Celebrating a rich history
Steeped in history since the early ages, the island of Corfu houses a large number of museums safeguarding an amazing variety of features, of both society and nature, against oblivion.
Keeping pace with the island’s age-old past, museums dedicated to the earliest periods in human history are topping the list.
The Archaeological Museum of Corfu in Garitsa is best known for the colossal pediment of the Temple of Artemis, dating back to 580 B.C. as well as for other artefacts from the ancient temples of Palaeopolis, the original Corfu town, and miscellanies from the Palaeolithic and Bronze Ages.
The Byzantine Museum in the 15th century church of Panagia Antivouniotissa, in Kampielo, provides a first-rate picture of Corfu’s Byzantine period, displaying sculptures of Christian architecture, parts of mosaic floors, frescoes and a major collection of religious iconography from as early as the 16th century obtained from various Corfiot churches.
More finds from Palaeopolis and the Byzantine period are exhibited at Mon Repos, the erstwhile summer palace of the Greek royal family, where Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was born.
A fair share of museums on this Ionian island is dedicated to works of art, both local and foreign.
At Kato Korakiana the Corfu branch of the Greek National Gallery hosts an extended collection of art works representing modern Greek art from the early post-Byzantine years until the present.
The Municipal Library and Art Gallery, located in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, accommodates some great paintings, engravings and sculptures mostly by Corfiot artists, some showing a strong Italian influence, but there are also works dating from the 15th century Byzantine period.
The Achilleion in Gastouri, a palace built as a refuge from court pressure in Vienna by Elisabeth, the empress of Austria-Hungary,is well-known for its collection of sculptures and paintings with a mythical and ancient Greek theme by some of the leading European artists of her time.
The famous Museum of Asian Art in the palace of St. George and St. Michael houses more than 10 000 pieces, including bronze vases, pottery, figurines and other objects from the earliest Chinese dynasties collected by a number of Corfiot diplomats.
The Corfu Reading Society, founded in 1936, is the oldest literary and arts institution in modern Greece and some of the most prominent scions of Ionian society have been members thereof through the years. It owns, amongst others, more than 10 000 volumes of Ionian literature and regularly presents exhibitions of works of art and other cultural objects.
A number of folkloric museums ensure the conservation of the everyday cultural heritage of the island as practiced in the olden days.
The Folklore Museum, across the road from the Roman baths in Acharavi, focuses on northern Corfu with interesting examples of cultural-historic agricultural, household and church interest.
Likewise, the Folklore Museum in Sinarades, preserves the heritage of central Corfu, including traditional holiday outfits and a cobbler’s workbench.
A notable private Museum of Folk Costumes in Pelekas, open to the public, shows an impressive collection of Corfiot and Greek costumes primarily from the 19th century.