The island of Corfu, Greece

We took a ship’s tour so that we could see Achilleion, the summer palace built in 1890 by the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth (nicknamed Sissi).  Married to Franz-Joseph when she was 16, Sissi had a rocky relationship with her mother-in-law who took over the raising of her children and even named her 1st daughter without consulting her.  Sadly, that child died at the age of 2 and Sissi suffered bouts of depression the rest of her life.  Her standing improved after her son was born but she traveled often to get away from her husband’s family.  In 1889 her son, the Crown Prince Rudolf, committed murder-suicide with his mistress.  Achilleion was a place of escape for Sissi in her grief.

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The foyer is especially bright and airy. 

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The staircase is the most striking architectural feature of the palace.

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I loved the frieze of animals in the dining room.  Your food watches over you while you eat it!

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There is a lovely back porch and patio.  (There must be fancier names for these on a palace.)

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Achilleion gets it’s name from the mythical hero Achilles.  There are two statues of Achilles in the garden.  This is “Achilles Dying”.

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This is Achilles on a better day, looking out over the sea.  This statue was installed by Kaiser Wilhelm II who bought the palace after Sissi’s death.   She was 60 years old when she was assassinated in Switzerland in 1898.  With such a tragic life I hope her pretty palace gave her joy.

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The old city of Corfu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.  There are forts at each end of town.  The old citadel, built by the Venetians, is used for cultural events now.

Between this fort and the town is a square called Spianada.  It is one of the largest plazas in Europe.  All kinds of events are held here, even cricket matches.

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At one end of the Spianada is the Palace of St. Michael and St. George.  It was built in 1819 and served as the Senate and as a residence for the British High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands.  Today it houses several museums and event halls.

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Running along the edge of the Spianada is the Liston, a street of arched colonnades and lots of cafes.  It was busy with families and tourists on this Sunday afternoon. 

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St. Spyridon – The guide books says that the body of the patron saint of Corfu is preserved here.

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“Picture Op” with a nice view of the old fort.

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The new fort dominates the other end of the town.

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From the beautiful to the terrible…..

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Before dawn the next day, our ship stopped in the middle of the Mediterranean to watch over a small boat filled with over 40 Syrian refugees.  They had lost power and would have eventually sunk in rough seas if our ship had not happened upon them.  We waited 5 1/2 hours until the Italian Coast Guard arrived to rescue them.  They shouted their thanks to us as the Italians took them on board and motored away to who knows what fate.  This really brought home the recent news reports of the many who have lost their lives crossing from Africa to Italy, trying to escape war torn regions.

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About graciamc

Gracia's Travels is a photo blog. I always take too many pictures on trips so I justify my compulsion with this blog! The blog is mostly photos - they tell the best part of the story. Please contact me if you would like to use any of my photos.
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4 Responses to The island of Corfu, Greece

  1. Janet Freeman says:

    Thank you Gracia. As you say, from the lovely and beautiful to the terrible.

  2. Patricia says:

    What a tragic life Sissi led in spite of having such a beautiful palace to live in. Hopefully the fate of those Syrian refugees your captain aided will be better.

  3. Catherine McCabe says:

    Am so very happy you take the time to put these travelogues together — they really mean a lot. Think you and I photographed the exact same cat 😉 And how sad to see the refugees — I often wonder where they were taken and if they’re OK now. What a great Captain we had to wait all that time for the coast guard to show up, really special.

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