This historic village of Ano (Old) Perithia, situated in the North East corner of the island just below Mount Pantokrator, is the oldest permanently inhabited settlement in Corfu, dating back to the 14th century. There are only 130 houses, built entirely by hand, some of which have now fallen into ruins. The village with its cobbled streets and ancient houses is encircled by eight churches and set amidst beautiful countryside. Distinctive and picturesque, Old Perithia is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty and is a protected heritage site.
This famous village was probably first settled in the unsettled Byzantine era (pre-Venetian), when frequent pirate raids drove the population away from the comfortable coast to a harsher life in the mountains. Most of the houses currently standing (most in ruins) date from the 16th-18th centuries.
The village is set in a great bowl under the shadow of Mount Pantokrator's cone-shaped summit and in keeping with their wild setting, the buildings - away from the more sheltered centre - are built on no more than two levels and have small, widely spaced windows to protect the inhabitants from the extreme (for Corfu) weather. It snows most years in Old Perithia.
In its heyday, the settlement grew rich from sheep and goat farming, with the surplus produce - mainly meat and cheese - going to market over mountain footpaths which can still be traced, down to little harbours on the North East Coast and then on board caiques to Town. The wealth created by the trade is still evident in the substantial nature of many of the houses, and in the richness of details such as elegantly carved stonework and fluted columns. Prosperity also enabled every clan to found its own church, and the village has nine.
‘Suspended in time’ Old Perithia continues to be an enchanting discovery for visitors from all over the world. So whether you want to enjoy a great day out, step back in time, walk in the mountains or just relax in one of the four Taverna’s and sample some locally sourced and home cooked food, visit Old Perithia and you'll discover why it continues to hold a special place in the hearts of visitors and Corfiots alike.
More information at old-perithia.com