Corfu Greece - Museums

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Corfu Museums.
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The Archeological Museum

The entire ancient finds of the island, mostly of the archaic period, are kept in the New Museum overlooking the Bay of Garitsa. The most impressive exhibit is the west pediment of the Doric Temple of Artemis dating from 590-580 B.C.; it is one of the largest surviving sculptural groups of its kind in Greece and dominates the main hall. Other interesting exhibits include the sixth century funerary capital of Xemvares, in the anteroom, which bears an Archaic Corinthian inscription. Also worthy of note in the anteroom is the ‘boustrophedon’ inscription, forming an epigram in Homeric hexameters and dating from the early sixth century B.C., on a vertical stele. In the North room are also exhibited two small archaic masterpieces. One of these is the head of a Kouros by a Corinthian sculptor; it dates from about 535-530 B.C. The other exhibit, a sixth century bronze statuette. In the courtyard behind the Museum stands gigantic Doric capital resting on a column drum, from the temple of Artemis.

The Museum of Asian Art

A rich and highly interesting collection of objects d’art, mostly Chinese and Japanese, is on display on the first floor of the Palace of St. Michael and St. George. This collection was presented to the Greek Government in 1928 and consists of 10.000 items. The collection includes some beautiful bronze wares of the Chou (1027-256 B.C.) and Han (206 B.C.- 220 A.D.) dynasties. The classical period of Chinese art is represented by a great variety of porcelain of Sung (960-1276), Ming (1368-1644) and Ch’ing (1644-1912) dynasties. The Japanese collection contains much more porcelain ware, wooden masks of the “No” theatre, suits of Samurai armor, Utamaro wood-cuts, beautiful eighteenth century silk and rice paper Kakemonos, and books illustrated with prints. The collection has been recently enriched by a donation, comprising four hundred and fifty interesting items from Japan, India, Nepal, Tibet, Thailand and Korea.

 The Byzantine Museum of Corfu ‘Antivouniotissa’

 This museum is one of the most significant in Greece. It is housed in the Church of the Blessed Virgin Antivouniotissa where a wide flight of steps leads up from Arseniu Street. The church has been entrusted to the Greek state by the owners, along with its numerous icons, frescoes and paintings (whose authors and titles we mention in the part Fine Arts of this web site) and rich collection of silver, which carried out extensive restoration and redecoration in preparation for the New Museum. The church is a single-nave basilica surrounded by a narthex on three sides, which constitutes a unique feature of Church architecture in Corfu. Several silver lamps hang from the ceiling, which is divided into richly decorated caissons.


 Remains of a District of the Ancient City of Corcyra

 Vestiges of houses and parts of two streets, belonging to several periods between the fourth and the first century B.C., were recently excavated between Mon Repos and Kanoni. This area is believed to have been a residential district near the Hyllaic harbor. Potsherds, household and other implements, terracotta statuettes, bone fragments etc. were also found.

 Remains of the City Walls

 To the west of the Greek Orthodox cemetery at Garitsa stands the only remaining part of the ancient wall of Corcyra, dating from the fifth century B.C. and consisting of a tower and the wall ran.

The Roman Thermal Baths at Palaeopolis

 A few yards from Basilica of Palaeopolis, in the grounds of the nearby Olive-Growing Institute were found extensive ruins of Roman baths. These were built around 200 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Septimus Severus, and were destroyed in the sixth century. The remains of the hypocaust and heating chamber can be clearly seen.

 The Temple of Artemis

 A Doric temple dedicated to Artemis stood near the remains of the ancient walls, on low-lying ground, near the present shores of the lagoon of Chalikiopoulos, on the northern edge of the ancient city. It was a huge pseudodipteral temple with seventeen columns and it was built between the years 590 and 580 B.C. by Corinthian masons. The only contemporary relic on the site is rectangular altar decorated with archaic triglyphs, fairly well preserved.

 The Temple of Hera Akraia

 It is to be found on a height in the park of Mon Repos. It was built on sloping ground, on the hill, and was the largest and most important temple of the ancient city, having been built in the late seventh century.  The architectural and sculptural remains of this temple, especially terracotta decorative elements of the roof, are now exhibited in the Archeological Museum of Corfu.

 The Temple of Apollo the Corcyraean

 On the same height at Mon Repos, close to the above mentioned sanctuary of Hera Akraia, lay a small open-air shrine dedicated to Apollo the Corcyraean, the founder of god of Corcyra. It was built about the end of the sixth century B.C. It has been identified by a number of inscriptions and one engraved on a votive offering in the shape of a spearhead.

 The Temple of Kardaki

 This temple, probably dedicated to Poseidon, was built around 500 B.C. and it is to be found in the park of Mon Repos. The remains include a few monolithic Doric columns and part of stylobate and entablature.  The most noteworthy find is a small statue of the Goddess Kyveli as well as a quantity of pottery.

 Site of a Small Shrine of Artemis

 It is on the southern tip of the Kanoni peninsula, opposite the lagoon of Chalikiopoulo. Excavations carried out in 1889 brought to light a deposit which contained a large number of clay figurines, many of which represent Artemis and are believed to be offerings to the goddess. Some of them are exhibited in Archeological Museum.

 The Monument to Menekrates

 The archaic circular cenotaph was discovered in 1843 and it stands in the garden of the former Police Station in Cyprus Street at Garitsa. It was built of beautifully worked hard limestone and consists of five rows of blocks; the upper part ends in kind of flattened dome, which belong to a later period. It is believed that this monument was built around 600 B.C. A number of clay and bronze vessels were found. A few of the numerous ancient vessels are now in the British Museum.

 The Ancient City of Cassiope

 It is a few yards south of the Church of the Virgin Kassopitra in the village of Kassiopi. These are believed to be the remains of public buildings in the center of the ancient city. Potsherds found shows that the remains probably date from the first century B.C. to the fifth century A.D.

 The Doric Temple

 In the extreme north of the island, near the small village of Roda, the ruins of a Doric temple, perhaps dedicated to Apollo, of which only few remains of the foundations and the altar may still be seen. The temple dates from the fifth century B.C.

 The Roman Baths at Benitses

 In the village of Benitses on the east coast of the island are the ruins of baths belonging to a Roman villa dating back to the late second century A.D. The baths conform to the usual Roman plan, with tepidarium, a caldarium and a frigidarium.

 Bibliography: STAMATOPOULOS, N.: Old Corfu, History and Culture,
K. Mihalas s.a., Athens, 1993

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