Old Fortress of Corfu

Corfu, Greece

The Old Venetian Fortress of Corfu covers the promontory which initially contained the old town of Corfu that had emerged during Byzantine times.

Before the Venetian era the promontory, which lies between the Gulf of Kerkyra to the north and Garitsa Bay to the south, was defended by Byzantine fortifications which the Venetians largely replaced with fortifications of their own design. As part of their defensive plans the Venetians separated the promontory from the rest of the city of Corfu by creating the Contrafossa, a moat which is a sea channel connecting the Gulf of Kerkyra to the North with the Bay of Garitsa to the South, converting the citadel into an artificial island.

The fort successfully repulsed all three major Ottoman sieges: the great siege of 1537, the siege of 1571 and the second great siege of Corfu in 1716.

In 1718 lightning struck the powder magazine at Castel da Mare causing an explosion which created a chain reaction during which three secondary ammunition facilities also exploded, this in turn destroying most buildings inside the castle including the palace of the Captain General of the fortress, and many city buildings. Commander of the fortress and hundreds of others died in the explosion.

The fortress houses today the Public library of Corfu which is located in the old British barracks. The fortress grounds are also used for various types of art and culture exhibits. The Hellenic Music Research Lab of the Ionian University is also located at the Old Fortress.



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Corfu, Greece
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Founded: 15th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Greece


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rade Rajicevic (7 months ago)
Fortress is really impressive talking about size, but the way it’s built as well regarding the one and only bridge through which you can get inside it and the canal which is separating the fortress from the mainland. Nicely organized, everything is marked. View from the top of the fortress is magnificent and it’s really worth it going all the way up, just be careful to organize your return from the top areas of the fortress before 8PM when they close the gates which leads to the top. There is also St. George church which is beautiful talking about exterior appearance of the building. All in all, fortress is really a must see.
Sergiu Che (8 months ago)
Lovely view of Corfu, a bit of walking going up but shade from trees from time to time available. The stairs at the end are in stone and very slippery, be careful and use the handrail as well. Get a bottle of water before going up. 6€ per person the entry, latest entry to go up at 19:30. After 19:30 you can enter to visit the lower part only, with the church and enjoy the nice sunset colors.
Cristina Gheorghe (9 months ago)
The views from the top of the fortress are absolutely stunning. Although it is a bit of a climb to get there (it can take 20-30 minutes), there are many places where you can rest and have a bit of shade. Best to avoid going between 13-16 PM as it can be very hot up there.
Chris Locke (10 months ago)
Only a short stroll from where our bus dropped us. Cost only a few euros each to go in. Interesting multi cultural history to the fortress with stunning views. Especially if u can make it to the top. Cafe & toilets inside
Emily Robinson (10 months ago)
Quite a lovely place to spend a quite afternoon. The ticketing staff at the entrance was rude but I appreciated the service of the others. It’s lovely during the sunset where one can see the colours of the sky from this high point. The entrance is free before the official operating hours - 8am and post 8pm or depending on the seasons without the entrance to the tower and the church.
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Château de Foix

The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.

In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.

The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.

From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.

As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).

Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.

Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.