“I want a palace pillared with colonnades and hanging gardens, protected from prying glances – a palace worthy of Achilles who despised all mortals and did not fear even the gods.”
This is what Empress Elizabeth of Austria – better known as Princess Sissy – asked for when she commissioned the Italian architect Raffaele Caritto to design the Achilleion Palace on the 200,000 square metre area of land in Corfu at the end of the 19th century.
Princess Sissy loved Greek mythology – especially Achilles – and asked Ernst Herter, a famous German sculptor to create works inspired by the mythology in the grounds around the palace. In the magnificent peristyle we can see the nine marble Muses together with statues of Apollo and the three Graces. Herter also made the famous Dying Achilles statue, the centrepiece of the Achilleion Gardens, which Sissy was able to see from the peristyle.
Inside the palace itself we can not only see her personal belongings but also the clocks from which she had the hands removed as she did not want to be reminded of time passing, nor live according to a strict timetable.
We can easily imagine the ill-fated Empress walking through the fabulous garden and gazing out over the green Corfu countryside – a view that we can still enjoy today. The palace, ‘protected from prying glances’ as the princess wished, is now an ideal setting for memorable events – with its beautiful courtyard overlooking a panoramic view of flowering gardens, green forested hillside and the sparkling blue sea below.
Whether it is for a gala dinner at the end of a hard-working conference, a wedding reception on that very, very special day or a visit on a local tour or on a Shore Excursion, the Achilleion Palace will remain etched on the memories of all who attend.