Corfu Museums and Art Galleries

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Corfu Museums and Art Galleries

Achilleon Palace, Gastouri
(26610 56245; open 9am-6pm daily.)

This magnificent building is near the beautiful village of Gastouri. It was built between the years 1890 and 1892 by the Empress Elizabeth of Austria (known as Sissy) after one of her visits to Corfu. The large building, in neoclassical style, has three floors adorned with many statues and paintings. The vast gardens surrounding the building, with a wonderful view of a large part of the island, run down to the coast road. They are decorated with many statues, the most famous of which are the two bronze runners, the dying Achilles (the mythological Greek hero) and the statue of Achilles Triumphant. After the assassination of Empress Elizabeth in 1898 in Geneva, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany purchased the palace in 1907 and used it as a place for relaxation. All of the rooms contain personal items of the former owners and their original furniture.

Archaeological Museum, Corfu Town
(26610 30680; open 8.30am-3pm Tues-Sun.)

In the Garitsa quarter, a pleasant 15 minute walk from the Old Town, this museum displays some of the archaeological finds unearthed on the island. Pride of place goes to the fabulous Gorgon Pediment, a 5th Century BC carving which once adorned the Temple of Artemis at Kanoni. This is one of the best preserved Archaic sculptures in Greece. The 56 foot long frieze depicts the snake-haired gorgon, Medusa, flanked by giant lion-like figures and her children, Chrysaor, and (almost invisible) Pegasus, the flying horse. Other important exhibits include three funerary monuments from the cemetery of the ancient town of Corfu dating from the 6th century BC. One of the most beautiful exhibits in the museum is the archaic lion which was found near Menecrates' tomb and which dates from the 7th century BC. There are also finds from the temple of Hera and the temple of Apollo which were found on the Mon Repos estate. There is also a large collection of Corcyran coins.

Museum of Asiatic Art, Corfu Town
(26610 30433; open 8.30am-3pm Tues-Sun.)

This museum, unique in Greece, is housed in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George. It contains a collection of thousands of pieces dating from the Neolithic Age to the 19th century. The major part of the museum's exhibits come from the private collection of the Greek diplomat Grigorios Manos, consisting of 10,000 pieces which he donated to the Greek state in 1928. As well as artefacts from China and Japan there are interesting items from Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, Tibet and Korea. Of special interest is the unique Helleno-Buddhist collection with sculptures from Gandhara in Pakistan dating from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD showing the Hellenistic influence on Buddhism in the region and beyond.

Byzantine Museum, Corfu Town
(26610 38313; open 8.30am-3pm Tues-Sun.)

The Byzantine Museum of Corfu is one of the most significant in Greece. It is housed in the Church of The Blessed Virgin Antivouniotissa which is situated on Arseniou Street in Corfu Town. Here are exhibited early Christian sculptures, parts of Byzantine frescoes from the 11th, 13th and 18th centuries and a collection of icons from the 16th to 18th centuries by famous artists including Tzafouri, Michael Damaskenos, Emmanuel Lombardos, Emmanuel Tzanes, and Victor and Michael Avramis.

The Folkloric Museum of Central Corfu, Sinarades
(26610 54962; open 9.30am-2pm Tues-Sun.)

The museum was established by the Historical and Folkloric Society of Corfu in 1982. It is housed in a traditional building in the village of Sinarades, 12 km west of Corfu town. The whole museum is a reproduction of a middle-class village home of the 19th century. On the ground-floor is a huge room housing old tools and household effects. The first floor consists of the kitchen, sitting-room and bedroom with their original decoration and furnishings. On the second floor visitors will find a study with books and a collection of old documents that have been donated to the museum. On the same floor there are various Corfiot holiday costumes and musical instruments, farming tools, a cobbler's workbench, ceramics, fishing equipment, a children's corner with a shadow puppet show and various tools.

Mon Repos and Palaeopolis, Corfu Town
(26610 30680; open 8.30am-3pm Tues-Sun.)

The Palace of Mon Repos, surrounded by extensive gardens, was built under British rule and later used by Greece's King George as a summer villa. It is the birthplace of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.The Mon Repos Museum contains a large variety of exhibits including archaeological finds, Byzantine remains, furniture and dresses from the period of British rule, paintings and other mementoes of Corfu's history. Close by are the excavated remains of Palaeopolis, the ancient city of Corfu. The first antiquities on the site were discovered during the British Protectorate. Excavations carried out between 1936-1955 brought to light sections of the ancient Agora and the early Christian basilica. Recent excavations revealed the Roman baths, the dockyards of the harbour of Alkinoos and a large section of the stone pavement in the Agora.

The Olive Museum, Kinopiastes
Located in the traditional village of Kinopiastes, only 20 minutes drive from Corfu Town. This recently opened museum, the best of its kind in Corfu, displays a well-maintained traditional olive press as well as authentic items of village life in Corfu.

The Solomos Museum, Corfu Town
Based in the house where Greece's national poet, Dionysios Solomos lived for most of his life (1798-1857), the memorabilia includes the poet's desk, a collection of the poet's manuscripts, photographic material and an extensive library. Here you can find the entire collection of old published copies of the Greek National Anthem - the 'Hymn of Liberty' - as well as portraits on display of the poet himself, along with other members of the 'Solomos School'.

The Museum of Capodistrias, Evropoulis
(Open 10.30am-2pm Tues-Sun.)

The personal belongings and furniture of Ioannis Capodistrias, one of the most important politicians and diplomats in modern Greek history, who served as the first Governor of Greece from 1830 to 1831, are housed in the family residence at Evropoulis. A highly educated man, he played a decisive role in the victory of the revolution and made serious contributions to many fields including education, justice, social welfare and agriculture.

The Numismatic Museum, Corfu Town
Opened in 1981 by the Ionian Bank (now Alpha Bank) and located in St. Spiridon Square in Corfu Town, it is the only museum of its kind in Greece and is famous for the value of its collection. Its comprehensive collection of banknotes dates from the founding of the modern nation to the present day and also includes printing dyes, proofs, bank documents, stamps and a rare collection of notes from all over the world. The second floor has a very clear, informative and extensive exhibition showing the process by which modern banknotes are designed and produced, including the paper-making process.

The Mantzaros Music Museum, Corfu Town
(Open 9.30-13.30 Monday-Saturday.)

This museum is the first of its kind in Greece and honours Nikolaos Mantzaros who composed the Greek National Anthem and the Anthem of the Olympic Games. The museum shows the history of the Philarmonic Society of Corfu, founded in 1840, of which Mantzaros was the first director. Exhibits include old musical instruments, photographs, scores and rare early recordings. The museum is housed in Corfu Town on the first floor of the building of the Philarmonic Society at 10, Nikiforos Theotokis.

Corfu Costume Museum, Pelekas
(69325 15421; open 10.00-14.00 Monday-Saturday.)

Located just outside the hilltop village of Pelekas, this wonderful private collection of costumes dates back to the 19th century. Originating from both Corfu and the rest of Greece, the collection has been amassed over many years by the museum's curator and is housed in her family home. It is a fascinating portrayal of the many different styles of costume worn in mainland Greece and its islands and provides a unique opportunity to appreciate the work and artistry that went into their manufacture. As well as costumes, there is a small section dedicated to Corfu's musical heritage. The museum also has a website which can be viewed here.

Acharavi Folklore Museum
(26630 63052; open 10.00-19.00 Monday-Saturday.)
Located just opposite the ancvient Roman baths in Acharavi, the museum houses an interesting collection of objects from north Corfu. They are diplayed in two rooms and include old photos, books and manuscripts dating from 1862, coins from the period of the Ionian State (1799-1864), furniture, a loom, a traditional olive press, kitchen utensils, agricultural tools, a watermill, ecclesiastical items and other exhibits that chart the historical course of Corfu from the 18th century till today.

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