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The best places to visit Corfu island
Find the best places to visit Corfu island, Greece.
Achilleion Palace Corfu
The Achilleion Palace can be found in the Village of Gastouri, 10 km southwest of Corfu town Following the national road Corfu – Achilleion and turning left at Ponti, the twisting road ascends through the olive groves to the village of Agios Deka (10 Saints), and finally arriving in the village of Gastouri, passing the traditional houses with their attractive flower fill gardens. The stunning appearance of this stately palace takes the visitor back in history to when the palace was inhabited by two great figures from European history whose only common bond was their adoration for Corfu, Greece and its culture, Empress Elisabeth of Austria (known as ‘Sissi‘) and Kaiser William II of Germany.
Empress Elisabeth built the palace to escape the tragedies of her life, and William II purchased it after her untimely death. William II, however, never had a chance to enjoy the palace’s beauty because of a war that broke out, from his own doing. During the First and Second World War the palace was abandoned and inevitably pillaged by the enemy. After years of rebuilding and restoration, the palace was finally restored to its former beauty.
Empress Elisabeth, a mythological figure, who was renowned for her beauty, intellect, and her liberal attitude, gained great popularity from the historical film ‘Sissi’, in which the famous German actress – Romy Schneider performed as the Empress.
Elizabeth was born in 1837 in the house of Possenhofen, Bavaria, Germany. Before Elisabeth turned sixteen, following a short affair, married Frans-Joseph I of the Hapsburg Dynasty. Because of the many issues that troubled her, Elisabeth was driven to leave the royal court numerous times and travel to other places as a means of release. In some of these trips Elisabeth visited Corfu, where she resided for three months, captivated by Corfu’s landscapes. Elisabeth returned often to her beloved Corfu, and to other parts of Greece where she was educated in the Greek language and culture by many teachers, one of them being Constantine Christomas, who was rumored to have had a platonic relationship with the Empress.
Between the years 1867 and 1889, Elisabeth was tormented by many tragic and unpleasant events that occurred during that time. Events, such as the untimely demise of her son, prince to the crown, Prince Rudolf shocked the Empress’s world, and drove her away from Vienna, in search of refuge at Corfu, where she dealt with her sorrows. At Gastouri, she began rebuilding her
palace which was completed at 1891. The Empress herself decorated the inner and exterior parts of the palace with pieces of art from Greek mythology and history. The name Achilleion was given to the palace because of her unique passion towards the central hero in the mythological story, the Iliad and the Trojan War. Unworthy of such a tormented life, Empress Elisabeth was murdered on a trip to Switzerland in the year 1898. After her unfortunate death, the palace of Achilleion remained uninhabited for 9 years.