What is it that makes Corfu’s 2800 years of history so special and unique? Perhaps the fact that the island witnessed and was actively engaged in all the major periods of history and cultural movements that shaped western and pan-European history – from Greek Antiquity through Roman, Byzantine, Renaissance and the Ages of Enlightenment to modern times.
During the classical Greek period, considered to be the birth of western civilization, Corfu developed around the area of Palaiopolis and Athenian support for Corfu gave rise to the Peloponnesian War.
For nearly 1400 years, the island was part of the Roman and later the Byzantine Empire. Castles and other monuments from this period can still be seen today. From the 15th century onwards, four centuries of Venetian rule were to have a great influence on the character of the island, while the rest of the Greek world was part of the Ottoman Empire. Two Venetian fortresses dominate the town and played a major historical role over the centuries.
The end of the Republic of Venice saw Corfu come under the control of French and later Russians, while from 1799-1807 the island became the capital of the Independent State of the Ionian Islands. For 50 years Corfu was under British protection and it finally united with Greece in 1864.
Today, Corfu is considered the Island of Music and boasts eighteen philharmonic bands. The wide variety of museums and the town’s architecture (World Heritage Site since 2007) is living witness to the cultures – combining eastern and western influences – that have flourished on the island over the centuries and still coexist today in a complete harmony.