There is a quality about the island of Corfu that makes it stand out above all other islands or areas in Greece. A strong sense of regal nobility rises out of the island’s history, architecture and inhabitants. Of course such a flair can easily turn into a pompous sense of superiority from which we ail from time to time.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was born Philippos Prince of Greece and Denmark on the Greek Island of Corfu in 1921. He was born in the Villa of Mon Repos which was built as a summer residence for the English Commissioner Thomas Maitland, and his Greek spouse, Corfiot Nina Palatianou, in 1828-1831. Several royal births have taken place at the palace including H.R.H. Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark on 10 July 1965.
After the union with Greece in 1864, the palace was granted to King George I of the Hellenes as a summer residence. The royal family used it as a summer residence up to the end of monarchy in 1967. Today the villa and its gardens are the property of the Corfu municipality, now being used as an archaeological museum.
Empress Elisabeth of Austria commissioned the building of another palace on the island of Corfu which she named the Achilleion, after Homer’s hero Achilles in The Iliad in 1890. Elisabeth spoke Greek better than any of the Greek queens that were her contemporaries and she expressed a desire to further immerse herself in the Greek culture.
Palace of King Alkinoos yet to be found
The Palace of St. Michael and St. George that jewels the northern end of Corfu Town square was built by Sir Frederick Adam, the British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands in 1819. Used as a royal residence on many occasions it now houses the unique Asian Art museum. On an even earlier note the Palace of King Alkinoos where Ulysses recounts his journey’s tale in the Homeric epic is said to be on the island of Corfu but is yet to be found. Today members of the British Royal Family holiday here as do the Royal families of Morocco and Qatar.
For a taste of this yourself head for an evening stroll along the Liston esplanade which was architecturally styled after the Rue de Rivolli. Walk up and down here as did the notable royals in the 19th century who where only allowed to stroll here if there family name was on the list. Dressed in your best attire the aim is to look and be looked at.
Soon to close doors to royal ancestors
For the jewel in the crown experience grab a free table at the “Olympia” Caffe and order a traditional mocca ice cream. It opened its doors in 1928 and is synonym to the Liston, sadly it is soon to close its doors to our noble ancestors!