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Ancient Corfu sites of Paleopolis

Last updated on 21st October, 2017 at 05:34 pm

Ancient Corfu or Paleopolis with many archaeological sites

Paleopolis - the ancient Corfu
Paleopolis – the ancient Corfu

If you fancy a journey in your imagination explore the site of the ancient city of Corfu, known as Paleopolis (Old City).
It was discovered after archaeological excavations during last century.
The city was founded in the 8th century BC by Dorian Greeks from Korinth and their leader Chersikrates in the area between Garitsa and Halikiopoulos lagoon.
Whereas the modern city grew up around Garitsa Bay, and the twin Old and New Fortresses, where the airport is now was once the harbour of the city.

The centre of ancient Corfu town is estimated to be opposite the grounds of Mon Repos and the Acropolis was on the peak of Kanoni peninsula where Analipsis is today.
A section of the walls, with the watchtower, can still be seen, but now it looks out over the runway rather than the sea.
This wall is at the top of a path reached by walking along the side of Corfu’s largest cemetery, where at night the red votive lamps flicker in the breeze.

The residents living round here are constantly finding cannon balls, and evidence of ancient occupation of the area, as they tend their gardens.
Building is strictly limited now, but sadly things were not the same in the 1960s when the promontory of Canoni was developed, and many archaeological treasures buried forever.
A stroll onwards from the watchtower leads you past the temple of Athena, and joins the road to Mon Repos Palace.
Just outside the place can be seen extensive archaeological works, and inside the grounds a temple has been excavated..
The ancient city was an important trading post, and it is easy to imagine the ships of many tribes bringing their colourful wares, and bartering on the quayside.

An intriguing mystery is in a private estate on Canoni, where a superb lemon eucalyptus tree flourishes.
Tree specialists have said that it is 900 years old.
The only place this grows is Australia- could sailors in ancient times have beaten Captain Cook by almost 700 years?

Also in the area of Garitsa are remains of several Byzantine churches, a style of building unlike that found in the rest of the island.

The one which really repays exploration in Sts. Jason and Sosipatros- the two missionaries who brought Christianity to Corfu.
It is a magnificent church, deservedly popular for weddings and christening, with frescoed walls.
The keeper is often tending the grounds, and if not he can be found in his orchard next door, and he will happily open up for you.
It is supposed that the city ‘migrated’ northwards when the harbour silted up, and the traders’ boats could no longer land their cargoes.
In time of war also the Old Fortress made an impregnable stronghold, and all the townsfolk could shelter in their until danger was past, so it was a safer site for all the population, civilian and military.

The Monument of Menecrates

Menecrates monument in Corfu
Menecrates monument in Corfu

Located in Garitsa. It was constructed in the 6th century BC and discovered in 1843.
The most impressive part of the monument is an archaic inscription, the oldest to be found in Greece which is read upside down and says that Menekrates was consul of Corfu town in Oianthi, a town near the present site of Galaxidi, a seaport in mainland Greece.

The Tower of Nerantchicha

Nerantzicha tower in ancient Corfu
Nerantzicha tower in ancient Corfu

This is situated behind the cemetery and is part of the ancient 4th century BC wall of the city which was 6 metres high.
It has survived because it was later used as a Byzantine church.

Temple of Artemis

Gorgon medusa metope in Corfu archaeological museum
Gorgon medusa metope in Corfu archaeological museum
Ancient Corfu - Temple of Artemis
Ancient Corfu – Temple of Artemis

Of great importance in the religion of ancient Corfu is the temple of Artemis Gorgon.
The 6th century BC temple is located near the present monastery of Saint Theodore.
It was discovered in 1822 but only a few parts of it were saved.
Near the sanctuary of the temple evidence has been found of other smaller buildings also .

In the estate of Mon Repos there are two more ancient temples, one probably in honour of Apollo in Doric style in Kardaki, and pieces from a temple which is earlier than 7th century BC, and is thought to have been the temple of Hera.

The Villa Mon Repos

Corfu - palace of Mon Repos
Corfu – palace of Mon Repos

A neoclassical building at the east of Paleopolis was built by the British Commissioner Sir Frederick Adams in 1830.
It was latterly used by the former royal family as a summer residence.

This is not an ancient monument but is located within the area of ancient Corfu and in addition now houses the museum of Paleopolis.

Corfu sites – Corfu – Paleopolis wider area

In the photo from google is the area of Paleopolis, south of Garitsa with the airport at the left.
Click on the photo to see the position of some ancient monuments and Mon Repos.

Paleopolis wider area from google
Paleopolis wider area from google