The monastery of the Holy Theotokos, also known as Paleokastritsa Monastery, is one of the oldest in Corfu, dating to 1225. The reasons for visiting this monastery are two-fold. Set on the top of the cape, the views from the monastery are stunningly dramatic and indescribably beautiful. Perhaps the most visited of the island’s religious sites, due to its amazing position, it is also steeped in history.
It is built on the western side of the central bay of Paleokastritsa. Access to the monastery is by way of a steep, narrow road there starts from the main beach and winds its way through lush, green groves of tall cypress and olive trees. Pedestrians and vehicles share the road, so caution should be taken. Please note that there is a traffic light, which should not be ignored, as the road is one-way traffic only.
The main section, that of the Church, dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, and the monk’s cells were added in the 18th Century. Inside the monastery is a courtyard with a portico and a modern building which houses a small museum of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, books, souvenirs and memorabilia. For those interested in anthropology, there is also the very impressive, massive skeleton of a whale, which is said to have been killed by a fisherman in the 19th century.
On the lower level are the old olive press and shops with local products on sale namely wine, kumquat preserve, Kumquat liqueur, jams and Limoncello (lemon liqueur).
Dress code is expected to be modest; woman’s shoulders and bare legs to be covered. Skirts and shawls are provided at the entrance to the monastery for those inappropriately attired. Please note that there is the monastic code of silence which is also to be respected.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.