Achilleion (Achillion) Palace
The Achilleion (Achillion) palace is 3km north from Benitses, set on a hill overlooking the coast..
It was built in 1890 by Empress Elizabeth of Austro-Hungary, known as Sissy, as her summer villa in her beloved Corfu.
The statues of Achilles and the architecture in general, reveal her love of Classical Greece.
Elizabeth was murdered by an Italian who stabbed her in Geneva, and Kaiser William II of Prussia bought the property and he also used it as a summer residence.
Until few years ago the Corfu Casino was housed there, but now is museum, historic site and conference centre.
As we approach Benitses from Corfu Town we first see a large rock, the Laopetra, formed of the characteristic stone of the region, with a very thin base in the sea that has been there for centuries, and features in many old photos and paintings.
It is called Laopetra which means the people`s rock (derived from the two words, laos=people and petra=rock) and NOT rabbit rock as incorrectly called by many.
This rock had been fallen some thousand years ago from the above hills into the sea and stays there, the small coves near here are peaceful, with very shallow and clear water.
The middle photo on the top is from the distant 1970..
Corfu Shell Museum, a museum dedicated to sea species
The museum is a jewel for Benitses, not only because it is among the few of its kind in Greece but also because it`s rich collection consists of rare and beautiful marine species, some of which claim the Guinness awards because of the rarity and their beauty.
Museum used to be housed in a building at Benitses’s north entrance, now has been moved to the lobby of Potamaki hotel.
It belongs to the diver and collector Mr. Napoleon Sagias who as an immigrant in Australia since 1970 and for 20 years, he was traveling with his team all over the Indian and Pacific oceans, diving and collecting shells and other rare shell species.
His dream became reality when he returned home and built the museum, enriched it with these rare finds collected over the years.
The collection is huge, some of the most important exhibits are: KYPRAIA foultoni shell, the shell Melo Amphora, the HALIOTIS IRIS from new Zealand, one of the most beautiful in the world, TRIDACNA GIGAS probably the largest in the world, other poisonous shells, rare starfish, small and large stuffed fish, rare sharks, piranhas from the Amazon, shellfish and many other ..
More than half of these rare species have been collected by Mr Sagias himself, they come from Australia, the Philippines, the islands of Samoa, Fiji isles, the coral reefs of Australia and other places.
The shell “KYPRAIA Foultoni” (Cypraea Fultoni) of the Cypraeidae family is one of the rarest in the world and was bought by Mr. Sagias from a fishermen in Mozambique, where it was found in the belly of a fish.
For the shell “Melo amphora” of “Volutidae” family, Mr. Sagias has already applied for entry in the Guinness Book of Records, because it is perhaps the largest in the world, it was found on the island Rosemary of the archipelago Ntampier north of Australia.
In the museum there is also a blue shark gained in Athens by a fisherman.
The museum has been honored for its contribution with international award by the Italian Institute of Marine Research I.R.E.D.A
Apart from tourists, frequent visitors of the museum are schools from all over Corfu and mainland Greece.
For more info just call +30 26610 72227
Roman Baths in Benitses
Archaeological excavations in the estate of the Kapsokavadis family unearthed ruins of Roman villa and the remnants of hot baths dating back to Roman times.
The baths are relatively well preserved and the decorative mosaics of the floor are clearly visible.
Even though they are almost hidden behind some rows of houses, it is not difficult to visit them, the baths are only 50 metres from the main road through a narrow passage way between houses, that leads directly to them.
The road is not entirely public, the first part belongs to private properties but stays open to enable other people to use it as a passage to their houses also.
More details and a few photos of the baths are in Roman baths page
The Yacht Marina
Benitses now boasts a yacht harbour (Marina), a project which among other things includes a parking area and other facilities.
The village of Benitses
The beauty of the village is due to the terrain where it is built for hundreds of years, there are documents proving its existence as a settlement for many centuries.
On the one side the mountains of Stavros and Agioi Deka are touching the village and on the other the coastline continues like a snake forming two natural bays that give all the charm to the landscape.
The old part of Benitses is in front of the first from the north creek and also enters to the west inside the valley in where formerly there was a river which ended where now is the port.
The new part is developed mostly coastal along the main road to the south where the second bay of Koutsomaroula is located.
Benitses occupy a large portion of the central east Corfiot coast, from opposite mouse island and Perama at north side up to Agios Ioannis peristeron in the south where Marbella hotel is.
Beach in Benitses
Benitses has two creeks coming down from the mountains, one joining the sea at the harbour, and the other at Koutsomaroula, an idyllic bay fringed with many shops, bars and tavernas, also there was a few decades ago one of the oldest seaside hotels on the island, the hotel “Avra”.
The bay is ideal for swimming as trees edge the sea and give natural shade for those who do not want to sit in full sun.
The photo in the top left is the beach at Loutrouvia outside Potamaki hotel.
Churches on the slopes of the mountain
The village is literally resting on the green mountains where there are several isolated small churches, hidden in the trees, such as Agia Paraskevi, Agia Triada on an amazing knoll and others.
Conditions are ideal for biking and hiking on numerous trails leading to the mountainous village of Stavros from where the view of middle and south part of the island is amazing.
On the top left picture is the small church of Agia Triada (300 metres high) from where the view down to both Benitses and Corfu town is fantastic.
Evaggelistria, built near the ruins of an older church which is said to have been built by a pirate because he escaped untouched from the rough sea.
The view from the surrounding hills
Additionally to actual sites of interest there is the unsurpassed beauty of the mountains around the coastal valley that is very difficult to find elsewhere.
The vegetation is luxuriant, there is no inch of empty bare soil and even the tops of the mountains at an altitude of 600 and 500 metres are full of trees. This is what gives to the region its unique look, making the climate milder and the air full of oxygen. The local residents have become used to it and are not impressed, but for the visitors this is a unique experience.
Stunning views of the town of Corfu from the top of the mountain above the village of Stavros.