Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek), unlike the rest of Greece, never fell under the Ottoman oppression. Due to the successive dominations of the Venetians, the French and the British over the centuries, the island has rather primarily become part of the Western Levantine world. Their culture wielded strong influence in the city: it was here that the first Greek University (the Ionian Academy), the first Philharmonic Orchestra and the First School of Fine Arts were founded. With the passage of time the island may have changed, but one can still feel the spirit of a distant glorious past.
In the beautifully preserved Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO world heritage site, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical “repertoire” came to be successfully applied to local artistic traditions. Palaces, fortresses, austere public buildings of the Venetian rule, uniquely blend with lines of drying washing in tiny alleyways and small secluded squares. Strolling through a complex of narrow cobbled streets with stairways and vaulted passages, the so-called “kantounia”, will make you feel as if you’ve travelled to Genoa or Naples.
Corfu Town is the island's most nosy reminder of its cosmopolitan past: the Royal Villa of Mon Repos (summer residence successively of British High Commissioners and Greek Kings where the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was also born here in 1921) or the Achilleion, the palace-retreat that Elisabeth – “Sissy” – the Empress of Austria had built in 1890 and dedicated to Achilles, or the most well-known Corfiot landmark, the Vlacherna monastery located on front of the famous Ponticonisi iland are some of them.