Places to visit in South and Mid Corfu

 Corfu has been a notorious threshold between East and West, North and South,  since the Homeric times. This position, across the stern-looking Ceraunian mountains, in front of the ‘entrance’ to Adriatica right across the strait of Otranto, and across the open sea all the way to the Libyan shore, creates the unique setting for the island that is also reflected on the combination and balancing of opposing and contradictory elements in the form of the island itself. Visitors to the island can explore it, guided by the beauty of the landscape, or even following the mythological topology as it has been described by Homer and Appolonius Rhodius in the Odyssey and the Argonautica. This practice has been extremely popular  with European visitors during the previous 300 hundred years, and we can find many examples of this practice from the Grand Tourists of the 19th and 18th centuries, right to the Durrells of the 20th. In many of these texts, we can see a few recurring speculations; is the small island in front of the airport right outside of the lake Chalikiopoulos, where the ancient Ylaic Port used to be, the ship of Phaeacians that was turned into stone by the raging Poseidon in order to punish them for helping Ulysses, or is it a sea-rock in the North, right across Paleokastritsa, where the remnants of an old temple have been found? Or, did Ulysses see the daughter of King Alcinous, Nausica, for the first time where today’s Chrisida is, right outside of Corfu town?* Visitors today will see elements and relics from the ancient Greek and Roman past, to the Byzantine and Venetian times that are more visibly incorporated into the unique landscape and today’s way of life all over the island. The following recommendations will aim to take the visitor to the places of South and mid Corfu, (we would need at least two separate posts for Corfu town and North Corfu) that have been mostly untouched by the tourist development and to unique landscapes with mythological echoes that have been inspiring travelers for ages.

 

Chlomos, Kodrakas

Above Psaras, lies the mountain of Maltauna, and right next to it towards the South lies the mountain of Chlomos [1], which is also the last mountain on the South. Chlomos is a medieval village that was particularly important during the Byzantine and Venetian times. Rumor has it that the church of the Taxiarchs was built where a temple of Apollo was in the ancient times, and is indeed one of the most spectacular spots to see a watch a sunrise, that gives credibility to this rumor; the sun coming behind the since this is the last mountain of the South, one can see the whole island stretching out to the South,  with an unspoiled view. The Ceraunian mountains across the East, on the mainland of Greece and Albania that surround the coastline, every morning are like the gates where the sun comes through. From Chlomos, you can even see all the way  to the West and North where the sun sets to the sea, next to the Korission lake and the mountain of Small Pantokrator. Visitors from Thalassa Garden can take the steep road to Chlomos that passes through the olive groves and forest [1a], or can walk up there through the tiny village of Spileon [1b], a longer but easier walk through the old village that has a lot of interesting lore related to its name as the ‘Cave’ (Spileon).  Right under the village of Chlomos lies the colorful shady beach of Kodrakas [2], a beautiful pebbly beach under a forest of myrtles, a place really worth visiting on kayak or boat, and with its amazing colors of sea it is one of the best places for snorkeling. 

 

Petriti, Notos, Alykes (salt-lands) of Lefkimi, Arkoudilas

From Psaras, further to the South East, there are the fishing villages of Petriti,[3] and Notos [4], and at the far-end of the East South, the salt-lands of Lefkimi [5]. Petriti is a fishing port just a short drive away from Psaras. There, the visitor can buy fresh fish straight from the fishing boats, or to enjoy the freshest fish in one of the fish taverns, which are among the most genuine of the island. A short drive through the swirly roads that go through the countryside, until the village of Notos, where someone can find a pleasant beach to swim and a few interesting tavernas. Further down South, the Salt-lands are a unique ecotope where the lucky visitor can find delight in the view of passerines birds, like flamingos and herons.

 

 Small Pantokrator, Lake Korission

From Psaras, in the opposite direction, further up to the West and North, lies the mountain of the small Pantokrator [6], or as it was called in ancient times the mountain of Melite, the ancient Nymph that was inhabiting it according to the ancient Greek lore. The myth has it that it was there that Hercules, moaning about the killing of his own children*, first met Melite, and from their union, she gave birth to Ylleas, the mythical progenitor of Ancient Illyrians. The lore has it that Melite took Hercules to her hideaway to the lake, where is today the lake Korission [7].  To add more to the magic atmosphere of the area, on the roots of the mountain on the side facing west, near the Byzantine fortress of Gardiki [8], there is the paleolithic cave of Grava [9], that was inhabited since Corfu was still a peninsula attached to the mainland. This place – according to the mythological tradition of the Argonautica – was the place where Medea and Jason spent their first night of wedding on the golden fleece. A place mentioned in the same myth as the cave of Makri, the daughter of Aristeus, the ancient hero that discovered first the use of olive oil and of honey. On the mountain, there is the lively village of Agios Matthaios [10] that dates from the Byzantine times, where the visitor can still enjoy a stroll through the labyrinthine narrow streets, or enjoy a refreshment, like a  local ginger-beer, on the ‘Foros’ street, the main market street where most of coffee-shops, restaurants and markets are, a local hangout. Those who love hiking can walk up to the top of the mountain, where the monastery of the Metamorphosis is. There, the visitor can enjoy the unrestricted views to the West and South from the observatories on the mountain. They can enjoy the refreshing shades of the forest, and even visit the local caves, the ‘trypa tou pelagou’,  or the ‘hole of the sea’  as the cave is named by the locals, because it is allegedly connected with the sea. 

 

 Chalikounas, Issos, Prasoudi, Agios Nicholaos

Around the mountain there are a handful of bays and beaches that are sure to amaze visitors; the long sandy beach of Chalikounas [11], Issos [12], the two of which are connected with a beautiful lush cedar forest, the picturesque beach of Prasoudi [13] with its sandy beach and Prasoudopetra, the monolith extruding from the sea like a sculpture made by the weather and the sea, or the breath-taking natural swimming-pool of Agios Nicholaos [14]. Issos is the most crowded beach of all, but it is worth visiting the petrified sand dunes. It is easily accessible from Thalassa Garden if you go on the main road to Cavos and then follow the road there. Chalikounas is less crowded, although it has also become a very popular place for beach bars, organised beaches, etc. To get there, you must find the Fortress of Gardiki and then take the road to the left. Taking the road to the right, would take you to the North. You can find on the way a few calm beaches with some exceptionally good tavernas, like in Prasoudi, amazon driving parts through shady tunnels shaped by the olives, and also the natural swimming pool of Agios Nicholaos. I have noticed that Agios Nicholaos beach is somewhat easier to find from the South, from the Fortress of Gardiki.

 

Pentati, Pelekas, Synarades, Kynopiastes

Further up to the mountains of the North-West, lies the picturesque mountain village of Pentati [15], one of the few villages of Corfu still untouched by tourism. This village has one of the most breathtaking sunsets on the whole island, and amazing architecture that resembles a bee-hive, and its eagle-nest like position on the mountain in order to avoid the attacks from the pirates. The village of Pelekas [16], further North West, is where you can catch a breathtaking sunset from the Kaiser’s Watchtower. The contrast in the architectural styles between the two almost neighboring villages, Pentati and Pelekas is noteworthy. The villages Synarades and Kynopiastes are also interesting for  visitors that would want to explore the Corfiot architecture and village life.

 

 ———————————————————–

List of places that are mentioned in the above guide

 

* The petrified ship of the Phaecians is today’s Mouse island, right in front of the Lake Halikiopoulou, where today’s airport is, and Ulysses allegedly met Nausica a little further out of the city of Corfu, where today’s Chrisiida area is. The visitor will most probably pass by the two spots while driving to or from Corfu town and Thalassa Garden. The painting at trhe header of the article depicts Nausica right before meeting Ulysses (by Lucien Joseph Simon, 1915).

 Route from Corfu to Thalassa Garden

 

[1] Chlomos

[1a] The route from Thalassa Garden to Chlomos

[1b]  The route from Thalassa Garden to Chlomos through Spileon village 

[2], Kodrakas beach   (watch out, on Google maps it is misplaced as ‘Stephbeach’)

[3] Petritis

Info on Petritis 

[4] Notos  

[5] Alikes Lefkimis, and the Center of Environmental Education

The Facebook page of of the Center for Environmental Education 

[6] Small Pantokrator 

Mount Small Pantokrator 

[7] Korision Lagoon

Wiki page of Korision Lagoon

[8] Fortress of Gardiki,  you can ask there at the cafe-taverna for the way to the Grava cave

Gardiki location

 

[9]  Cave of Grava

https://www.speleocorfu.com/cave-grava-gardiki/

[10] Agios Mathaios   

https://www.greekboston.com/travel/agios-matheos-corfu/

[11] Chalikounas beach

[12] Issos beach  

https://greece.terrabook.com/corfu/page/issos/

[13] Prasoudi 

https://www.greeka.com/ionian/corfu/beaches/prasoudi/

[14] Agios Nicholas natural pool 

 This amazing natural pool is a bit difficult to get to. I advise that you try to locate it driving around the small Pantokrator mountain from the South, taking the road on the right at the Gardiki fortress. From there, after a couple of km, at the junction to Prasoudi beach, the visitor should keep on the main road, through the tunell of olive groves. About 1,5 km after the tunnel, on the left, there’s a half finished  house made of red brick, that the visitors should use as a landmark. From there there is a path that will take them about 200 m downhill, on a very steep slope. The natural pool is definitelly worthy of the hike. 

[15] Pentati

https://www.pentati.com/

[16 ] Pelekas  

http://www.pelekas.com/

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>