Thursday, September 10, 2009


Corfu Island, unfortunately is best covered by car. The bus services either don't cover all the tiny little villages with secluded coves and beaches (immortalised by the Durrells) and ancient churches or are very infrequent. Thus my hopes of going in search of the Strawberry-Pink Villa, The Daffodil-Yellow villa or the Snow White villa were dashed.

We made a trip to Achilleio, a palace about 9 km from Corfu town, built at the end of the 19th century by the queen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Elisabeth, known also as Sissy, after whom the Sisi Palace is named. It's a typical palace of a minor royalty of Europe, with beautiful gardens, grand staircases and exquisitely painted ceilings, filled with kitsch inside and a profusion of statues outside. The most notable of these is a wonderfully realistic one of a mortally wounded Achilles trying to wrench the arrow out of his heel.

There is an interesting postscript to this history of the statue. When the German ruler William II, the second owner of the Achilleio took over, he was displeased at this effete image of a dying member of a true Aryan race. He ordered the statue to be removed to a less prominent location, and in its place erected an enormous bronze statue of a 'Triumphant Achilles' in full Teutonic glory, one that he felt was more appropriate as an image of the powerful German race. An inscription celebrating this sentiment was removed by the French during Word War I but the statue remains in its place.

The natural beauty of the island is everywhere, and even though I couldn't visit the places I really wanted to see, this place has a charm all its own.


AmOK said...

Thanks for sharing OLO. Your digital and lexical imagery is outstanding and so much more pleasing and superior when compared with some with other blogs with Narcissistic strings attached. Did you visit Narcissus as well as Achilles?

Rahul Basu said...

Fear not, OGA (Oh Great AmOK) - more coming up soon, at a blog near you...