Timeless Penthouse

The Story Behind the Old Fortress of Corfu: A Journey Through Time

A Legacy Etched in Stone: The Old Fortress of Corfu, known to locals as Παλαιό Φρούριο and revered by Venetians as the Fortezza Vecchia, stands as a testament to the relentless march of time and the city’s enduring spirit. This Venetian marvel, perched on a strategic promontory, has witnessed the ebb and flow of empires, defending Corfu’s shores from numerous sieges.

Byzantine Beginnings: Before the Venetian reign, this peninsula, bordered by the Gulf of Kerkyra and Garitsa Bay, boasted Byzantine fortifications. The Venetians, with their renowned architectural prowess, reshaped these defenses, creating the Contrafossa. This sea channel transformed the citadel into an artificial island, showcasing Venetian defensive ingenuity.

The Citadel’s Peaks and Origins: The fortress’s twin peaks, each with its unique story, have been Corfu’s watchful guardians. While the western peak, Castel a Terra, got fortified by the Byzantines around the 12th century, the eastern one, Castel a Mare, served as an explosive powder magazine. Together, they gave the town its Western name, stemming from “Coryphe” in Greek.

The Venetian Era: The 15th century saw the Venetians overhauling the old Byzantine defenses, fortifying them against potential threats. Following the devastating Ottoman siege of 1537, Venetian engineers, Savorgnan and Martinengo, crafted formidable bastions that stand to this day.

Ottoman Sieges: The fortress valiantly thwarted three significant Ottoman sieges. From the intense battle of 1537 under Sultan Suleyman’s command to the sieges of 1571 and 1716, the citadel stood unyielding, protecting its inhabitants from the Ottoman onslaught.

Catastrophe of 1718: Tragedy struck when a lightning bolt ignited the powder magazine at Castel da Mare. The subsequent explosions decimated buildings inside the fortress and parts of the city. Despite the devastation, Corfu rose from the ashes, rebuilding and fortifying its defenses.

Guardians of the Citadel: The Venetian Senate carefully elected governors for both the old and new fortresses. To ensure loyalty and prevent potential treachery, the two captains were never to communicate during their tenure.

Turbulent Times: The 20th century brought new challenges. The Corfu Incident of 1923 saw the fortress bombarded by the Italian Air Force. World War II darkened its halls, as the Nazis used it as a prison for Corfu’s Jewish community before their tragic deportation.

Living in the “Brondel’s Timeless Penthouse” with a direct view of the Old Fortress in Corfu offers our guests a unique blend of history and modern comforts. From the terrace of our apartment, the fortress stands as a testament to Corfu’s rich past. Every morning, as our guests sip their coffee, they can marvel at the fortress and imagine the tales, battles, and narratives that it has witnessed.

Being just 15 minutes away by foot means that the fortress is not merely a sight to behold from a distance, but an accessible part of our guests’ experiences. They can easily take a stroll to its entrance, feel its ancient walls, and immerse themselves in its storied grounds. Upon their return to the “Timeless Penthouse”, they are greeted by the modern luxuries and conveniences that await them.

Photo by Ollie Craig

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