Corfu (Kerkyra) History
According to its mythology, the island of Corfu island was named after the nymph Kerkyra, daughter of Asopos, with whom Zeus fell in love and brought to this island. The fruit of their union was Feakas and so Corfu island was also known as the island of Feakes. It was here that Ulysses met the daughter of Alkinoos, Nausica, as described by Homer in the Odyssey. Nausica took Ulysses to the palace where she took care of him and afterwards gave him a ship to return to Ithaki. Legend claims that Neptune, furious, petrified the ship in the location where stands today the small, lovely island before the town of Palaiokastitsa, where Alkinoos's palace is said to have been. At Alkinoos's palace the Argonauts, persecuted by the king of Kolhida, Aietis, also sought refuge, in order to take back the Golden Fleece. Here the wedding of Jason, leader of the Argonautic Expedition, and Medea took place, thus concluding her abduction from Kolhida. In spite of the mythology, no archaeological excavations have proved that the island of the Feakes is Corfu island.
The island, whose ancient name was Corcyra, appears to have been inhabited since the Paleolothic period. In 734 B.C., it was colonized by the Corinthians who built the present-day Analipsi, the ancient town and its acropolis. Corfu island developed into an important commercial centre, acquired a powerful fleet, its own colonies and did not hesitate, within seventy years from its foundation, to revolt against Corinth itself and to acquire autonomy. But not only Corinth was interested in this island. The large rival towns of Athens and Sparta both had their eye on it. Thus, in 432 B.C., Corfu island became the cause for the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. After the victory of Sparta, Corfu island passed under the authority of the Spartans. This was followed by the Syracusian occupation, King Pyrhus of Epirus and the Illyrians, ending with Roman rule.
During the Byzantine period, the fortifications of the new town began with the walls of the Old Fortress (8th century) in an endeavor to confront the attacks of the island's enemies, particularly the Normans. During this period, the name Coryfo prevailed (from the acropolis perched on its peak) (Coryfo = peak, crest). From Coryfo came the Western Corfu island, which is what it has been called by foreigners ever since (Kerkyra in Greek, derived from the ancient Corcyra). In 1356 the Venetians took command and stayed until 1797. In the meantime, the Turks made their appearance starting in 1537 and unleashing their attacks from the coast of Epirus, to conquer the island, but without success.
In 1797, it was occupied by the French and ten years later by the Russo-Turkish fleet. This was followed by the Anglo-French struggle for the domination of the island. The French held the upper hand in the beginning and due to the resistance of Donzelot controlled the island from 1807 to 1815 when, along with the other Ionian Islands, Corfu island came under the domination of the Great Britain. The union of Corfu island and the other Ionian Islands with Greece finally took place in 1864.