Last updated on May 28th, 2023 at 10:21 am
Old Perithia is situated on the slopes of Mount Pantokrator, the highest mountain in Corfu, in the northern part of the island. It is about 40 kilometers from Corfu Town and can be reached by car or on foot through scenic mountain roads.
It is perhaps one of the oldest, if not the oldest, villages of Corfu, as the area was known since 300 BCE.
Some history behind Perithia
Perithia is said to have been built by devastated people who lived close to the beach when they were hit by a tsunami.
But also the fear of pirates during the Middle Ages forced many inhabitants to choose mountainous, inaccessible, and invisible places from the sea to build their villages.
The same happened to many other old mountain villages on the island too.
During the Middle Ages and up to 1400AD the population increased mainly due to this protection from pirates since the village is not visible from the sea at all.
There were very rich mansions and large schools here as evidenced by the ruins and in general the village flourished.
But despite the isolation, the village was affected very badly by the malaria epidemic that ravaged Corfu in the 15th century forcing almost all the inhabitants to abandon it. This was the start of the end of Old Perithia
Why Perithia was abandoned?
Later, the advantages of isolation during the Middle Ages became disadvantages when piracy disappeared and the great tourist flow to Corfu began.
Life in the mountainous environment of the village became difficult and so the remained inhabitants moved down to the nearest tourist areas such as Kassiopi and Acharavi to find work.
Inevitably, little by little, the village was abandoned and began to fall into disrepair.
The rebirth of the village
But in 1980 the whole of old Perithia was declared a preserved cultural monument, and this was the beginning of the rebirth of the village.
In 2009 Mark from London and Saskin from the Netherlands fell in love with the village and decided to invest in it.
They bought a dilapidated mansion and renovated it keeping its architecture intact, this house became a small hotel.
Their example was followed by many descendants of the old residents who started repairing the old houses, slowly bringing life back to the ghost village, because that’s what Perithia was called before 2009.
Today around 130 houses have been renovated, using the stone of the area, in accordance with the local Corfu style and preserving the Venetian elements.
There are still old mansions and the church of Agios Iakovos at the entrance of the village which is considered one of the most remarkable monuments. But also several taverns that attract people from other places and give life and income to the now permanent residents.
In recent years, Old Perithia has undergone extensive restoration efforts to bring it back to its former glory. The restoration has been carried out with great care and attention to detail, preserving the village’s traditional architecture and character. Many of the original stone houses, pathways, and churches have been restored, and the village has been transformed into a living museum of Corfiot village life from the past.
For these reasons, cars and swimming pools are prohibited in the settlement.
Old Perithia is a unique destination for visitors to explore and experience Corfu’s cultural heritage. The village is made up of stone houses, narrow cobbled streets, and picturesque squares, creating a charming and authentic atmosphere.
Visitors can stroll through the village, admire the restored buildings, and take in panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Ionian Sea. There are also several tavernas and cafes in the village where visitors can enjoy local cuisine and hospitality.
Hiking and Nature
Old Perithia is located in a pristine natural setting, surrounded by lush greenery, olive groves, and hiking trails. Visitors can take nature walks and hikes to explore the beautiful landscapes and enjoy the fresh mountain air. The area is also home to diverse flora and fauna, making it a haven for nature lovers and photographers.
Community and Sustainability
The restoration of Old Perithia has been carried out with a focus on community involvement and sustainability. The village is now a living community with a small number of residents, and efforts have been made to involve the local community in the restoration process, preserving their traditional way of life. The restoration has also been carried out with sustainability in mind, using eco-friendly practices and promoting local products and traditions.
The village today is one of the most beautiful retreats of Corfu and many artists and writers live there.
Old Perithia is a unique and enchanting destination that offers visitors a glimpse into Corfu’s rich history and cultural heritage. With its restored traditional buildings, natural beauty, and community-focused approach, Old Perithia has become a thriving example of a revitalized historic village on the island of Corfu.
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