Palaeopolis in Corfu: The Ancient Agora of Corfu Town is believed to have been located in Palaeopolis. Archaeologists believe that numerous public structures and buildings of great architectural significance were built near Palaeopolis, along with a handful of sanctuaries, highly-evolved workshops, and residences of wealthy merchants and ambassadors. Plus, there was also the harbor of Alkinoos, where shipping vessels from faraway countries used to lay anchor!
The ancient town of Corfu became widely known when the impregnable Venetian fortress placed on the site of Garitsa Hill was demolished back in 1843! This particular area was referred to as the Palaeopolis in the local dialect, meaning the ancient town, and it was created as a result of the Corinthian overrule. Believed to date back to the 8th century BC, the fortification that encircles Corfu Town from three sides is also of particular significance, dating back to the 4th century BC!
The manner in which the fortification was built is a testimonial to the high degree of craftsmanship in the Ionians during that time period! Key centers were positioned strategically, with the port of Alkinoos facing the north, the Lagoon of Chalkiopoulos out west, and the Mon Repos toward the east.
The marketplace is said to have been located on the northern side of the current Garitsa Bay, with the town's acropolis right where the region of Analipsi stands today. The fortification had just a solitary tower strategically located right at the entry of Alkinoos port, which today houses the lovely Orthodox church of Agios Athanasios! Not far from the cemetery, one can see the nearby tower of Nerantzicha and the imposing monastery of the Virgin Mary, which is rather carefully preserved! Plus, the primordial aqueduct falls used to be in this area, too!
The neighborhood around Garitsa is where a group of archaeologists discovered traces and remnants of tombs, all belonging to the Archaic and Classical periods. These were believed to be an integral part of the nearby cemetery, with the most famous of all being the monument of Menecrates! In ancient times, the town's exclusive naval fleet found a safe haven in the port of Chelaios Bay, where one will spot two islets at its entry: the famous islet of Pontikonissi and an islet that hosts the church of Panagia Vlacherna.
Some distinct features of the church of Vlacherna are the plentiful ancient temple remnants and fragments, once built by the residents of Corinth and Evoia. Furthermore, we should also mention the magnificent temple of Hera, the temple of Diana and Kadaki, as well as the majestic temple of Dionysus, all of which are believed to date back to the 7th and 6th centuries BC. Also, the priceless vestiges housed in these temples are now showcased in the Archaeological Museum of Corfu.
The first relics on the site came into light during the period of British rule when a large section of the Doric temple of Kardaki was destroyed due to bad weather conditions. Afterward, archaeologists conducted extensive excavations between 1936 and 1955 and managed to bring to light the ancient Agora, as well as the Basilica of Saint Kerkyra! In more recent years, careful and precise excavation works have been carried out on this site since 1987 under renowned archaeologists and professors from world-renowned universities. These archaeologists (namely K. Prekas and Prof. T. Hackens) have been able to reveal the Roman baths, the harbor of King Alkinoos, and a large segment of the stone pavement of Agora!