Fun Facts about Corfu

These fun facts about Corfu include how the island got its name, who wrote the Greek National Anthem, and the eccentric Englishman, the Earl of Guilford.

Raising a toast in Greece with ouzo glassesYammas!

The Name Game

It seems unbelievable but no-one knows for sure where the English name Corfu, or the Greek name for the island, Kerkyra, actually comes from.

‘Corfu’ probably derives from a Greek word, korifai, which means ‘peaks’ and refers to the two rocky hills on which the Old Fortress was built in the 6th century.

Kerkyra is a complete mystery, though. The Greek word kerkos means ‘handle’, and may refer to the shape of the island. Legend also has it that a nymph named either Kerkyra or Korkyra was brought to the island by the sea god Poseidon, and her name was given to the island.

Greek National Anthem

The renowned Greek poet Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857) lived in Corfu Town for much of his life and the house in which he died has been turned into a museum in his honour. Part of his poem, Hymn to Freedom, was set to music as the Greek National Anthem. It was first translated into English by the British author Rudyard Kipling in 1918.

Raising a Glass

When raising a toast on Corfu, like everywhere else in Greece, avoid clinking the bottom of your glass against the other person’s. This is seen as an attempt to put a curse on them! By the way, the Greek version of 'cheers' is 'yammas'.

A Tale of Two Places

As well as being called both Corfu and Kerkyra, the island has also been referred to as Scheria. This is the island Odysseus is washed onto when returning home from Troy to Ithaca, south of Corfu, in Homer’s epic tale, The Odyssey.

Guilford

Near the entrance to the Old Fortress in Corfu Town is a small park that leads round to the Palace of St Michael and St George. Here you will see the statue of a seated man, the 5th Earl of Guilford (1766-1827), an Englishman who lived on Corfu in the early 19th century.

Guilford was an eccentric character who converted to the Greek Orthodox faith, dressed in purple robes, and wore golden laurel wreaths in his hair. He also re-opened the Ionian Academy in Corfu Town, which went on to become modern Greece’s first university. Guilford Street, which runs due south from the Town Hall Square, is named after him.

Where to Stay on Corfu



Other Corfu pages

  • Corfu Shopping Tips

    These Corfu shopping tips include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, jewelry, gold, silver, wood carvings, and food and drink, with tips on haggling.

  • Kalámi

    Kalami in north-west Corfu is a hidden gem which many people know about because writer Lawrence Durrell once lived here in The White House.

  • Northern Corfu Drive

    There are two sides to every Greek island, the tourist and the traditional, and this drive from Corfu Town through northern Corfu shows the two faces of Corfu.

  • Corfu’s Special Cuisine

    Corfu’s special cuisine includes dishes like sofrito and pastitsade and the chance to try ginger beer and kumquats.

  • Where to Stay in North-West and Central Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in north-west and central Corfu including luxury mansions, inexpensive rooms, and resort hotels.

  • Corfu’s Marine Life

    Corfu’s marine life includes dolphins, loggerhead turtles, and rare Mediterranean monk seals.

  • Corfu Town’s Old Fortress

    Corfu Town’s Old Fortress is the town’s most striking landmark, standing east of the Old Town on top of a rocky promontory.

  • Mount Pantokrátor

    Mount Pantokrator is the highest mountain on Corfu and it’s easy to drive to the top for spectacular views of Albania, Corfu, and even sometimes to Italy.

  • Northern Corfu in Three Days

    If you want to tour northern Corfu in three days you can see busy resorts, quiet fishing villages, Mount Pantokrator, and the Andinioti Lagoon.

  • Northern Corfu

    Northern Corfu is the most diverse part of the island, with Corfu's highest point, Mt Pantokrator, and beach resorts like Sidari and Palaiokastritsa.

  • Corfu Climate: Sun, Rain, Winds

    The Corfu Climate page describes the hours of sun, the rain, the winds, to help you plan the best time to visit this Ionian island.

  • Southern Corfu

    Southern Corfu has busy beach resorts like Benitses, historical buildings like the Achilleion Palace and Gardiki Castle, and wildlife at the Korision Lagoon.

  • Corfu Offshore Islands

    There are three islands off the northwest coast of Corfu, Erikouusa, Othoni and Mathraki, popular with day-trippers from resorts like Sidari.

  • Korission Lagoon

    The Korission Lagoon on the west coast of Corfu is also called Lake Korission and has abundant wildlife, especially birds, and one of the best beaches on Corfu.

  • Visiting Albania from Corfu

    Donna Dailey of Greece Travel Secrets visits Albania by boat from Corfu Town, staying overnight and seeing archaeological sites with Sipa Tours.

  • Benítses

    Benitses is a popular resort town south of Corfu Town with its own marina, remains of a Roman Baths, an old town, and plenty of walks inland.

  • The Corfu Trail

    The Corfu Trail runs from the southernmost point of Corfu at Cape Asprokavos and winds for 220km (137 miles) to the northernmost point near Andinioti Lagoon.

  • Best Things to Do on Corfu

    The best things to do on Corfu include visiting Palaiokastritsa, a day trip to Albania, seeing the Achilleion Palace, and the museums in Corfu Town.

  • Southern Corfu Drive

    This Southern Corfu drive starts and ends in Moraïtika, taking in hill villages, secluded beaches, lovely views, and a visit to Gardiki Castle.

  • Best Beaches on Corfu

    The best beaches on Corfu, chosen by Greece Travel Secrets, include Paleokastritsa, Mirtiotissa, Sidari and Cape Asprokavos.

  • Corfu Olives

    Corfu olives are an important part of this Greek island's economy, with an estimated 3-4 million trees producing olive oil of exceptional quality.

  • Corfu Writers and Artists

    Corfu writers and artists inspired by the island include both residents and visitors, like Gerald and Lawrence Durrell, Edward Lear, and Henry Miller.

  • Corfu Town

    Corfu Town is the capital of Corfu and of the Ionian Islands and has museums, two forts, several museums, churches, and many other attractions.

  • Angelokastro

    Angelokastro is a 13th-century hilltop fortress with breath-taking views near Paleokastritsa on the Greek island of Corfu in the Ionian Islands.

  • Sidari

    Sidari is a popular holiday resort on the north coast of Corfu with beaches and unusual rock formations as well as plenty of places to eat and to stay.

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