Place:Corfu, Kerkyras, Ionian Islands, Greece

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NameCorfu
Alt namesCorcyrasource: Wikipedia
Corfousource: BHA, Authority file (2003-)
Drepanesource: Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1979) p 449-551
Kerkyrasource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998) p 8174; Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1979) p 449-451
Korfusource: ARLIS/NA: Ancient Site Names (1995)
Korkyrasource: Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1979) p 449-451
Kérkirasource: Getty Vocabulary Program
Kérkyrasource: Wikipedia
TypeCity or town
Coordinates39.633°N 19.917°E
Located inKerkyras, Ionian Islands, Greece
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Corfu or Kerkyra is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands,[1] and, including its small satellite islands, forms the northwesternmost part of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality, which also includes the smaller islands of Ereikoussa, Mathraki and Othonoi. The municipality has an area of 610,9 km2, the island proper 592,8 km2. The principal city of the island and seat of the municipality (pop. 32,095) is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University.

The island is bound up with the history of Greece from the beginnings of Greek mythology. Its history is full of battles and conquests. Ancient Korkyra took part in the Battle of Sybota which was a catalyst for the Peloponnesian War, and, according to Thucydides, the largest naval battle between Greek city states until that time. Thucydides also reports that Korkyra was one of the three great naval powers of fifth century BC Greece, along with Athens and Corinth. Medieval castles punctuating strategic locations across the island are a legacy of struggles in the Middle Ages against invasions by pirates and the Ottomans. Two of these castles enclose its capital, which is the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. As a result, Corfu's capital has been officially declared a Kastropolis ("castle city") by the Greek government. From medieval times and into the 17th century, the island, having successfully repulsed the Ottomans during several sieges, was recognised as a bulwark of the European States against the Ottoman Empire and became one of the most fortified places in Europe. The fortifications of the island were used by the Venetians to defend against Ottoman intrusion into the Adriatic. Corfu eventually fell under British rule following the Napoleonic Wars. Corfu was eventually ceded by the British Empire along with the remaining islands of the United States of the Ionian Islands, and unification with modern Greece was concluded in 1864 under the Treaty of London.

In 2007, the city's old quarter was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, following a recommendation by ICOMOS.

Corfu is a very popular tourist destination. The island was the location of the 1994 European Union summit.

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early history

The earliest reference to Corfu is the Mycenaean Greek word ko-ro-ku-ra-i-jo ("man from Kerkyra") written in Linear B syllabic script, c. 1300 BC. According to Strabo, Corcyra (Κόρκυρα) was the Homeric island of Scheria (Σχερία), and its earliest inhabitants were the Phaeacians (Φαίακες). The island has indeed been identified by some scholars with Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians described in Homer's Odyssey, though conclusive and irrefutable evidence for this theory or for Ithaca's location have not been found. Apollonius of Rhodes depicts the island in Argonautica as a place visited by the Argonauts. Jason and Medea were married there in 'Medea's Cave'. Apollonius named the island Drepane, Greek for "sickle", since it was thought to hide the sickle that Cronus used to castrate his father Uranus, from whose blood the Phaeacians were descended. In an alternative account, Apollonius identifies the buried sickle as a scythe belonging to Demeter, yet the name Drepane probably originated in the sickle-shape of the island. According to a scholiast, commenting on the passage in Argonautica, the island was first of all called Macris after the nurse of Dionysus who fled there from Euboea.

Others have asserted that Corfu was Taphos, the island of the lelegian Taphians.

According to Strabo (VI, 269), the Liburnians were masters of the island Korkyra (Corfu), until 735 BC, when they left it, under pressure of Corinthian ruler Hersikrates, in a period of Corinthian expansion to South Italy, Sicily and Ionian Sea.

At a date no doubt previous to the foundation of Syracuse, Corfu was peopled by settlers from Corinth, probably 730 BC, but it appears to have previously received a stream of emigrants from Eretria. The commercially advantageous location of Corcyra on the way between Greece and Magna Grecia, and its fertile lowlands in the southern section of the island favoured its growth and, influenced perhaps by the presence of non-Corinthian settlers, its people, quite contrary to the usual practice of Corinthian colonies, maintained an independent and even hostile attitude towards the mother city.[2]


This opposition came to a head in the early part of the 7th century BC, when their fleets fought the first naval battle recorded in Greek history: 665 BC according to Thucydides. These hostilities ended in the conquest of Corcyra by the Corinthian tyrant Periander (Περίανδρος) who induced his new subjects to join in the colonization of Apollonia and Anactorium. The island soon regained its independence and thenceforth devoted itself to a purely mercantile policy. During the Persian invasion of 480 BC it manned the second largest Greek fleet (60 ships), but took no active part in the war. In 435 BC it was again involved in a quarrel with Corinth over the control of Epidamnus, and sought assistance from Athens (see Battle of Sybota).[2]

This new alliance was one of the chief immediate causes of the Peloponnesian War, in which Corcyra was of considerable use to the Athenians as a naval station, but did not render much assistance with its fleet. The island was nearly lost to Athens by two attempts of the oligarchic faction to effect a revolution; on each occasion the popular party ultimately won the day and took a most bloody revenge on its opponents (427 BC and 425 BC). [2]

During the Sicilian campaigns of Athens Corcyra served as a supply base; after a third abortive rising of the oligarchs in 410 BC it practically withdrew from the war. In 375 BC it again joined the Athenian alliance; two years later it was besieged by a Spartan force, but in spite of the devastation of its flourishing countryside held out successfully until relieved. In the Hellenistic period Corcyra was exposed to attack from several sides.[2]

In 303 BC, after a vain siege by Cassander,[2] the island was occupied for a short time by the Lacedaemonian general Cleonymus of Sparta, then regained its independence and later it was attacked and conquered by Agathocles of Syracuse. He offered Corfu as dowry to his daughter Lanassa on her marriage to Pyrrhus, King of Epirus. The island then became a member of the Epirotic alliance. It was then perhaps that the settlement of Cassiope was founded to serve as a base for the King of Epirus' expeditions. The island remained in the Epirotic alliance until 255 BC when it became independent after the death of Alexander, last King of Epirus. In 229 BC, following the naval battle of Paxos, it was captured by the Illyrians, but was speedily delivered by a Roman fleet and remained a Roman naval station until at least 189 BC. At this time, it was governed by a prefect (presumably nominated by the consuls), but in 148 BC it was attached to the province of Macedonia. In 31 BC, it served Octavian (Augustus) as a base against Mark Antony.[2]

Roman and medieval history

Christianity arrived in Corfu early; two disciples of Saint Paul, Jason of Tarsus and Sosipatrus of Patras, taught the Gospel, and according to tradition the city of Corfu and much of the island converted to Christianity. Their relics were housed in the old cathedral (at the site of the current Old Fortress, before a dedicated church was built for them .

During Late Antiquity (late Roman/early Byzantine period), the island formed part of the province of Epirus Vetus in the praetorian prefecture of Illyricum. In 551, during the Gothic War, the Ostrogoths raided the island and destroyed the city of Corfu, then known as Chersoupolis (Χερσούπολις, "city on the promontory") because of its location between Garitsa Bay and Kanoni. Over the next centuries, the main settlement was moved north, to the location of the current Old Fortress, where the rocky hills offered natural protection against raids. From the twin peaks of the new site, the medieval city received its new name, Korypho (Κορυφώ, "city on the peak") or Korphoi (Κορφοί, "peaks"), whence the modern Western name of "Corfu". The previous site of the city, now known as Palaiopolis (Παλαιόπολις, "old city"), continued to be inhabited for several centuries, however.

From at least the early 9th century, Corfu and the other Ionian Islands formed part of the theme of Cephallenia. This naval theme provided a defensive bulwark for Byzantium against western threats, but also played a major role in securing the sealanes to the Byzantine possessions in southern Italy. Indeed, traveller reports from throughout the middle Byzantine period (8th–12th centuries) make clear that Corfu was "an important staging post for travels between East and West". Indeed, the medieval name of Corfu first appears (Latinized Coryphus) in Liutprand of Cremona's account of his 968 embassy to the Byzantine court. Corfu enjoyed relative peace and safety during the Macedonian dynasty (867–1054), which allowed the construction of a monumental church to Saints Iason and Sosipatrus outside the city wall of Palaiopolis. Nevertheless, in 933, the city, led by its archbishop, Arsenios, withstood a Saracen attack; Arsenios was canonized and became the city's patron saint.

The peace and prosperity of the Macedonian era ended with another Saracen attack in 1033, but more importantly with the emergence of a new threat: following the Norman conquest of Southern Italy, the ambitious Norman monarchs set their sights on expansion in the East. Three times on the space of a century Corfu was the first target and served as a staging area for the Norman invasions of Byzantium. The first Norman occupation from 1081 to 1084 was ended only after the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos secured the aid of the Republic of Venice, in exchange to wide-ranging commercial concessions to Venetian merchants. The admiral George of Antioch captured Corfu again in 1147, and it took a ten-month siege for Manuel I Komnenos to recover the island in 1149. In the third invasion in 1185, the island was again captured by William II of Sicily, but was soon regained by Isaac II Angelos.

During the break-up of the Byzantine Empire the island was occupied by Genoese privateers (1197–1207), who in turn were expelled by the Venetians. In 1214 it passed to the Greek despots of Epirus,[2] who gave it to Manfred of Sicily as a dowry in 1259. At his death in 1267 it passed with his other possessions to the house of Anjou. Under the latter, the island suffered considerably from the inroads of various adventurers.[2]

The island was one of the first places in Europe in which Romani people ("Gypsies") settled. In about 1360, a fiefdom, called the Feudum Acinganorum was established, with mainly Romani serfs.

From 1386, Corfu was controlled by the Republic of Venice, which in 1401 acquired formal sovereignty and retained it until the French Occupation of 1797.[2]

Venetian rule

From medieval times and into the 17th century, the island was recognised as a bulwark of the European States against the Ottoman Empire and became one of the most fortified places in Europe.[3] The fortifications of the island were used by the Venetians to defend against Ottoman intrusion into the Adriatic. Corfu repulsed several Ottoman sieges, before passing under British rule following the Napoleonic Wars.

Kerkyra, the "Door of Venice" during the centuries when the whole Adriatic was the Gulf of Venice, remained in Venetian hands from 1401 until 1797, though several times assailed by Ottoman naval and land forces[2] and subjected to four notable sieges in 1537, 1571, 1573 and 1716, in which the strength of the city defences asserted itself time after time. The effectiveness of the powerful Venetian fortifications as well as the strength of some old Byzantine castles in Angelokastro, Kassiopi Castle, Gardiki and elsewhere, were additional factors that enabled Corfu to remain free. Will Durant claimed that Corfu owed to the Republic of Venice the fact that it was one of the few parts of Greece never conquered by the Ottomans.

A series of attempts by the Ottomans to take the island began in 1431 when Ottoman troops under Ali Bey landed on the island. The Ottomans tried to take the city castle and raided the surrounding area, but were repulsed.


The Siege of Corfu (1537) was the first great siege by the Ottomans. It began on 29 August 1537, with 25,000 soldiers from the Ottoman fleet landing and pillaging the island and taking 20,000 hostages as slaves. Despite the destruction wrought on the countryside, the city castle held out in spite of repeated attempts over twelve days to take it, and the Turks left the island unsuccessfully because of poor logistics and an epidemic that decimated their ranks.[4]

Thirty-four years later, in August 1571, Ottoman forces returned for yet another attempt to conquer the island. Having seized Parga and Mourtos from the Greek mainland side, they attacked the Paxi islands. Subsequently they landed on Corfu's southeast shore and established a large beachhead all the way from the southern tip of the island at Lefkimi to Ipsos in Corfu's eastern midsection. These areas were thoroughly pillaged as in past encounters. Nevertheless the city castle stood firm again, a testament to Corfiot-Venetian steadfastness as well as the Venetian castle-building engineering skills. Another castle, Angelokastro, situated on the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa (Greek: Παλαιοκαστρίτσα meaning Old Castle place) and located on particularly steep and rocky terrain, also held out. The castle is a tourist attraction today.[4]

These defeats in the east and the west of the island proved decisive, and the Ottomans abandoned their siege and departed. Two years later they repeated their attempt. Coming from Africa after a victorious campaign, they landed in Corfu and wreaked havoc on rural areas. Following a counterattack by the Venetian-Corfiot forces, the Ottoman troops were forced to leave the city sailing away.[4]


The second great siege of Corfu took place in 1716, during the last Ottoman–Venetian War (1714–18). After the conquest of the Peloponnese in 1715, the Ottoman fleet appeared in Buthrotum opposite Corfu. On 8 July the Ottoman fleet, carrying 33,000 men, sailed to Corfu from Buthrotum and established a beachhead at Ipsos.[4] The same day, the Venetian fleet encountered the Ottoman fleet off the Corfu Channel and defeated it in the ensuing naval battle. On 19 July, after taking a few outlying forts, the Ottoman army reached the hills around the city of Corfu and laid siege to it. Despite repeated assaults and heavy fighting, the Ottomans were unable to breach the defences and were forced to raise the siege after 22 days. The 5,000 Venetians and foreign mercenaries, together with 3,000 Corfiotes, under the leadership of Count von der Schulenburg who commanded the defence of the island, were victorious once more.[5][4] The success was owed in no small part to the extensive fortifications, where Venetian castle engineering had proven itself once again against considerable odds. The repulse of the Ottomans was widely celebrated in Europe, Corfu being seen as a bastion of Western civilization against the Ottoman tide.[6] Today, however, this role is often relatively unknown or ignored, but was celebrated in Juditha triumphans by the Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi.

Venetian policies and legacy

Corfu's urban architecture differs from that of other major Greek cities, because of Corfu's unique history. From 1386 to 1797, Corfu was ruled by Venetian nobility; much of the city reflects this era when the island belonged to the Republic of Venice, with multi-storied buildings on narrow lanes. The Old Town of Corfu has clear Venetian influence and is amongst the World Heritage Sites in Greece. It was in the Venetian period that the city saw the erection of the first opera house (Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo di Corfù) in Greece, but it was badly damaged during World War II by German artillery.

Many Venetian-speaking families settled in Corfu during these centuries; they were called Corfiot Italians, and until the second half of the 20th century the Veneto da mar was spoken in Corfu. During this time, the local Greek language assimilated a large number of Italian and Venetian words, many of which are still common today. The internationally renowned Venetian-born British photographer Felice Beato (1832–1909) is thought to have spent much of his childhood in Corfu. Also many Italian Jews took refuge in Corfu during the Venetian centuries and spoke their own language (Italkian), a mixture of Hebrew-Italian in a Venetian or Apulian dialect with some Greek words.

Venetians promoted the Catholic Church during their four centuries of rule in Corfu. Today the majority of Corfiots are Greek Orthodox, but the small Catholic minority (5%), living harmoniously with the Orthodox community, owes its faith to these origins. These contemporary Catholics are mostly families who came from Malta, but also from Italy, and today the Catholic community numbers about 4,000 ( of Maltese descent), who live almost exclusively in the Venetian "Citadel" of Corfu City. Like other native Greek Catholics, they celebrate Easter using the same calendar as the Greek Orthodox church. The Cathedral of St. James and St. Christopher in Corfu City is the see of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Corfu, Zakynthos and Cephalonia.

The island served also as a refuge for Greek scholars, and in 1732, it became the home of the first academy of modern Greece.[2] A Corfu cleric and scholar, Nikephoros Theotokis (1732–1800) became renowned in Greece as an educator, and in Russia (where he moved later in his life) as an Orthodox archbishop.

The island's culture absorbed Venetian influence in a variety of ways; like other Ionian islands (see Cuisine of the Ionian islands), its local cuisine took in such elements and today's Corfiot cooking includes Venetian delicacies and recipes: "Pastitsada", deriving from the Venetian "Pastissada" (Italian: "Spezzatino") and the most popular dish in the island of Corfu, "Sofrito", "Strapatsada", "Savoro", "Bianco" and "Mandolato".

19th century

By the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio, Corfu was ceded to the French, who occupied it for two years as the département of Corcyre, until they were expelled by a joint Russian-Ottoman squadron under Admiral Ushakov. For a short time it became the capital of a self-governing federation of the Heptanesos ("Seven Islands"), under Ottoman suzerainty; in 1807 after the Treaty of Tilsit its faction-ridden government was again replaced by a French administration under governor François-Xavier Donzelot, and in 1809 it was besieged in vain by a British fleet, which had taken all the other Ionian islands.[2]

The Ionian Islands became a protectorate of the United Kingdom by the Treaty of Paris of 5 November 1815 as the United States of the Ionian Islands. Corfu became the seat of the British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands.[2] The period of British rule is sometimes considered a prosperous period for Corfu when we consider new roads, an improved water supply system, and the building of the first Greek university to be a sign of prosperity. During this period the Greek language became official.

Following a plebiscite the Second National Assembly of the Greeks at Athens elected a new king, Prince Wilhelm (William) of Denmark, who took the name George I and brought with him the Ionian Islands as a coronation gift from Britain. On 29 March 1864, the United Kingdom, Greece, France and Russia signed the Treaty of London, pledging the transfer of sovereignty to Greece upon ratification. Thus, on 21 May, by proclamation of the Lord High Commissioner, the Ionian Islands were united with Greece.[4]

British Lord High Commissioners during the protectorate

This is a list of the British High Commissioners of the Ionian Islands; (as well as the transitional Greek Governor, appointed a year prior to Enosis (Union) with Greece in 1864).

First World War

During the First World War, the island served as a refuge for the Serbian army that retreated there on Allied forces' ships from a homeland occupied by the Austrians, Germans and Bulgarians. During their stay, a large portion of Serbian soldiers died from exhaustion, food shortage, and various diseases. Most of their remains were buried at sea near the island of Vido, a small island at the mouth of Corfu port, and a monument of thanks to the Greek nation has been erected at Vido by the grateful Serbs; consequently, the waters around Vido Island are known by the Serbian people as the Blue Tomb (in Serbian, Плава Гробница, Plava Grobnica), after a poem written by Milutin Bojić following World War I.

Interwar period

In 1923, after a diplomatic dispute between Italy and Greece, Italian forces bombarded and occupied Corfu. The League of Nations settled this Corfu incident.

Second World War and resistance

Italian occupation

During the Greco-Italian War, Corfu was occupied by the Italians in April 1941. They administered Corfu and the Ionian islands as a separate entity from Greece until September 1943, following Benito Mussolini's orders of fulfilling Italian Irredentism and making Corfu part of the Kingdom of Italy. During the Second World War the 10th infantry regiment of the Greek Army, composed mainly of Corfiot soldiers, was assigned the task of defending Corfu. The regiment took part in Operation Latzides, which was a heroic but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to stem the forces of the Italians.[7] After Greece's surrender to the Axis, the island came under Italian control and occupation.[7] On the first Sunday of November 1941, high school students from all over Corfu took part in student protests against the occupying Italian army; these student protests of the island were among the first acts of overt popular Resistance in occupied Greece and a rare phenomenon even by wartime European standards.[7] Subsequently, a considerable number of Corfiots escaped to Epirus in mainland Greece and enlisted as partisans in ELAS and EDES, in order to join the resistance movement gathering in the mainland.[7]

German occupation

Upon the fall of Italian fascism in 1943, the Nazis moved to take control of the island. On 14 September 1943, Corfu was bombarded by the Luftwaffe; these bombing raids destroyed churches, homes, whole city blocks, especially in the Jewish quarter Evraiki, and a number of important buildings, such as the Ionian Parliament, the Municipal Theatre, the Municipal Library and others.[7] The Italians capitulated, and the island came under German occupation. Corfu's mayor at the time, Kollas, was a known collaborator and various anti-semitic laws were passed by the Nazis that now formed the occupation government of the island. In early June 1944, while the Allies bombed Corfu as a diversion from the Normandy landings, the Gestapo rounded up the Jews of the city, temporarily incarcerated them at the old fort (Palaio Frourio), and on 10 June sent them to Auschwitz, where very few survived.[8] Approximately two hundred out of a total population of 1,900 escaped. Many among the local population at the time provided shelter and refuge to those 200 Jews that managed to escape the Nazis. A section of the old city is called Evraiki (Εβραική, meaning Jewish quarter), where there is currently a synagogue with about 65 members, who still speak their original Italkian language.[9]

Liberation

Corfu was liberated by British troops, specifically the 40th Royal Marine Commando, which landed in Corfu on 14 October 1944, as the Germans were evacuating Greece. The Royal Navy swept the Corfu Channel for mines in 1944 and 1945, and found it to be free of mines. A large minefield was laid there shortly afterwards by the newly communist Albania and gave rise to the Corfu Channel Incident.[10] This incident led to the Corfu Channel Case, where the United Kingdom opened a case against the People's Republic of Albania at the International Court of Justice.

Post–World War and modern Corfu

After World War II and the Greek Civil War, the island was rebuilt under the general programme of reconstruction of the Greek Government (Ανοικοδόμησις) and many elements of its classical architecture remain. Its economy grew but a portion of its inhabitants left the island for other parts of the country; buildings erected during Italian occupation – such as schools or government buildings – were put back to civic use. In 1956 Maria Desylla Kapodistria, relative of first Governor (head of state) of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias, was elected mayor of Corfu and became the first female mayor in Greece. The Corfu General Hospital was also constructed; electricity was introduced to the villages in the 1950s, the radio substation of Hellenic Radio in Corfu was inaugurated in March 1957, and television was introduced in the 1960s, with internet connections in 1995. The Ionian University was established in 1984.

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