Not many people are aware of the fact that the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and author of Don Quixote, spent a year in Corfu between 1571 and 1572.
Due to its geographical position, Corfu has played a key role in many historic European events and one of these involved Cervantes. He enlisted as a soldier in the Spanish Navy Marines and in 1571 served in the fleet of the Holy League which defeated the Ottomans in the historic battle of Lepanto (Naupactus) in the Gulf of Patra, south of the island of Corfu.
Following the battle, he spent a year in Corfu. It is thought that he stayed in the Annunziata monastery, although some say that he in fact stayed in St. Giustina monastery in Garitsa, just outside Corfu Town.
Annunziata is where the Latin nobles were buried after the battle of Naupactus and although the original church was demolished, the bell tower still stands. Here one can see a special plaque commemorating Cervantes’ stay on the island.
The bell tower is shortly due to be renovated and this historic monument is an important sight for all visitors – whether they are on a shore excursion from their cruise ship or on a longer group visit to the island. Spanish-speaking visitors, in particular, will be thrilled to see this commemoration of their most famous writer.