Πέμπτη, 19 Μαΐου 2011

The island Corfu

Corfu (Kerkyra) is an island in the Northern Ionian Sea, situated in the entry of the Adriatic sea and near the coasts of the Continent. The coasts in the north-eastern part of the island also approach Albania. The beaches have a total length of 217 km forming many bays and capes. It has a mountainous terrain mainly in the northern part, with its highest peak being Pantokratoras (914 m).

Administratively the island belongs to the Region of Ionian Islands. The prefecture of Kerkyra includes the islands of Kerkyra, Paxon, Antipaxon and Diapontia islands (Othonoi, Ereikousa, Mathraki). The total population of the prefecture is 107.879 residents, according to the census taken by the GREEK NATIONAL STATISTICAL ORGANISATION in 2001.

The capital of the island, the city of Kerkyra, constitutes the administrative, economic, commercial and cultural centre of the island and today it has a population of 25.000 residents, according to the census taken by the GREEK NATIONAL STATISTICAL ORGANISATION in 2001, of which 7.000 roughly live in the limits of the Old City. The employment of population is concentrated in the tertiary sector, in the service sector, in the trade and tourism.

The municipality of Kerkyra includes the urban districts: the Analipsi, the Canoni (Pontikonisi), the Figareto, the Stratia, the Goubia, the Kontokali, the Kyra Chrysikou, the Potamos, the Temploni as well as the islands Bido and Lazareto.

The Old City of Kerkyra is a monumental ensemble, unique for Greece. However, the city is also full of life, with operations that are also part of the permanent population and not only addressed for tourists. From 2007, the Old City of Kerkyra, with the Old and New Fortress, is found in the international list of the World Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, as a separate architectural and monumental ensemble that represents an important historical period. The old city of Kerkyra became the 17th Greek monument which can be found in the list of the world heritage of UNESCO.

History

After the partition of the Byzantine state from the Franks of the 4th Crusade in the year 1204 until 1214, Corfu (Kerkyra) was in the power of the Venetians for the first time. A period of fifty years of annexation followed in Despotato of Epirus and in 1386 it passed again in the power of the Venetians with her will because of the weakness of the Byzantine state to protect it. With the fall of the Venetian democracy in 1797, Kerkyra as well as the remainder of Eptanisa (Ionian Islands) were occupied by the French republicans and after two years by the Russian and Turks. In 1800 an agreement was signed between the Russians and the Turks for an independent state, the Eptanisa (Ionian Islands) State that lasted seven years. In 1807 Eptanisa (Ionian Islands) passed again into the possession of the French emperors for other seven years and afterwards to the English until1864 - the last possession before the union with Greece. 





Literature and Culture
One of the first Academies that were established in Corfu was the ”Academy
of Exisfalismenon” in 1656,
followed by the “Academy of Gonimon” and the “Academy of Periplanomenon”,
all of which had introduced important personalities, artists and scholars. During the second
French occupation, the first public schools
were established, following the spirit of French revolution. The establishment of the
eminent Ionian Academy
was an important milestone in the intellectual development of the island. It started in 
1824 and it was the earliest
institution of Higher Education in Greece. For a period of time the poet Andreas Kalvos
taught in it.
The Eptanesian School (movement), one of the most important “schools” of Modern Greek 
literature, is dated back to the end of the 18th century and continued up to the beginning of the
20th century. The characteristic feature of this school was the perseverance in the perfection 
of creation. Dionysios Solomos was the central person in this creative era. The arrival of the poet,
from the island of Zakynthos to Corfu in 1828, meant the beginning of a period full of artistic creation. 
Around him developed a large literary circle, which had been influenced by Solomos. These people
formed the Corfu school. The main representatives of this school were Iakobos Polylas, 
Gerasimos Markoras, Ioannis Kalosgouros, Nikos Kogevinas, Lorentzos Mavilis and 
Konstantinos Theotokis. One of the characteristics of this poetic school, at that time, 
was the exclusive use of argo language. The Italian poetry had an intense influence on them. They also had a 
strong nationalistic perspective.

In 1836 the “Literature Club” was established, which is the oldest intellectual institution

of modern Greece. It was later renamed as Anagnostiki Eteria Ellados. Members
among others were Dionysios Solomos, Lorentzos Mavilis, Nikolaos Mantzaros and
Ntinos Theotokis. The rare collections of its library are considered to be of priceless value.

Another important intellectual institution is the Eteria Kerkiraikon Spoudon (Corfu Studies

Company), which was founded in 1952 and it is located in the Museum of Solomos. 
The objective of this organization is the promotion of the intellectual life of the island through
various activities. 

Local flavours and products

The Venetian occupation of about 412 years has influenced the cuisine of Corfu, which is
revealed from the way of cooking of most foods and from the origin of the names 
of the foods. Also, some particularities of the local cuisine are owed to the English people,
despite theircoexistence with Corfu people for a short period of time.


Generally speaking the cuisine Of Corfu is mainly Mediterranean, having olive oil as
a base, along with legumes, pastas, vegetables, fish and a lot of spices. The most frequent 
way of cooking is in a saucepan, which is used more for cooking than in the rest of the 
country. Another way of cooking and maintaining fish and vegetables consists of vinegar, 
salt, oil, rosemary and caper, which is known as ‘savoura’.


The most popular dishes of Corfu are:
Pastizzada: the village version is cooked with rooster while the one from the 
city is cooked with veal. This dish is cooked in a saucepan with thick tomato sauce,
garlic, onion, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cumin, bay leaves, pepper and a little vinegar. 
It is served with thick spaghetti and is the most popular dish in Corfu.


Bordeto: boiled fish, usually scorpion or dogfish, with red-hot sauce and juice of lemon.


Soffrito: thin stripes of fried veal with white sauce from garlic, white wine and parsley.


The English brought to the island ginger beer, a foamy refreshment that is drank
frozen, made from lemon, ginger, grapes, water and sugar, which was particularly
loved by Corfu people. Today it is one of the characteristic flavours of the island.


The most popular however product of Corfu, which is not produced elsewhere in Greece, 
is “kam kwat” (kumquat). It resembles a small orange, is eaten with the skin and its flavour
is bittersweet. It originates from the East (Kam Kwat in Chinese means golden fruit). 
It reached Corfu by the English Merlin, in 1924. After it was adapted to the conditions
of the island, Corfu people loved it, and began a systematic production. Ideal place 
for cultivation was proved to be the plain of Nymphs in northern Corfu. The Agro-industrial 
Cooperation of Nymphs is responsible for the collection, processing, standardisation and 
distribution of the product. The products start from the known liqueur, jelly and extend to 
traditional sweets (eaten with a spoon) and marmalade. In the framework of regulations 
of European Community on the protection of products, Kam Kwat is declared as “a quality 
product with protected geographic origin”.


Other characteristic sweets of Corfu are Mantoles (baked sweetened almonds)
and Mantolata (Nougats - pastries from sesame cream, egg whites, honey, and whole almonds).


The vineyards of the island are not big but the wines that are produced are of excellent 
quality. The basic varieties of wines are kakotrygis (white wine with delicate flavour),
moschato (white wine with intense flavour) and petrokoritho (red dry wine).


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