In Corfu, the aristocratic island of the Ionian archipelago, one finds yet another aspect of the spectacular diversity that characterises the Helladic area: green, with a natural environment unlike anywhere in the Aegean, with strong influences from the Italian peninsula, and its own long history, which is lost in the time of myths. It is the administrative centre of the Ionian Islands, but also a popular tourist destination, both for its natural beauty, as well as its history and traditions. Visit the Municipality of Corfu’s official website: http://www.corfu.gr/web/guest/home
The island has been identified with Homeric Scheria, the mythical land of the Phaeacians, who welcomed Odysseus on his voyage to Ithaka. Mythology gave modern Corfu its current town emblem: the ‘rudderless ship’, which remains the symbol of the maritime skill of the Phaeacians. Corfu was part of the Roman Empire, and, during the early Christian years, it was an important metropolis and the seat of the diocese.
During the Byzantine era, Corfu enjoyed conditions of relative security. A trace of this period can be found in Palaiopoli, in the 10th century church of Agios Iasonos and Sosipatros. Some of the castles, like Angelokastro in the west, Kassioti in the north and Gardiki in the south are also Byzantine.
Following the defeat of the Byzantine state by the crusaders of the 4th Crusade, Corfu was included in the Venetian share and remained, with some slight changes, under their domination until the first French occupation in 1797, which gave it a fate different from that of the other areas of Greece, which fell into the hands of the Ottomans. The democratic French were followed by the Russian-Ottoman alliance, under the protection of whom the Septinsular Republic was founded. Then came the imperial French and, finally, the English, with the founding of the United States of the Ionian Islands. Corfu, along with the rest of the Ionian islands were incorporated into Greece following the death of Ioannis Capodistrias in 1864.