Apart from Paleopolis, the ancient Greek metropolis of the island which is an archaeological treasure, many later buildings too show the cultural history of Corfu.
As there are so many of these monuments in Corfu, here we will try to describe the most important of them.
The Old Fortress
This was originally a natural promontory offering in it`s rocks protection for the residents of the 5th century AD when the ancient city of Corfu was moved here after the destruction of the ancient city by the Visigoths.
Converted into a fortress by the Byzantines in the 8th century AD and contained all of the small medieval town.
The rock was always further reinforced to protect the city from the numerous invasions of the Middle Ages, and gradually the town grew around it.
Later the Venetians, because of the Turkish threat, strengthened its fortifications, extended the bastions and dug the moat known as the kontra fossa separating the fortress from the land.
This way the Venetians created an impenetrable triple line of defense both by land and from the sea.
The New Fortress
Venetians due to the permanent threat of the Turks, felt that it was necessary to complete the fortifications of the city which meanwhile had been extended far beyond the old fortress.
So at 1576 they started the construction of the new fortress on the hill of San Marcos extended south with walls and ramparts reaching the sea at Garitsa bay, Corfu is now all within the walls, it was then that Corfu took the name Kastropolis.
To become a fortress, except the exhaustive work of the residents, 2,000 houses in particular where now stands the vast Esplanade square had to be demolished.
The reasons that this happened was not only to find building materials, but primarily defensive, the Venetians wanted to create a large buffer zone between the old fortress and the city which would help better their defense plans.
Palace of Saint Michael and George
During the era of the British rule, High Commissioner Sir Frederick Adams in 1819 decided to build a house for him and his family.
So he created in Corfu a unique palace in Georgian style.
The building was designed by an English engineer Colonel Sir George Whitmore (1775-1862) and despite its enormous size is elegant and beautiful.It has been described as the best example of regency architecture outside Britain.
It is the largest palace in Greece except for the palace of King Otto in Athens, which today houses the Greek parliament.
The large line of Doric columns has two gates, the Gate of St. Michael and the gate of St. George.
In the garden is the statue of commissioner Frederick Adams made by Corfiot sculptor Pavlos Prosalendis.
Outside it has carved representations of the Ionian Islands and within two rows of Ionic columns surrounding the main hall, showing scenes from the Odyssey.
The first floor is decorated with Corinthian columns.
There are three main halls: the ballroom, the throne-room and the symposium room.
The palace previously housed the Ionian Senate and is the home of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George .
For a half of the century it was also the summer residence of the former Greek royal family. Today it has been refurbished as a museum displaying classical antiquities,.
A meeting of the summit of the European Union was held here in 1994.
The building looks over the north side of Spianada square on Iroon Politechniou street, and also houses the Asian Art Museum and the Municipal Gallery.
In 1663 the construction of the gallery of noble “loggia nobili” was begun, and took almost 30 years to complete..
This beautiful building housed the famous San Giacomo theatre. Later on the director of the orchestra for the operas that played there was Nicholaos Mantzaros composer of our national anthem.
Today the building has retained its beauty and has become the home of the Town Hall. It is located at the intersection of Eugene M. Voulgareos street and M.Theotoki street.
The Ionian Parliament building
At the intersection of Napoleon Zabeli and Moustoxidi streets is the building of the Ionian Parliament.
Here the representatives of the people of the Ionian Islands voted for union with Greece which was eventually ratified by a resolution of the Ionian Isles on 23rd September 1863.
The building was designed by Ioannis Chronis in 1855 in a neoclassical style with a distinctive entrance of Doric columns.
It was restored in 1978 and since then has been the home of the Museum devoted to the struggle of the people of eptanisa (Ionian Islands) for freedom.
We hope that it will be restored to its previous glory and officially become the Ionian Parliament.
At The intersection of Akadimias and Kapodistriou streets at Southwest Upper Square of Spianada was one of the entrances to the city at the era of Venetian rule.
There the General Provveditore of the city (as he was called then) Grimani Correr started to build a building to be used as a barracks.
In 1823 following a resolution of the Ionian parliament with the help of Lord Frederick Guilford the Ionian Academy was founded, the first Greek university, which until 1841 was hosted in a government building in the old fortress.
In 1841 the university moved to the former Grimani Correr barracks which from then on was named the Ionian Academy, the schools of philosophy, law and medicine and later the polytechnic, the obstetrics and pharmacology were housed there.
In 1865, following the Union of Ionian islands with Greece, the Greek kingdom immediately rewarded the fervent desire of Corfiot people for union with Greece by closing our university.
They also removed the electricity factory already operating in Corfu and took all its machinery to Piraeus, leaving Corfu in a state of spiritual and economic stagnation, denied by the Greek state the spiritual and cultural leadership, and removing a century of progress.
After the university was closed its building housed the Public Library, but during the Second World War the building was bombed by the Germans in September 1943. It was restored in 1994.
Annunziata, a monument of pan-European significance
At the intersection of Evgeniou Voulgareos, Vrahliotis and Montsenigou streets in Corfu, is the Annunziata, a church devoted to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary as well as to Santa Luccia, it was the Catholic Church of Lontsiada as the Corfiots knew it.
Today, only the characteristic bell tower of Annunziata remains stand, which is a monument of pan-European significance, this is due to its relationship with one of the most important events of world history, one of the greatest naval battles of all times, the naval battle of Nafpaktos in 1571 among the fleets of the Holy Alliance, ie the fleets of Venice, Spain, Naples, Sicily, Genoa and Malta against the Ottoman`s (undefeated untill then) Tourkish fleet.
10 km south of the city and three kms north of the village of Benitses on the edge of the village of Gastouri sits the beautiful Achilleion(Achillion) Palace.
It was built by Empress Elizabeth of Austria who became known as the sad queen Sissy.