Fortresses

The historical centre of Corfu town is delimited by the two fortresses. Along the east side there’s the ancient fortress on the sea, while on the west side there’s the new one. During the past the two fortresses of Corfu were linked by large walls, so that the inhabitants could live safe inside. The walls were destroyed and today there are only two of the four gates of the town. One is called “Porta di Spilia” (Spilia gate), known also as Boati arch, just in front of the old port. The second one is the gate of San Nicola, placed under the level of the coast road, at the end of the Esplanade. However, outside Corfu town around the Island you can locate more fortresses with the most popular being the one in Northwest Corfu, named Aggelokastro, which translates to the Angel Castle.

Aggelokastro is one of the most important Byzantine castles in Greece and one of the oldest. It was already there since the 7th century. It is located on the island of Corfu at the top of the highest peak of the island’s shoreline in the north coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.

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The new fortress is massive and you can see it on your left when you’re arriving in to the port with the ferryboat. Under the supervision of the Italian architect Francesco Vitelli, the New Fortress of Corfu was built between 1576 and 1645 and many buildings were crashed in order to have enough material to build the fortress. It was partially destroyed during the Second World War but the new fortress is still lovely with its old paved access road and its gate with the ancient lions that are the Venetian symbols. The new fortress is placed just above the old port and it’s full of underground tunnels that run till the old fortress and the old Corfu town. Maybe less fascinating than the old one, the new fortress deserve to be visited just for the marvelous view you can have from its top. Recently the fortress has been renovated and today gives hospitality to many exhibitions of painting, photography, sculpturing and music concerts.

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When during the VI century the old town of Corfu placed in Kanoni peninsula (the Paleopoli) was destroyed by the invaders, the survivors decided to build again the town but in a safer area. Later the town has been preserved by the creation of a fortress around it: the OLD FORTRESS that takes up all the small island at the east end of Corfu town. The entrance of the Old Fortress is placed just in front of the Liston, near Corfu’s Esplanade. You will be impressed by the massive bastions, a real masterpiece of military architecture in old times. To get in you just have to cross the short bridge that links the fortress with the town of Corfu. The large ditch that divides the fortress from the town is used today as a docked for fishing boats. A short visit let you understand why this area was the ideal place to create a fortress. As it is surrounded by the sea, the fortress was in fact used both to defend Corfu town, and to check the near coast.

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