According to archaeological evidence the island has been inhabited since the Stone Age. From 300 BC Corfu was attacked and conquered successively by Spartans, Illyrians , and then the Romans. About 1,000 years later, in the 6th century AD the island was part of the Byzantine Empire based in Constantinople. With the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the 13th century, Corfu changed hands a few times ending up under the control of the Venetians in the 14 century.
To fend off Turkish invaders in the 15th century the Venetians constructed Corfu’s landmark “Old Fortress” on top of the remains of an 8th century Byzantine castle. We began our self-guided walking tour with a cab ride to the second largest square in Europe, the Esplanade (Spianada), with its great view of the old fortress.
At the north end of the Esplanade is the former Royal Palace, a Neoclassical mansion built in 1816 for the British High Commissioner. The building is also known as the Palace of Saints Michael & George. Abandoned in 1864 when the British left the island it now houses the Museum of Asian Art. We took a peek inside but didn’t want to spend that much time.
Plunging into the narrow streets full of shops and restaurants we headed for the Church of St. Spyridon where I sang the Buxtehude Ava’ Maria. The Greeks didn’t seem very impressed with my Latin version of Hail Mary. The 2nd century miracle working saint’s bones are housed in a silver casket adorned with precious stones and paraded around town on festival days. We walked a good distance to find the Archeological Museum at one point outrunning a couple classes of schoolchildren but much to our disappointment the museum was closed that Tuesday in late November.
We had a great lunch at Sophia on Kapodistrou. A ½ caraf of red wine, 1 coke zero, and we shared an excellent Greek salad. Judith got a chicken souvlaki meal and I got a gyro plate. Both platters were huge. Mine had 6 pita wedges, onions, French fries, a great mound of melt-in-your-mouth delicious shaved lamb, and a superb tzatziki sauce.. Hers was three big chicken skewers perfectly grilled and spiced, with fries and salad garnishes. Both were very tasty and presented by the most personable owner who went out of his way to feed us more than we deserved. Total with tip was 32 EUO. Best lunch off the ship in eight different ports of call.
Since our legs had about given out we jumped on a hop on-hop off big red bus. For 16 EUR rode the last run-of-the-day full 14 stop red and blue line tour.
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