Legendary Corfu is a lush and romantic island, written about by Homer in his famous Odyssey. It is the most northerly of the Ionian Islands, in the Ionian Sea and is separated from the Greek and Albanian mainlands by a narrow channel. Corfu Town, where you will dock, is the capital and largest town on the eastern coast of the island. Practically all the commerce of the island passes through the town, which is also a centre of tourism. You can either walk – in 5 minutes – or take the free shuttle bus to the terminal. From there, with a return ticket for €6 another coach takes passengers at ½ hourly intervals to the historic part of Corfu, next to the old fortress.
This area is full or narrow streets and a few open squares lined with cafes and souvenir shops including the elegant Liston. There are also plenty of taxis around for those wishing to explore the island or visit the central part of the city. The main sights are the 16th century Mitropoli (Corfu Cathedral), the ruins of the Old Fort (Byzantine and Venetian), New Fort (Venetian and British), the Palace of St Michael and St George (now Museum of Asiatic Art) and Aghios Spyridon Church.
The northern part of the island is mountainous with Mount Pandokrator reaching 906 m (2,972 ft), the central part hilly, and the southern part low and fairly level. The island is well watered and fertile. Olive oil, citrus fruit, figs, and textiles are principal products. Places of interest around the island include Achilleion Palace (Austrian summer palace), Moni Theotokou and Angelokastro at Paleokastritsa and the islands of Vlacherna and Pontikonisi at Kanoni.
The Corinthians were the first to settle on the Ionian Islands in the 8th century BC. From the 14th through 18th centuries, the Venetians ruled Corfu establishing it as a base for their merchant ships. But their greatest enemies were the Turks, who invaded the island on several occasions. When Venice fell to the French in 1797, thousands of French were sent to the island only to be forced out by the Russians and Turks. By 1864, Ionian Islands were granted independence under the Treaty of France, and in 1862 the islands were joined with the new state of Greece.
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