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Island of Corfu
 
     
When the English came to the island, they brought with them an exotic citrus fruit of chinese origin which resembles a small orange, the cumquat. It's too bitter to be eaten raw, but the locals use it to make an odd-tasting liquer, as well as a preserve and candied fruits.
Some archaelogical finds suggest that the island was inhabited since the Paleolithic Age, but the first Greeks to arrive on the island seem to have been a small group of emigrants coming from Eretria of Euboes, around 750 B.C. However, it was not until ca. 735 B.C. that the island was settled, this time by the Corinthians, who settled in the region where the town of Corfu stands today and gave the island its name, Kerkyra.

 

 
     
 
 
     
     
  Today Corfu has two different and totally distinct faces to show to the visitor, which co-exist nevertheless in harmony. There is touristy Corfu, with its more than 30 luxurious and A' class hotels and hundreds of smaller ones, gathered around the most popular beaches of the island (Roda, Paleokastritsa, Ipsos, Kondokali, Benitses, Mesogi, Kavos). And there is also the traditional Corfu which survives untouched by tourism in all the inland villages, where you will often see women wearing their traditional dress.
Thanks to frequent rains and fertile soil, Corfu is covered with lush vegetation which gives it an exotic character. 60% of the trees growing on the island are olive trees, many of them age-old, the cultivation of which was introduced by the Venetians.
 
     
 
 
     
  Of all the conquerors of Corfu, those who definitely left their stamp on the island were the Venetians. During the 400 years of their rule (1386 - 1797) the arts flourished and the economy prospered, at a time when the rest of Greece was deep into the dark of the Ottoman rule. A thriving middle class of Venetians and Greeks developed in Corfu, but the poor peasants lived a life of slaves. Today the town of Corfu has kept intact its Venetian character, with its many-storeyed buildings and narrow alleys, an imposing central aquare and its numerous churches.
The English kept the rule on Corfu only for a few years (1814 - 1864) but it was time enough for them to leave their stamp behind, too. The dense road network of Corfu was first designed and its main part constructed by the English who were particularly interested in the development of the country.
 
     
 
 
 
 
     
  At the narrow Venetian alleys of the town, many old houses have been turned into restaurants where you can enjoy the delicious local cuisine: pastitsada (macaroni and beef in a tomato sauce), sofrito (beef steak with garlic sauce) and the famous bourdeto (fish with red hot sauce).
Corfu was the first Greek territory to be conquered by the Romans. During the long Roman conquest (230 B.C. - 337 A.D.) Corfu enjoyed many privileges and freedoms. In return the people of Corfu honoured the Roman Emperors. Many Emperors paid visits to the island, like Nero himself visited the temple of Zeus at Kassiopi.
Only a few kilometres west of the swarming-with-tourists beach of Lefkimi, the large sandy beaches of Aghios Gordis and of Vitalades maintain their natural beauty and are hardly visited even in summer. The seabed of these beaches and south towards Asprokavos is full of reefs and very rich in marine life.
Corfu remained for nearly a thousand years part of the Byzantine Empire (337 A.C. - 1267 A.D.). Being, however, too far from Constantinople, it suffered many raids (from Vandals, Goths, Saracens, Normans etc.). Around 500 A.D. the old town was abandoned and the terrified locals settled on the small island on which the old fortress stands today.
 
   
   
   
   
   
 
 
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