The Achilleion of Corfu.
One of the first visits that every visitor to Corfu makes is to the legendary home of the renowned sad Empress Sissi, the Achilleion of Corfu.
Achilleion Palace is one of the most famous sights of Corfu and Greece in general. It was built in the Corfu countryside by the Empress of Austro-Hungary Elizabeth, also known as Empress Sissy. It is undoubtedly one of the better known landmarks of the island, located in the village of Gastouri, ten kilometers southwest of Corfu town in the midst of nature. The palace looks like something from a fairy tale, the imperial opulence and the natural beauty of the landscape conspire to create a truly magical image.
The common element between Empress Sissi and Kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm II
The imposing form of the Palace takes the visitor back to another era, when Achilleion was the preferred destination of two figures of European history, the common element between them their adoration of Corfu, Greece and its culture: The Empress Sissy and the Kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm II. Sissy built Achilleion as a place to retreat and to ease her suffering, at the loss of her son. The Kaiser bought it after her death, but the war, which he himself declared, prevented him from enjoying it.
Sissi and the Achilleion of Corfu
Empress Elizabeth’s acquaintance with Corfu began in 1861 when she visited the island for the first time. She stayed for a long period and developed a special love for Corfu. At the same time, Sissy loved Greek mythology and culture. Wishing to immerse herself in classical Greece, she hired teachers who taught her Greek mythology and history as well as Greek literature, prose and poetry. Her favorite teacher was Constantine Christomanos, a student at the University of Vienna, who caused her to literally adore Greece.
The palace is influenced by the Greek and Roman Ionic style but also has elements of Pompeian architecture. Sissy wished to create an oasis around her with heroes drawn from the Odyssey and the Iliad. The frescoes, the paintings and the decoration in general are influenced by Greek Mythology and the history of Ancient Greece.
Sissy named the new building “Achilleion” in honour of the ancient Greek hero Achilles, whom she greatly admired. Inside Achilleion, magnificent frescoes and paintings adorn the reception areas.
After the assassination of Empress Sissy, Achilleion passed into the hands of her daughter Maria Valeria, who never lived there. It remained closed for nine years, but during all that time, by order of Francis Joseph, it was kept in perfect condition in memory of Sissy, whom he loved so much.
Sissy spent half the year in Corfu, mostly in the spring and autumn months. She indulged in long walks and mingled with the locals, supporting them in every way and even financing the village’s aqueduct, as the area had a serious water supply problem. A plaque was erected in her honour, which still stands today.
In 1907 the Achilleion was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II.
During the First and Second World War, the Palace was occupied, used for other purposes and unfortunately looted.
Achilleion, the place you must visit in Corfu
After years of reconstruction and renovation, the Palace has regained its former glory.
Today, the imposing façade of the building captivates visitors from the first glance. Both the interior and the gardens take visitors back to the time when princes and princesses waltzed in the imposing halls with their distinguished guests. And even to the time when they read romantic poems in the vast gardens and when the princely children expressed their love to the chosen one of their hearts amid the colours of the glorious sunset.
The beautiful gardens of Achilleion offer stunning views of the Halikiopoulo Lagoon, Kanoni and Mouse Island.
The magical image relaxes the senses and creates the fairytale atmosphere that everyone dreams of on this visit.
Achilleion is one of the foremost architectural masterpieces of the island and a must for every visitor to Corfu.
Nostalgia Apartments, are located just 15’ drive from Achillion, via the Corfu Achilleion National Road.