Corfu Island Greece

Old Fortress

The Old Fortress of Corfu

To the East of the Old town stands the first fortress of Corfu, the Old Fortress or Fortetsa (Fortezza) an architectural masterpiece of the fortificative art of both the Byzantine and the Venetian period.

Corfu island Old Fortress

was built in order to surround the new town created by the local survivors when Palaiopolis located in Kanoni was destroyed during the 6th century by the invaders. Then the locals searched to find a new location which would inspire them the feeling of safety.
This location was discovered at the eastern side of the actual Old Town upon a rocky peninsula. The actual gate of the fortress is in front of the legendary Liston at the Square Spianada.

If you want to enter you must cross the bridge over the artificial moat, the Contra Fossa which has turned the Old Fortress of Corfu to an island. The initial works of the Byzantines, the walls which do not exist anymore, were strengthened by the Venetians in the 16th century having opened between other more trenches in an effort to increase its defensive capacity while for more security they smoothed the walls to prevent any future attempt of invaders to climb.

Its excellent location offers additional strategic advantages to the defenders of the city being easily defensible by land as the clear visual access to the surrounding coast and the sea made it inaccessible.

Two major bastions are rising at the right and left of the central gate while the two big towers, the Tower of the land and the tower of the sea were built upon two peaks which gave the town its byzantine name, city of the peaks. Later this name prevailed for the entire island, Corfu.

Inside the Old Fortress of Corfu imposing buildings are maintained, constructed by the Venetians and the British in order to cover their military needs: a Venetian prison 1786, which later on was extended by the British, two English barracks 1850 and a military hospital which today hosts the music school.

You should definitely visit the Doric church of Saint George 1840 as well as the remarkable collection of Byzantine icons and mosaics. To the North of the Venetian Acropolis there is Mantraki, a small port while the moat surrounding the Old Fortress has been turned to be a safe anchorage for the fishing boats. As you walk directed from one place to another you must pass through tunnels, galleries and two moats. Nevertheless your destination is one: the impressive battlements from where you can enjoy a spectacular view over both the Old Town and the sea.