Paleopolis in Corfu

Corfu Paleopolis: The ancient Agora of the city of Corfu is believed to have been located at Palaeopolis. Archaeologists believe that numerous public edifices of great architectural significance were built within close proximity to Palaeopolis along with numerous sanctuaries, highly evolved workshops, residences of wealthy merchants and consuls. There was also the harbor of Alkinoos where shipping vessels from far away countries used to lay anchor.

The ancient city of Corfu became known when the impregnable Venetian fortress at San Salvadore was being demolished back in 1843. This particular area was referred to as the Palaeopolis in the local dialect, which means the ancient town. The Palaeopolis was created as a result of the endeavor of the Corinthians. It is believed to date back from the 8th century BC. The fortification which dates back to the 4th century BC and encircles the city from three sides is also of particular significance.

The manner in which the fortification was built is a testimony of the high degree of craftsmanship in this part of the world. The port of Alkinoos was in the north, the Lagoon of Chalkiopoulos in the west and the Mon Repos in the east. The strategic positioning of the fortification must have been designed by highly skilled architects.

The marketplace was believed to be located at the northern side of the present bay of Garitsa. The Acropolis was located where the Analipsi stands today. The fortification had just a solitary tower which was strategically located right in the entry of the port of Alkinoos. However, today there stands the church of Agios Athanasios. Not far from the cemetery, one can see the tower of Neratzha which is in close proximity. Furthermore, there is the church of the Virgin Mary which is rather carefully preserved. The primeval aqueduct falls also used to be in this particular area.

The neighborhood around Garitsa is where a group of archaeologists have discovered vestiges of tombs belonging to the Archaic and Classical periods and was believed to be an integral part of the cemetery that is found nearby. The most famous of all is the monument of Menekratis. In the ancient times, the town's exclusive naval fleet found a safe haven in the port located at the bay of Chelaios. There are two islets at the entry of the bay: the church of Vlaherna is situated on the one, while the other islet, right next to the church, is named Pontikonissi.

A characteristic feature of the church is that there are vestiges and remnants of ancient temples which were built by the residents of Corinth and Evoia. At this point, we should mention the magnificent temple of Hera, the temple of Diana and Kadaki and also the temple of Dionysus, all of which are believed to date back to 7th and 6th century BC. The priceless vestiges belonging to these temples are showcased in the neighborhood of Archaeological Museum.

The first relics on the site came into light during the period of the British Protectorate, when a section of the Doric temple at Kardaki was destroyed due to bad weather. 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. Nowadays, methodical excavation works have been carried out here since1987 under the renowned archaeologist K. Preka, in collaboration with Prof. T. Hackens from Louvain University. These archaeologists have been able to reveal the Roman baths, the harbor of King Alkinoos and a large segment of the stone pavement in the Agora.

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