was the abortion of the aristocratic
regime, the formation of a municipal council under the leadership of the democratic
party and the presidency of Spyridon Theotokis, and the application of the French
Constitution of 1795. Amidst celebrations the Tree of Freedom was planted in the
Esplanade Sq. in Corfu, the golden book of the Nobles, "Libro d'Oro", was burned
and the French flag was raised on the Fortresses.
However, shortly afterwards the celebrations were replaced by doubt
and resentment. The imposition of new taxes, the levy under the term "loan", the
looting, the pillages and the desecrations of the churches and of the religious
symbols, and the disproval of the hopes for the liberation of the rest of Greece
from the Turks, turned the initial enthusiasm of the Corfiots into an open animosity.
Among the beneficial works of this period were: the foundation of
a municipal library, the organisation of the public education, the establishment
of the first on "Greek" soil printing press, the care for better operation of
the courts and policing, the protection of the public health as well as the wide
use of the Greek language in the public documents.
Second French Occupation (Imperial French)
In September 1807 Napoleon, already Emperor of France, sent his General
Cesar Berthier in Corfu, who became governor-general of the island. He abolished
the Septinsular Republic and turned the islands into provinces of the French Empire.
Because of the strategic position of Corfu in the Adriatic,
Napoleon had the island's fortifications brought up to date, assigning the administration
of the seven islands to the wise General Francois-Xavier Donzelot, who was ordered
to 'hold the Seven Islands at all costs in the event of a British attack'. The
line of defence was strengthened with the construction of new redoubts (Lambovitissa
and Vido) and also the six new independent peripheral batteries, the ground between
them being protected by the artillery's crossfire.
The French improved the street-layout and the architecture of the
city. Trees were also planted in the Spianada sq. and on its western side, a long
row of buildings with arcades on the ground floor, today known as "Liston", was
constructed on the plans of the French engineer Lesseps, who reproduced the architectural
style of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. They introduced new cultures, among which
those of the potato and tomato, the institution of vaccination, and the foundation
of the School of Fine Arts. However, their most important work was the foundation
of the Ionian Academy (1808), the first university of modern Greece.
By 1814 the star of Napoleon was setting. Following the political
developments, General Donzelot received the order to surrender Corfu to the British
General Sir James Campell on 26 June 1814. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 adopted
the proposal of the representative of Russia, Ioannis Kapodistrias, and the Ionian
Islands were recognised as a free and independent state, under the name "United
States of the Ionian Islands", with Corfu as capital, under the sole protection
of Great Britain.
This extract is cited Oct 2003 from the Municipality of Kerkyra URL below, which contains images.
Greek State (1830 to today)
The Union of Corfu with Greece
On May 21st 1864, after several intensive diplomatic consultations,
Corfu and the rest of the Ionian Islands were united with Greece. The Ionian Parliament
of the XIII period had previously taken the decision, which was ratified by the
British government. The Union was facilitated by the election in the throne of
Greece of a Danish prince as King Georgios I of Greece (a figure trusted by the
British) and from that time onwards the Ionian Islands shared the same fait as
the rest of Greece.
Although the treaty provided a regime of 'permanent neutrality' for
Corfu, the island became involved in the military conflicts of the 20th century.
The enlisted Corfiots soldiers participated with the 10th infantry regiment in
the war of 1897 and that of 1912-13. In the Balkan Wars the 10th infantry regiment
was part of the III Division and took part in decisive battles. The 10th infantry
regiment and its commander, Colonel Anastasios Papoulias, took part in the battle
of Sarantaporo and Giannitsa.
It also fought in the battle of Kilkis
and had the honour to liberate that city. After the encampment in Vathylakos near
Salonica, the 10th regiment
took part in the Second Balkan War, in the battle of Avret-Issar and in the battle
of Doirani. During that war conquered the town of Stromnitsa and also took part
in the battle of Vladimirovo. The Corfiot regiment had 522 dead and 1367 wounded
during the Balkan Wars and its war-flag was honoured with the War-Cross of the
First Class and the Bravery Medal of the First Class.
During the First World War, the island was used as a base for the
British, French and Italian allied armies, while the Serbian troops were allowed
to set up camp here after their defeat in 1916. For some time the Municipal Theatre
of Corfu was the seat of the Serbian Parliament and since that time strong bonds
of friendship exist with the Serbian people.
In 1923 the city was bombarded and temporarily occupied by the Italian
navy, on the pretext of the assassination of general Tellini on the Albanian borders.
During the Second World War the 10th infantry regiment was assigned
with the defence of Corfu. The regiment took part in the so-called 'Latzides attempt',
which, despite the misfortune that met, the heroism and self-sacrifice Corfiot
soldiers were made obvious once more. After Greece's surrender to the overpowering
German might, Corfu was occupied once more by the Italians. The first Sunday of
November 1941 pupils of the High Schools of Corfu demonstrated their opposition
to the occupation and confronted the Italian army. It was the first act of Resistance
in Greece. Many Corfiots were enlisted as partisans in E.L.A.S. and E.D.E.S. (partisan
groups) and crossed to the opposite coast of Epirus
were the active Resistance to the conquerors was taking place. In September 14th
1943 Corfu was bombarded by the Germans. The incendiary bombs destroyed churches,
houses, whole blocks of neighbourhoods, especially the Jewish getto, and many
important buildings, the Ionian Parliament, the Municipal Theatre, the Municipal
Library and others. The Germans departed from Corfu on October 9th 1944, but they
had previously sent about 2000 Jewish Corfiots in concentration camps in Germany.
During the years of dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974) many Corfiots
were enlisted in resistance groups, but the case of Kostas Georgakis is unique
in the whole of Greece. The 22years-old Corfiot student of geology with an act
of self-sacrifice and a spirit of dynamic protest, which could not bear to see
Greece under the military regime, set himself on fire the first morning hours
of 19th September 1970 in the Matteoti Sq. in the Italian city of Genoa. For security
reasons his body was buried in Corfu four months later, his self-sacrifice though,
a rare event for that time, caused international sensation and was considered
as one of the most important resistance acts of that period. Later the Hellenic
State and his homeland Corfu honoured the man, who with his life became a symbol
of resistance and patriotism, herald of the students' sacrifice in Polytechnion
The second half of the 20th century reserved a better luck for Corfu.
The island healed the wounds of the war and set forth a new journey to the productive
activities and energetic offer, exploiting the resources of the historic past
with respect to the peaceful invasions of people and civilisations that started
visiting the island. In 1952 'Club Mediteranee' begins to operate and a new concept
starts to become reality. From 1960 onwards tourism becomes one of the two most
important wealth-producing resources. The gradual economic growth brings consequently
the rising of the cultural level, which after 1984, will be materialized with
the foundation of the Ionian University and the beginning of a new intellectual
life for Corfu.
Το απόσπασμα παρατίθεται τον Μάιο 2003 από την ακόλουθη ιστοσελίδα, με φωτογραφίες, του Δήμου Κερκυραίων
The oldest naval-battle between Greeks, 664 B.C.
The rivals were the Corinthians colonists of Corcyra and the metropolis, the city of Corinth. The Corcyreans won the battle.
The Municipality of Corfu (First Class) was established on January
6th 1866 but the history of local government in Corfu goes back many years. There
was representation of the class of the Nobles in the Angevin (Anjou) period (14th
century). This representation of the class of the Nobles (Corpo dei Nobili) was
legislated and further organized during the Venetian rule. It was named 'Council
of Corfu' and its members were selected from the most prominent Greek and Italian
families. The Council's opinion on matters of local government was never disputed
from the Venetian authorities until the end of Venetian rule. On the arrival of
the Republican French on the island (1797), the local government in Corfu takes
the form of transition government in which all the ranks participated. A provisional
municipality was established, consisted of 48 members, bourgeois, craftsmen, and,
for the first time, peasants. The presidency was given to the leader of the Democratic
Party, Count Spyridon George Theotokis. One of the first things to do was to burn
the book-emblem of the Nobles (Libro d' Oro) and to plant the Tree of Liberty
in the Esplanade Square (Kato platia).
After the deliverance of the Seven
Islands to the Russian and Turkish allied fleet (1799), Admiral Usakof established
a local government in every island in which all the ranks were represented, nobles,
bourgeois (merchants and craftsmen) and even the peasants in some cases. The Senate
was established in Corfu with participants from all seven islands and she had
the supreme supervision of the local governments (named the 'petit councils').
A little later and according to the Constitution of 1800, that was named 'Byzantine',
the first Greek independent state, after Byzantium, was established and the local
government takes the responsibilities of a full administration (Gerousia) with
Count Spyridon George Theotokis as president.
During the British occupation the island of Corfu becomes the seat
of the High Commissioner, the seat of the Government and of the legislative, judicial
and administrative authorities. The Provincial (Eparchiako) Council administered
the local government and carried on working even after the Union with Greece until
1866. The Provincial Council decided on 1st June 1864 to offer the use of land
and the use of the Summer Palace, on the suburb Agios Panteleimon (later called
Mon Repos), to the newly arrived King George I of Greece, in order to be used
for the summer-holiday needs of the members of the royal family.
In 1866 the Municipality of Corfu was established, which included
the city of Corfu and the suburbs Saroco, Garitsa, Anemomilos,
Stratia, Figareto, Mandouki and the islands Vido and Lazareto.
The most important event of this period was the demolition in 1893 of Porta Reala,
one of the most important monuments of European cultural Heritage. The attempts
of the Prefectorial authorities and of many journalists in the Greek and European
press, couldn't persuade the Municipal Council to recall its decision and a little
after the carnival of 1893, Porta Reala was demolished, sacrificed to the political
In 1912 according to the Law "For the introduction of Municipalities
and Communities" the municipalities on the island cease to exist except that of
Corfu City. The Municipality of Corfu incorporates the biggest part of the Potamogitonon
Municipality, namely the suburb of Potamos
and the communities of Kyra Chrisikou,
and Gouvia. During the Italian
fascist occupation the lawful Mayor Spyridon Kollas was violently removed and
replaced successively by several ordered Mayors.
After the Second World War, in 1952, another important even occurred.
Again the target was the cultural heritage of Corfu. In 31st March 1952 the Mayor
of Corfu Stamatios Desyllas and the Municipal Council took unanimously the decision
to demolish the Municipal Theatre of Corfu, already bombed by the Nazi Germans
in 1943. The Municipal Theatre was demolished, despite the recommendations to
the contrary from many learned Corfiots.
The Colonel Regime replaced in 1967 the lawful Mayor Spyridon Rath
and until 1974 the local government was exerted by ordered for that purpose councils.
After the restoration of Democracy a new smooth political life was
established which caries on until today. Since 1997 in the scope of the reformation
of the local government and according to 'Kapodistrias' plan (Act 2539/4-12-1997),
the communities of Alepou,
Kanalia and Evropouli
were incorporated in the Municipality of Corfu.
This text is cited May 2003 from the Municipality of Kerkyra URL below, which contains images.
The Municipal Theater of Corfu
At the end of the 19th century San Giacomo theatre, the first theatre
in South-Eastern Europe, was considered by the Municipality of Corfu that could
not accomplish his mission and satisfy the needs of a constantly increasing public
audience. The decision for the construction of a new municipal theatre was taken
in 1885, when the Mayor Georgios Theotokis was in office. The building started
in 1893 by the Mayor Michael Theotokis. Due to the exceedingly high cost, the
work was completed in 1902, on plans made by the architect Conrado Pergolesi,
who used as a prototype the Milanese "Teatro la Scalla". It was 39m in height
and in front of his entrance was a gallery decorated with 6 columns of the toscanic
order. Externally, the upper floor was decorated with 4 semi-columns of the corinthian
order and a gable. At the center of gable there was the shield of Corfu in relief,
engarlanded with a laurel wreath. The entrance of the Theater was decorated with
huge purple columns and the high walls were frescoed with the portraits of famous
composers, made by Italian artists.
The Municipal Theater had 64 theatre-boxes arranged in three tiers
and a gallery on the top. Each box was luxurious and individually decorated; it
had jalousies, a small compartment with valuable mirrors and screen, and each
bow was exclusively gaslit. The stalls area was luxurious and richly decorated,
with purple velvet armchairs. The No 1 box was reserved for the Theater Committee
and behind this box was the office of the Committee, where the valuable archive
of San Giacomo's Theater was neatly kept. The first box in the second row was
the specially looked-after Royal box, reserved for the members of the Greek Royal
family, when they were in Corfu. Above the third row of boxes was the gallery.
The popular classes of the city, of Mandouki, Garitsa and the suburbs made all
the necessary sacrifices in order to obtain their ticket to the opera. Besides,
they were the passionate judges of the performances and awarded the ovation to
the artists. This applause was very much wanted, because the certificate "Applaudito
a Corfu" was a first class passport for the Italian or European tours of the operas.
In front of the stalls area was the proscenium with the places for
the orchestra that accompanied the opera. The whole of the orchestra was comprised
of Corfiot performers and only one Harp was brought from abroad. The musicians
performed 10 operas per season, starting in September and ending the last Sunday
before the Ash Monday.
The stage was big and spacious in order to handle the special needs
of every performance. Behind the sage was the backstage, spacious and comfortable
for the personnel of every opera, with many offices and all the necessary stage-compartments
for the perfect execution of the performances. The stage-curtain was the old stage-curtain
of San Giacomo Theater. Inspirator and creator of that stage-curtain, was the
advisor of the Academy of Fine Arts of Venice,
Giovanni Buzatto, who made the stage-curtain of Teatro Fenice in Venice, or according
to some others Napoleone Genovesi. The painting showed the festivities during
the reception of Odysseus in the island of Phaeacian king Alcinoos and was originally
used for the scenographic needs of the first theatrical performance in Greek,
by the same name, in San Giacomo Theater. It remained there after the performance,
used as stage-curtain and later was transferred to the New Theater.
The Theater was considered as one of the best in Europe. The acoustics
were incomparable in any technical aspect and had the ability, like a sound box,
to amplify correctly even the faintest sound. Its capacity could be estimated
to about 1,000 and it had a large foyer, decorated on the ceilings with splendid
frescos made by Italian artists that represented ancient Greek gods and several
musical themes. The balls that were held in the theater's foyer have since remained
The Municipal Theatre was inaugurated on December 7th, 1902 and staged
Wagner's "Lohengrin". Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany attended one of the performances
when he was in Corfu visiting his 'Achillion' palace.
The mythology that the Corfiots developed about their theatre, in
every case shows that even in the first decades of the 20th century, the opera
was a spectacle that was capable of moving even the popular classes. The audience
was so much acquainted to the opera, that when in 1907 a symphonic performance
was given for the first time, by the Old Philharmonic, the public received it
with unprecedented astonishment for the Corfiot standards.
The performances continued regularly for the hole of the first quarter
of the 20th century and Italian operas were called in Corfu by the administrative
authorities of the Theatre.
After 1923, when Italy bombarded Corfu, the Italian operas ceased
to appear in Corfu. From that time on Greek operas were called under the direction
of the maestros Dionisius Lavrangas, Alexandros Kiparissis, Stefanos Valtetsiotis
and others. Since then, dramatic plays were also staged and artists like Marika
Kotopouli and Pelos Katselis appeared in Corfu, as well as many operettas of the
The Municipal Theatre was not only an Art-monument but also a historical
one. On its premises the exiled Serbian parliament, the Skoupsina, held up meetings
in 1916, which decided the creation of the new Unified Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
In 1923 the Theatre's boxes were used to accommodate the refugees from Asia
Minor, while during the Italian Fascist occupation of the island movies were
The building cost of the Municipal Theatre was raised to about 1,000,000
British golden sovereigns, a huge amount of money for that time, leaving the Municipality
of Corfu with no option than to borrow this amount, the quittance of which was
arranged for 1941. Unfortunately the Theater ceased to exit the night of September
13th 1943, blackletter night when German incendiary bombs burned to ashes a big
part of the city of Corfu. Together with many other monuments, the bombs incinerated
the Municipal Theatre with all the invaluable archive of the musical theatre of
Corfu. The only thing that escaped fire was the above-mentioned stage-curtain
that luckily was not in the Theater that night. Recently that stage-curtain was
restored by the Municipality
of Corfu and is again exposed to the Corfiots, precious treasure of the artistic
history of Corfu.
Unfortunately, in the postwar period, the destroyed building was considered
unworthy, "without any architectural and historical value", by the architect Ioannis
Kollas and the civil engineers Georgios Linardos and Renos Paipetis. Their opinion
was announced to the Mayor, Stamatis Desillas and to the Municipal Council of
that period, which unanimously decided the demolition of the Theatre at a meeting
held on March 31st, 1952. In short time the Municipal Theatre was demolished,
despite the intensive protestations of many Corfiots, which they were extended
even to the courtrooms. Many years latter another theatre was built at the same
spot, but the old-one never ceased to exist in the harts of the Corfiots. This
is testified by the hundreds of photographs that are hanged everywhere, from privet
offices to public buildings, expressing a romantic nostalgia for the lost glory.
This text is cited May 2003 from the Municipality of Kerkyra URL below, which contains images.
Roman period (31 BC-324 AD)
Roman domination, 229 B.C.-337 A.D.
RUSSO-TURKISH OCCUPATION - SEPTINSULAR REPUBLIC
The Russo-Turkish alliance was formed to counteract Napoleon's expansionary
plans in the East. The allied forces begun to capture the islands (1799-1807)
exploiting the resentment of the inhabitants of the Ionian Islands against the
After a four-month siege, in March 1799, the Russian admiral Ushakov
gained control of Corfu and assigned a provisional government on the island consisted
by a number of nobles and certain bourgeois. The constitution of Septinsular Republic
in 1800 was considered an important event. It was the first Greek State after
1453 and was recognised as semi-autonomous republic, with Corfu as capital, obliged
to pay tribute to Turkey. The delegates of the Ionian Islands in Istanbul drew
up a Constitution, which was approved by the "Sublime Porte". It was named "Byzantine"
and was very liberal for its time.
The return in an aristocratic way of government and the consequent
exclusion of the other classes from power brought serious agitations. The Senate,
in order to confront the situation, gave dictatorial powers to its president,
Spyridon Theotokis, but the situation could not be controlled effectively.
The most important act of this period was the reestablishment of the
Orthodox Bishop of Corfu. Unfortunately, the 'de facto' recognition of the right
of intervention of Russia in the internal and exterinal policy of the Septinsular
Republic led inevitably to the loss of its autonomy and Russia, as the final regulator
of the political matters, ceded the Seven Islands for a second term to Napoleon
at the Franco-Russian Treaty of Tilsit in 1807.
This extract is cited May 2003 from the Municipality of Kerkyra URL below, which contains images.
Eretrians of Euboea, 770-750 B.C.
Hersicrates of Corinth, 734 B.C.
He founded with political refugees from Corinth a colony in Palaeopolis, which is situated in the region of Canoni, after having driven away the inhabitants. The Corinthians dominated in the island from 734 until 435 B.C.
, 25/8/1537 - 11/9/1537
He failed to take the city but he plundered the island.
Raid of Turkish armada
, 5/8/1716 - 22/8/1716
Venetian period in Crete (1204-1669)
FIRST PERIOD OF VENETIAN RULE - DESPOTAT OF EPIRUS - ANGEVIN RULE
After the conquest of Byzantine Empire by the crusaders of the Fourth
Crusade and on the basis of the terms of the treaty known as Partitio Terrarum
Imperii Romaniae (October 1204), the Venetians laid claim to Corfu and other imperial
territories on the Adriatic. Showing determination to seize these territories,
the Venetian fleet appeared in front of Corfu and the admiral Giacomo Morosini
succeeded in overthrowing the Genoese corsair Leone Vetrano, who for a short period
had occupied the island. Angelocastro (Castel Sant' Angelo) The Venetians in their
first short-term presence in Corfu (1204-1214) divided the land among ten Venetian
noblemen, who were to have hereditary possession on two conditions: that they
should always keep the fortifications of the island in good repair and that they
should pay 500 gold pieces a year to the Most Serene Republic.
In 1214 the island was captured by Michael I Angelos Comnenus Doukas,
Despot of Epirus. The new ruler and his successors, of the same race and of the
same faith as the Corfiots, renewed the older privileges and strengthened the
defence of the island, improving the fortifications of the medieval city. According
to the local tradition, during this period the castles of Gardiki and Angelocastro
(Castel Sant' Angelo) were constructed on the west coast of the island.
The rule of the Despots of Epirus ended in 1259, when the Despot Michael
II Doukas ceded Corfu and regions of Epirus as dowry to his son-in-law Manfred,
King of the Two Sicilies, which Manfred had already seized. After the death of
Manfred in the battle of Beneventum (1266) and according to the treaty of Viterbo,
the victor of this battle, Charles I of Anjou, took possession of Manfred's lands
including Corfu and for the next 120 years (1267-1386) the island was under the
The pro-Catholic Angevin princes, who reigned from Naples, oppressed
the Orthodox faith and during this period the Church of Corfu met with the first
humiliations. The conquerors abolished immediately the office of the Orthodox
Bishop and in his place a prelate of lower rank was appointed, the 'Great Protopapas',
who had no right of ordination. The title of Archbishop Corfu was given to a Catholic
prelate, with no consideration to the small number of Catholic population on the
island. The Orthodox Church lost all of her revenues from the ecclesiastical lands,
which were given to the Catholics. The magnificent church, which was built in
the 10th century, the Cathedral of the medieval city dedicated to the Apostles
Peter and Paul, where the bones of the Saints Arsenius, Jason and Sosipater were
kept, became the Latin Cathedral. Most of the Orthodox churches became Catholic.
The pursuit of a securer shelter resulted in the accumulation of an
increasing number of inhabitants in the fortified city around the two peaks of
the rocks. Those in excess began to settle near the fortified city, outside the
walls and thus 'el borgo' (the suburb) was created, known by the name 'Xopoli'
(outer town), where the next decades an increasing number of residents settled
in and finally, 'el borgo' replaced the medieval city in all functions.
During this period, according to certain scholars, the Castel Nuovo
- the landward castle - in the Old Fortress was constructed, but other evident
Angevin architecture on the island has not yet been found. Nevertheless the feudal
organisation of the Angevins lasted much longer. They divided the island in four
'bailata', those of Gyros, Oros, Messi and Lefkimmi, with a 'bailos' at the head
of each. It was this social structure that set the basis for the development of
the aristocratic character of the Corfiot society and later became the abutment
of the Venetian rule on the island.
SECOND PERIOD OF VENETIAN RULE
In the second half of the 14th century the politico-military affairs
in the Eastern Mediterranean are dreary. The Angevins of southern Italy, already
in serious dynastic crisis, are no longer interested for the reconquering of the
Eastern Roman Empire and the occupation of the island of Corfu, which was to be
used as a base, has no longer any special meaning. Corfu had nothing more to expect
from the old Balkan and Byzantine world. The Ottoman stormcloud had already risen
over the Balkans. The Eastern Roman Empire collapses and seeks support from the
Pope and the Western sovereigns, who had been entangled in the Hundred Years'
In a desperate attempt to save Constantinople the delegates met at
the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438 and decided the Union of the Churches.
The Emperor Ioannis VIII Paleologos on his way to Italy together his elite escort
(the humanists Johannes Bessarion, Georgios Gemistos Plethon, Georgios Scholarios,
Markos Eugenikos) passed from Corfu and attended a Service in the church of Agios
Antonios in the presence of the Patriarch of Constantinople Josef II.
The Corfiots realising that had nothing to expect from Byzantium,
looking for a powerful protector, found shelter in the Venetian Council.
The island accepted unequalled appreciation by the Senate and the
Grand Council of Venice and was considered, from the very beginning, as "the key"
for the maritime interests of the Serenissima Republica di San Marco, which had
every reason, but also the forces, to check the sea-routes to the Levant.
At the end of the 14th century the renewed interest of Venice for
the island managed to create a pro-Venetian movement in the ranks of the nobles
of Corfu and as a result, in May 1386 five elected deputies of the Nobles' Council
of Corfu went to Venice to request the approval of the Senate for the voluntary
subjugation of Corfu. After the approval, the deputies gave the necessary oath
of obedience under the term that the Venetians should eternally defend the city
and the island.
The Venetians forces headed by Giovanni Miani, Admiral of the Gulf,
occupied the island and a decree (chrysobull), which was issued in January 1387,
ratified all the old privileges and arranged the relations of the island with
the Most Serene Republic, ensuring in return the fidelity and the devotion of
the new subjects to the only democracy of the time, as the Venetian oligarchy
Shortly, in 1402, the Venetian Senate bought Corfu and its dependencies
from the Kingdom of Naples for 30.000 gold ducats, thus formally legalising its
occupation, which lasted for 411 years, 11 months and 11 days.
During the Second Period of Venetian Rule, that was the most longevous
foreigner occupation of the island, many important changes took place in all sections.
Corfu left to Venice the supreme authority, but maintained its internal
institutions. The Venetian administration laid in the hands of a governor with
the title of 'Bailos' up to 1420, who was later assisted by two counsellors for
the political and judicial matters and a third the 'Pronoetes Capitanos', garrison
commander and judge in cases concerning the Fiefs and the Public Funds. The safeguarding
of the fortresses was assigned to two other Venetians (captain and castellan).
After the 16th century Corfu became the headquarters of the General Pronoetes
of Sea or Lavant (Proveditor General del Levante). The Venetian administration
was always exercised by nobles sent by the Council of the Most Serene Republic,
elected on a short term (one or two years, except General Pronoetes that was for
three-year in office). This way the danger of a powerful person, that by staying
on the island for long periods could harm the interests of Venice, could be avoided.
The domestic administration was exercised by the General Assembly,
which was composed of distinguished citizens, both Greeks and Italian. Later this
class was transformed into a closed cast of nobles with strict regulations. The
entry of new members in that class was possible only after a thorough examination
of the qualifications of the candidates. In 1572 there were 122 families listed
in the so-called 'Golden Book' (Libro d'Oro), which composed the corps of the
Nobles. A part of the General Assembly, 60 or 70 and later 150 persons, formed
the City Council, which appointed all the employees in the several governmental
positions for one-year term, as judges, ambassadors to the Doge, proveditors on
public health etc.
The long-lasted peaceful period that the Venetian rule ensured for
Corfu, accounted for the exploitation of the agricultural wealth of the fertile
island and when compared with the conditions in mainland Greece, the position
of the inhabitants of Corfu was preferential because they had the chance to work
and to enjoy a relative prosperity.
Venice minded the fishery and handcraftmen, but especially the agriculture.
The commerce was protected, new settlements on the island were encouraged, a new
harbour was constructed in Mandraki, a pawnshop was founded and the defensive
fortifications of the medieval city were reinforced.
After the Turkish siege in 1537, when the biggest part of the Corfiot
vineyard was eradicated, the Venetians subsidised the cultivation of olive trees.
A considerable income for the administration came from the renting of public lands,
the monopoly on salt, the exportation of olive oil and the transit trade. It was
mainly the middle-class that profited and developed economically and as a result
many professions were created and organised in guilds with a treasury for charities,
a Saint protector and their own church.
The first years of the Venetian rule the public education was almost
non-existent, not only on the island, but also in the entire world. Schools, press
or libraries did not exist and only in certain Catholic monasteries (Santa Giustina
in Garitsa) certain catholic priests taught Latin to the noble Italians and Greeks,
while the education of the lower classes was rudimentary.
By mid-16th century the Corfiots asked the Venetians to approve the
appointment of schoolteachers to teach Greek and Latin to their children. Later,
the economic growth allowed an easier access to education so that educational
institutions and Academies were established on the island (Academy of the Fertile
or Fruitful, Academia degli Assicurati, Academy of the Wanderers) and this way
many important personalities of the Greek Enlightenment evolved, like the scholars
Eugenios Boulgaris and Nikiphorus Theotokis.
Venice did not prohibit the foundation of colleges in the metropolis,
like that of the Corfiot Thomas Flangini, where indigent students from Corfu and
Cyprus studied. Graduates of 'Flanginion' were allowed to register at the University
of Padova and in other Italian institutions. This contact with the great intellectual
movements of that age created the first nucleus that gradually led to the creation
of the so-called Heptanesian Civilisation.
Head of the Church of Corfu was the Latin Archbishop, who tried in
every possible way and by every possible means to impose Catholicism on the island.
He had sound reasons to believe that the Catholics would be absorbed by the Orthodox.
Venice ratified from the beginning the old privileges that concerned the Orthodox
clergy of Corfu. However, during the first decades of the Venetian rule the Venetians
tolerated the efforts of the Latin Church to impose Catholicism on the island,
because of their alliance with the papal forces. When the Venetians realised the
conflict of their interests with the Pope, their attitude towards the Orthodox
Church began to change and in their relations with the Catholic Church applied
the motto: "Siamo prima Veneziani e poi Cristiani" (We are Venetians first and
The Venetians, in 1521, convinced the humanist and philhellene Pope
Leo X to issue a Papal Bull in favour of the Eastern Church and right after the
loss of Cyprus in 1571, they realised that if they were to keep their possessions
in the Levant, they should allow their Orthodox subjects the freedom of worship.
Despite the severity of the threatened punishments, the Latin Church
continued the insults and the oppressions of the Orthodox population with more
intensity. The only exception was the Latin Archbishop of Corfu, Angelo Maria
Querini (1723-1727), noble Venetian, hellenist, friend of Voltaire, distinguished
figure in the European letters of the 18th century, that left a good memory to
the Corfiots compared to his predecessors and his successors.
Head of the Orthodox Church was a simple Head-priest with the title
'Great Protopapas' and was elected for a five years term. After 1555 he was elected
by special electors, who came from the clergy of the city and from 30 members
of the City Council. In his public appearances he was escorted by the 'Sacred
Band' of the priests of the city. (The 'Sacred Band', that had its privileges
ratified by the Venetians, numbered 20 members after 1474 and presented similarities
with the medieval orders of Knighthood).
The 'Great Protopapas' had jurisdiction over the total of the priests
and the friars of the city and the countryside, also in cases of marriages, divorces,
church maintenance etc. Spiritually he was directly depended on the Patriarch
of Constantinople, but administratively he was obliged to obey the Dode's decrees.
The Latin clergy, even though of a higher level of education, could
not conquer the souls of the Orthodox population, who remained faithful to the
Eastern Church and its doctrines. Focal point and national awareness of the Corfiot
Orthodox was the relic of St. Spyridon, which was brought to the island from Constantinople
together with the relic of St. Theodora the Empress at the end of the 15th century.
The relic of Saint Spyridon was put in a brilliant church that was built in 1590
and the Corfiots assigned to the Saint the island's protection from threats of
epidemics, plagues, famines and Ottoman arms. It is characteristic that St. Spyridon
at his name-day (12 December) and at his splendid litanies, which took place four
times per year in commemoration of four miracles of the Patron Saint, managed
to unite all the faithful on the island, overcoming even the dogmatic differences.
Despite the dogmatic differences of the two churches, the Venetians,
for reasons of expedience, established mixed ceremonies with the participation
of the Latin and the Orthodox clergy on the occasion of religious feasts or other
celebrations with political meaning.
The Byzantine fortifications, powerful indeed were further reinforced
by the Despots of Epirus, the Angevins and later by the Venetians, could not have
the same effectiveness in the 15th century, the age of the artillery advancements.
The encounter with the Genoese and the Ottomans, who during the 14th
century made frequent raids, required a new method and scholastic observation
of the advancements of the military techniques. Shortly the Angelocastro and the
fortress of Cassiope were abandoned and all the efforts were focused on the medieval
The fortification works began in 1402 with the construction of the
harbour in Mandraki, the opening of a sea-moat and the replacement of the Byzantine
walls with new ones on the perimeter of the peninsula and round the two peaks
of the medieval city. Indicative of the Venetian interest is the fact that the
two citadels were armed with cannons (two big bombards), ten years before the
fall of Constantinople. The tall defensive towers on the tops of the two rocks
and all the projections that could be useful for the fire-range estimation for
the enemy artillery, were demolished.
With the Turkish expansionism in his climax, in 1537 the devastating
raid of the Turkish admiral Khaireddin Barbarossa took place with the consequent
obliteration of the agricultural cultivations (vineyards, olive-trees) of the
island and the enslavement of nearly all the population of the countryside (roughly
20.000 Corfiots were sold as slaves in Istanbul). Luckily the Old Fortress was
well defended by a 4,000-strong garrison with 700 guns and when several assaults
failed to carry the fortifications, the Turks reluctantly re-embarked. Several
complaints were expressed for the role of the protector that Venice had undertaken
and with the Turkish danger always active, the completion of the fortifications
was decided. The work was undertaken by the military architect Michele Sanmicheli,
who, in 1557, constructed two powerful pentagonal bastions on the western side
of the Old Fortress (named Savorgnan and Martinego), rendering Corfu the uncontested
recipient of the application of the new theories about the defensive architecture.
The demand for more effective protection returns imperatively after
the second Turkish siege in 1571, during which the authorities remained secure
behind the walls of the Old Fortress, but the houses, churches and the public
buildings of the 'borgo' (suburb) were burned and all the inhabitants were annihilated.
A new defensive plan was then decided and was implemented during the
years 1576-1588, on the basis of the initial proposals of Michele Sanmicheli and
the drawings of the military architect, Ferante Vitelli. A New Fortress was constructed
on the hill of Saint Mark, the land in front of the Old Fortress (Esplanade) was
widened and the suburb, 'Xopoli', was walled. The demolition of many buildings
that stood on the way of the walls was necessary and the line of the new walls
terminated on the New Fortress, ensuring that the western front of the city was
a powerful defensive system (fronte bastionato) comprised of the bastions of Sarandari
and Raimondo, the platform of St. Athanasios, several other half-bastions and
a protective moat, along which there was a hidden passage. Four main gates were
constructed to serve the residents of the city - Porta Reala, Porta Raimonda,
Porta Spilia, St. Nicolas Gate - and a few others for military use - Porta Otturata
- Porta stopa al Tenedo. New buildings were designed inside the walled city and
were constructed according to the new town-planning ideas that developed in the
Italian cities during the Renaissance.
The defensive fortifications were supplemented in the 17th century
on plans of the military engineer, F. Verneda who added a second wall on the exterior
of the western side of the first wall.
The works were not yet completed when on 5th July 1716 a Turkish fleet
of 35,000 infantry and cavalry was sighted on the sea opposite Corfu. During the
siege, the city suffered several furious attacks, but was saved thanks to the
defensive plan of the newly appointed Captain-General of the Venetian forces on
the island, Count Johann Matthias Von der Schulenburg, who had served with distinction
under Marlborough and Charles XII of Sweden. After the end of the siege Schulenburg,
who was suitably honoured by the Republic (his stature still stands on the Spianada
sq.), carried out the last stage of the defensive fortifications of Corfu, which
lasted 10 years. The hills of Avrami and Sotiros were fortified, a small redoubt
was constructed in the suburb of San Rocco and the defences of the harbour and
the opposite island of Vido were reinforced.
The impressive fortifications of Corfu were chartered on detailed
naval, military and topographical maps in order not only to inform, but also to
impress and deter every potential invader. Today they are regarded as works of
art. The fact remains that Corfu, after the loss of Crete and for the whole of
the 18th century, was at the centre of interest and was identified with the maritime
State of Venice.
This extract is cited May 2003 from the Municipality of Kerkyra URL below, which contains images.