CORFU, THE EMERALD ISLAND OF GREECE
The island of Corfu, known as Kerkyra (Greek) is the second largest of the Ionian islands. With a total length of 64 km and max. width of 34 km the island has an area of 613.6 km² and a costal line of 217 km. Located off of the far northwest coast of the country, Corfu lies in the Adriatic sea, east of Italy and southwest of Albania.
The north of the island is wider and more mountainous. The highest peak is Mount Pantokrator (906 m) and the south of the island is less wide and more flat. With its charming landscape, vibrant wildflowers and slender cypresses sticking out of the olive groves, it has enchanted visitors throughout the centuries. Olive groves cover the island with all their majesty. 3 millions of them have been planted during the rule of the Venetians between the 14th and 18th century. The locals were paid a gold coin for every olive tree that they planted and the oil was then used as fuel to light the lamps of Venice.
The magnificent island is favored by almost a million visitors every year for its exceptionally pleasant weather, stunning beaches, summer vibrancy, charming old city, villages untouched by time, heroic history, rich archeology, long tradition in music, breathtaking nature, multitude of activities and colorful night life. Unique in Greece, Corfu is a mix of European history and culture, exotic scenery and almost tropical beaches.
The population of the island is approx. 120 000 people. 40 000 live in the capital Corfu town. It is a small, pleasant city with a wide history of architecture and culture. Since 2007 the city’s old town is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The town displays a unique architecture which is influenced from the different dominations, such as the Venetians, French and English. From those times, Corfu Town has kept many of its imposing buildings, elegant mansions, superb palaces, French-style flowered squares and beautiful fortresses.
Corfu has a very long and unusual history for being such a small island. Inhabitancy dates back to 1300 BC by the Phaecians. Because of its fertility and geographical location the island has been laden from battles and conquests. Located between the mainland of Greece and Italy it was right in the middle of two civilizations and the best topping point for ships and invaders. What we see today is mostly from the 16th century upwards, mostly Venetian origin, with some French and British influences.
The weather on Corfu Island is characterized by a mild, climate during both summer and winter, displaying elements of the Mediterranean climate. Spring and autumn are warm and sunny ideal for outdoor activities without extreme temperatures and summer is sunny and hot where swimming and sunbathing by the beach is best. Rainfalls and thunderstorms are frequent during winter times, humidity is high and winds can be strong.
In the mythical sea adventure of Homer’s Odyssey, Kerkyra is the island of the Phaeacians, where Odysseus (Ulysses) meets Nausica the daughter of King Alkinoos. The bay of Ermones is considered to be the place where Odysseus disembarked.
Since the early 1990s a music department has been established at the Ionian University. Aside from its academic activities, concerts in Corfu and abroad, and musicological research in the field of Neo-Hellenic Music, the Department organizes an international music academy every summer, which gathers together both international students and professors.