The Invasion of Corfu

From Nero to Nicolas Cage, the invasion of Corfu goes back to Roman times and through to Hollywood today!

People have been so enchanted by Corfu that they have been visiting and settling there for thousands of years. Madonna has beenspotted house-hunting on the island, continuing a long tradition. The Roman Emperor Tiberius had a villa in Kassiopi, and the Emperor Nero visited the town as well. Today you might see a nightclub called Caesar's, but it doesn't quite date back to Roman times.

Sidari

You might also look at Sidari and see a modern holiday resort, but there were known to be people living here in 7,000 BC, no doubt enjoying the sun and the sea every bit as much as we do today, though of course the waterpark hadn't yet been invented. Even older than that, back in about 40,000 BC, Palaeolithic people were living in the area around Gardiki Castle, the oldest known remains on the island.

Since the first settlers arrived, wave after wave of people have coveted Corfu. The first known invasion was by the Corinthians in 734 BC, and they had more than package holidays in mind. They were fought off by the Corfiot people who defeated them in what was the first recorded sea battle in Greek waters, in 644 BC. 

Some Cool Corfu Souvenirs

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Paleokastritsa Luggage Tag

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Corfu Cypresses Capri Leggings

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Corfu T-shirt

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Corfu Tote Bag

The Invasion of Corfu: The Romans

No sooner had the Corinthians been shown the way home than the Spartans arrived, in 375 BC. Then the Romans turned up on the shoreline, in 229 BC. The Romans were at least invited in, as the Corfiots sought their help to get rid of Illyrian invaders.

Having got rid of the Illyrians, the Romans obviously liked it on Corfu as they stayed for almost 600 years, during which time some of their Emperors and other dignitaries built villas here. It was also a popular spot for those who could afford it to come on holiday, so the island's first tourists go back about 2,000 years.

Later invasions by the Goths and Vandals didn't do much for the tourist trade, and the pizza parlours probably went out of business. In the 11th century it was the turn of the Normans, who took Corfu to use as a base while they tried to expand their empire into the Balkans, but in 1147 they were turfed out of Corfu by a coalition of Corfiot, Byzantine, and Venetian troops.

The Invasion of Corfu: The Venetians

In 1214 the Despot of Epirus invaded, Epirus being a country made up of what is now southern Albania and northern Greece. In 1267 it was the King of Naples' turn to rule the island, and in 1386 the Venetians took over. It is the Corfiots' proud boast that they were the only part of Greece not to be conquered by the Turkish armies, though it has to be said that the Turks are just about the only nation not to have conquered Corfu at some stage.

Our Pick of Greek Islands Guides

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The Invasion of Corfu: The British

In 1797 the French took the island, and in 1814 the British took over for their turn, which lasted 50 years. Finally in 1864 Corfu gained its independence and became a part of the modern Greek state. Since then there have only been a brief invasion by the Italians in 1923, and again in 1941 when they controlled the island for three years alongside German forces.

Modern Times

In more recent times the island has had mainly peace and prosperity, with tourists as welcome guests. A million of them arrive each year between Easter and the end of October, when the season is in full swing. There is also a sizeable overseas community, mainly British and German, who live on the island all year round. Others have homes on Corfu which they use for part of the year.

Nicolas Cage fell in love with Corfu, which he visited after filming Captain Corelli's Mandolin on the nearby Ionian island of Kefalonia, and has subsequently been seen house-hunting here. So too have Richard Gere and Madonna. It seems the only invasion these days is from Hollywood.

Other Corfu Pages

  • Greece Travel Secrets’ pick of where to stay in southern Corfu including hotels in Moraïtika, Paramonas, Messonghi, Agios Georgios, and near Benitses.

    Where to Stay in Southern Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets’ pick of where to stay in southern Corfu including hotels in Moraïtika, Paramonas, Messonghi, Agios Georgios, and near Benitses.

  • This Lawrence Durrell walk takes you from Kaminaki Beach in northern Corfu to the White House in Kalami where the writer Lawrence Durrell lived for four year.

    A Lawrence Durrell Walk

    This Lawrence Durrell walk takes you from Kaminaki Beach in northern Corfu to the White House in Kalami where the writer Lawrence Durrell lived for four year.

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

    Angelokastro

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

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

    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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • This Mount Pantokrator drive takes you to the top of Corfu’s highest mountain with wonderful views to Albania, mainland Greece, and around Corfu.

    Mount Pantokrator Drive

    This Mount Pantokrator drive takes you to the top of Corfu’s highest mountain with wonderful views to Albania, mainland Greece, and around Corfu.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • Paleokastritsa is on the west coast of Corfu and is one of the most popular holiday spots. This page gives information on beaches, boat trips, weather and map.

    Paleokastritsa, Corfu

    Paleokastritsa is on the west coast of Corfu and is one of the most popular holiday spots. This page gives information on beaches, boat trips, weather and map.

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

    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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • Greece Travel Secrets picks the best time to visit Corfu, with a monthly summary of the weather, plus hotel prices and special events to help plan a visit.

    Best Time to Visit Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets picks the best time to visit Corfu, with a monthly summary of the weather, plus hotel prices and special events to help plan a visit.

  • 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.

    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.

  •  Information for travelers on Corfu Food and Drink including restaurants and tavernas, Corfiot specialties, desserts, wine and other Greek drinks like ouzo.

    Corfu Food and Drink

    Information for travelers on Corfu Food and Drink including restaurants and tavernas, Corfiot specialties, desserts, wine and other Greek drinks like ouzo.

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

    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.

  • Greece Travel Secrets has its list of favourite places where you can eat in north-west Corfu, including in Paleokastritsa, Pelekas, and Ayios Stefanos.

    Where to Eat in North-West Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets has its list of favourite places where you can eat in north-west Corfu, including in Paleokastritsa, Pelekas, and Ayios Stefanos.

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

    Best Beaches on Corfu

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

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

    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.

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

    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.

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

    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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • This is the Greece Travel Secrets selection of where to eat in northern Corfu, from classy restaurants and traditional tavernas to beachside fish tavernas.

    Where to Eat in Northern Corfu

    This is the Greece Travel Secrets selection of where to eat in northern Corfu, from classy restaurants and traditional tavernas to beachside fish tavernas.

  • Greece Travel Secrets picks where to stay in northern Corfu with budget and luxury hotels in Sidari, Daphnila Bay, Kontokali, Ipsos, Barbati and more.

    Where to Stay in Northern Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets picks where to stay in northern Corfu with budget and luxury hotels in Sidari, Daphnila Bay, Kontokali, Ipsos, Barbati and more.

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