Corfu Town’s Byzantine Museum

Corfu Town’s Byzantine Museum is a little gem, one of the town’s top museums with an excellent collection of Byzantine art in a 15th-century church.

Corfu Town's Byzantine MuseumCorfu Town's Byzantine Museum

Where is Corfu Town’s Byzantine Museum?

Set along the corniche road between the Old Fortress and the Old Port, the Byzantine Museum houses one of Corfu’s greatest artistic legacies. The 15th-century former church is the perfect home for some 90 icons dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. They represent one of Greece’s most important contributions to medieval art.

The official name of the museum is actually the Museum Antivouniotissa, after the church in which it is housed, but everyone refers to it as the Byzantine Museum so we’ve stuck with that.

Google Map showing Corfu Town's Byzantine MuseumMap (c) Google Maps

Church of the Panagía Antivouniótissa

The Church of the Panagía Antivouniótissa, built at the end of the 15c, is one of the oldest and richest religious monuments on Corfu. Standing atop a steep flight of steps, the single-aisle, timber-roofed basilica with its plain exterior is characteristic of Corfiot churches of the time. The museum preserves the church’s impressive interior features, while using the narthexes which surround it on three sides to display its priceless collection of icons.

Cretan School of Art

From the fall of Constantinople in 1453 until 1669, Venetian-occupied Crete was the most important artistic centre in Greece. An eclectic style of icon painting flourished, known as the Cretan School of Art, attracting commissions from monasteries and noblemen abroad. Corfu became a major stepping stone for Cretan painters en route to Venice, such as Thomas Bathos who lived here in 1585-87.

Emmanuel Tzanés, whose works can be seen in the museum, is credited with introducing the Cretan style to Corfu in the 17the century. After Crete fell to the Ottomans in 1669, many more artists found refuge on the island and their influence spread. Thus a vital force in Byzantine traditional art was kept alive on Corfu.

Byzantine Treasures

A museum visit begins upstairs in the former sacristy, where church silver, richly embroidered vestments, jewelled crosses, gold communion vessels and other Byzantine treasures are displayed. The Lamentation, a 19th-century altar cloth, is an incredible work of raised embroidery depicting the laying of Christ’s body in the tomb.

Downstairs, icons are displayed in chronological order around the vestibules, beginning with early pieces of fresco. Most belong to the church, while others come from the old Byzantine collection of the Museum of Asiatic Art. They feature popular Byzantine subjects including the Virgin and Child, Christ Pantokrator, and St George slaying the Dragon.

Tip: Allow at least half an hour to explore Corfu Town’s Byzantine Museum.

More Icons

More icons are displayed in the church, which has been beautifully restored. Above the high wooden pews the painted walls have been stencilling to look like flocked wallpaper. The coffered ceiling is ornamented with gilded woodcarvings. A balcony at the back affords a closer look and a fine view over the nave.

In the rear vestibule on the outside wall of the church, look for the large icon depicting Saints Sergius, Bacchus and Justine by Michael Damaskenos (16th century), one of the greatest masters of the art. Notice that, compared to other icons, there is more detail and shadow in the faces, knees and legs, which gives his work a more realistic human form.

More Information on Corfu Town’s Byzantine Museum

Visit the museum’s official website.

Where to Stay on Corfu

Other Corfu Town pages

  • A Walk in Old Corfu Town

    This walk in Old Corfu Town, or Campiello, takes you from the Liston through the narrow back streets and alleyways and should take about one to two hours.

  • Church of Saint Spyrídon

    The church of Saint Spyrídon (Ayios Spyridon) in Corfu Town is a must-see site and contains the silver casket of the island’s patron saint.

  • Corfu Town Archaeological Museum

    Corfu’s small archaeological museum holds two of the finest treasures of ancient Greece, the Gorgon pediment and the Lion of Menekrates

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Traditional Pies from the Windy Aegean Isles

    Islanders make a huge variety of pies. They roll out sheets of pastry like silk or make fluffy pockets of dough, and fill them with wild greens and delicious cheeses.

    Read More

  2. Discovering “Handcrafted Crete,” a New Coffee Table Book

    A new coffee table book by travel writer Isabella Zambetaki presents the enormous variety and wealth of Crete's handicrafts, past and present.

    Read More

  3. Mini Guide: Essential Tinos

    Read on for the best summer hangouts on charming Tinos, from village cafes and tavernas to spectacular beaches and cultural tours, in one mini guide.

    Read More

  4. Multifaceted Greek Experiences From Delphi to Nafpaktos

    From lush and historical natural sites with jaw-dropping views to shopping, dining and fun activities, this route offers a cornucopia of things to discover.

    Read More

  5. Kythnos: The Outsider of the Cyclades

    Even though close to Attica, Kythnos knows how to stay under the radar. This carefree island is the ideal destination for our first summer excursions.

    Read More

  6. 5 Amazing Spots To Enjoy Sunset In Athens

    When thinking about summer in Greece, one of the first things that pop into your mind, except for the sandy beaches and turquoise waters, is the unsurpassed sunsets of the Greek islands. Indeed, sunse…

    Read More

  7. Rivers In Greece That Offer An Incredible Swimming Experience

    Sun-drenched beaches with crystal-clear waters and fine sand are what Greece is mostly known for all around the world. And, justifiably so, since Greece has a coastline of a whopping 13,676 kilometers…

    Read More

  8. 15 Fun Holiday Activities To Enjoy With Your Kids

    Summer is already here, and the summer holidays are fast approaching. So, if you plan to enjoy them with your family, it would be great to have some activities planned. As you know, children (and adul…

    Read More

  9. 11 Shipwrecks Now Accessible to Divers

    Greece’s Ministry of Culture announces its decision to make 11 wrecks accessible to divers, under the supervision of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.

    Read More

  10. Monemvasia: Europe’s Oldest Continuously Inhabited Castle Town is in Greece

    Monemvasia, on the southeastern shores of the Peloponnese, Greece is Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited castle town. Founded in 583 by inhabitants of the mainland seeking refuge from the Slavic an…

    Read More