Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest island of the Ionian Islands. According to Strabo, Corcyra was the Homeric island of Scheria and its earliest inhabitants were the Phaeacians. The island has indeed been identified by some scholars with Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians described in Homer's Odyssey, though conclusive and irrefutable evidence for this theory or for Ithaca's location have not been found. At a date no doubt before the foundation of Syracuse, Corfu was peopled by settlers from Corinth, probably 730 BC, but it appears to have previously received a stream of emigrants from Eretria. The commercially advantageous location of Corcyra on the way between Greece and Magna Grecia, and its fertile lowlands in the southern section of the island favoured its growth and, influenced perhaps by the presence of non-Corinthian settlers, its people, quite contrary to the usual practice of Corinthian colonies, maintained an independent and even hostile attitude towards the mother city.
The ancient city of Corfu (Paleopoli) evolved in the archaic years between two natural harbours, the one of Alkinoos and the Ellaiko (Chalkiopoulos lake). The archaeological sites are scattered all over the peninsula of Kanoni, now a suburb of the modern city. Archeological excavations brought to light sacred groves,relics of temples, houses, workshops, baths, a public market, shipyards, works of art, every day and worship objects.
In Paleopoli there is the temple of Artemis Gorgo is one of the earliest Doric temples made completely out of stone and has seventeen pillars on each long side and six on each short one. The Temple has a well-preserved, huge altar (in situ) and was built in 590-580 B.C. from porous limestone. The spectacular representation on the relief pediment of the west side is at the Archaeological Museum, since the “pediment of Gorgo” is the oldest stone pediment found in Greece. The Temple was discovered in 1822 A.D. by the British Officer Whitmore, under the supervision of the German archaeologist Dorpfeld.
At the east of Paleopolis there is the Mon Repos estate. There is a late Archaic (around 500 B.C.) Doric temple with eleven one-stone pillars on each long side and six on each short one. The temple is dedicated to an unidentified deity. Moreover, there is the sanctuary of Hera Acraia. Only the foundations of the Heraion are preserved. It should be mentioned that the Mon Repos estate is a neoclassical building at the east of Paleopolis and was built by the British Commissioner Sir Frederick Adams in 1830. It was latterly used by the former royal family as a summer residence and it was the birth place for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Mon Repos estate is not an ancient monument but is located within the area of ancient Corfu and in addition now houses the museum of Paleopolis.
In Paleopoli one of the towers of the fortification of the ancient city (5th-4th century B.C.) is preserved. It was later incorporated into the Church of Virgin Mary of Neratzicha. Parts of the town fortification from the 5th century B.C. have also been discovered in the “Ellaiko” harbour.
In Chalkiopoulos lake there are parts of the port facilities at the “ Ellaiko” harbour of the ancient city as well as at the harbor of Alkinoos (7th-1st century B.C.), which was used as a place to keep ships in winter.
In Paleopoli one can see one of the towers of the fortification of the port of the ancient city, known as "Port of Alkinoos." It was discovered in the foundations of the church of Ag. Athanasios, built in the 18th century. The Corfu Archaeological museum is located in Garitsa near the seaside boulevard in the street of Armeni Braila. Built in the 60s under the standards followed then for buildings intended to be Museums and started its operation at September of 1967. It is the larger of Corfu museums, a two floor building with a courtyard garden and a balcony at the south and east side of the first floor. The vast bulk of the exhibits are located on the first floor which comprises by four rooms and a hallway. The largest western hall along with other artefacts from ancient temples of Palaiopolis is the pediment of the Temple of Artemis in 580 B.C. with gigantic dimensions, 17 meters width and 3 meters height and its central theme is the mythical monstrous Gorgon.
Major exhibits are the archaic funerary lion of Menekratis (late 7th century bc) found in the circular cenotaph of Menekratis, the left side of an archaic pediment (the pediment of Dionysus 500 BC) with dimensions of 2.73 meters long and about 1 meter in height that was found in Figareto and depicts of a Dionysiac banquet scene, the bronze statuette of a young “komastos” (570 BC) who runs and on his left hand holds a “rhyton”, the head of a kouros of 6th century b.c which was found in excavations of Paleopolis in Mon Repos, a clay statuette of Artemis (490 BC) found in Kanoni, the kouros of Corfu (530 BC) from Parian marble headstone and the Arniada (630-600 BC) found in the ancient cemetery near Garitsa. In the museum there are finds of Palaeolithic and Early Bronze Age as well as recent articles of the Hellenistic and Roman period.
The home of our National poet Dionisios Solomos in the third end of Arseniou street at Mouragia has been turned into a museum. It is the place where the Poet lived for 30 years and inspired his poems. It presents furniture, personal items, photographs and historical material from his life.
In Benitses there is the Corfu shell museum with one of Europe’s largest collection of shells and other marine species. This museum is unique not only because it is one of the few of its kind in Greece but also because the rich collection consists of very rare and beautiful marine species, some of which claim Guinness awards due to their rarity and beauty. Created by the diver and collector Napoleon Sagias, who enriched the museum with rare findings collected during his 20 years travelling in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, diving and collecting shells.
The Folklore museum in Acharavi is housed in two rooms of a building situated just opposite the ancient Roman baths in the seaside village of Acharavi in centre northern Corfu. In the museum there is an interesting collection of folklore items mainly from the region of northern Corfu, objects mainly household as furniture, a loom, a traditional mill for kitchen utensils and agricultural tools of past centuries, a watermill, church supplies and other items showing the historical evolution of Corfu since then.