Guided tour of Achilleion Palace in Corfu, Greece – A great palace with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, the sea and Kerkyra.
One of the first sights I decided to visit in Corfu was the Achilleion Palace. It is known primarily because it belonged to the Austrian Empress Elisabeth (Sissi), who built it to find peace here. Let me first tell you how I got there. There are different options. You can buy a tour, you can rent a car or a motorcycle. But I chose the cheapest way, especially since I don’t drive. I found out how to get there from the hotel Corfu Senses Resort 3*, where I stayed, and took a shuttle bus running around the island. From the hotel it took 15 minutes to the village Gasturi. There was a sign like this.
Then I had to walk uphill for about 3 km. I took photos of the beautiful scenery on the way and was waiting for the palace to appear. I visited a villa that I thought was a palace, so I made a photo shoot, but then I realized that I was wrong).
And then, at last, the road brought me to the desired object, which was impossible to confuse with something else. On the left is the cafe, and on the right the first buildings had already appeared.
Before entering the palace I bought a ticket for 8 euros at the ticket office. I did not take the audio guide. To tell the truth, I did not find out whether it is in Russian. So, a little history. The future mistress of the palace was born in 1837. Her childhood was spent in a castle near Munich. Young Sissi (as Elisabeth was called at home) became the first beauty of Europe, married for love to Archduke Franz Joseph and became the empress of the Austrian Empire. She was not attracted by secular duties. She spent a lot of time on her appearance, exercised, rode horseback, and devised her own diet. The couple had three children, two daughters and a son, but the first daughter Sophia died at the age of two and son Rudolph in 1889. Elisabeth quarreled with her court, her mother-in-law, and went on a trip to the Mediterranean. This is all purely schematic. Elizabeth’s life and tragic fate are worthy of a separate story. I will not write here about her death. You can read about it on the Internet, in books; watch the film. Let’s walk around the palace and look inside. The mansion, all surrounded by greenery, we will see as soon as we enter the gate. The following pictures are taken as we walk to and around the building.
The climate of Corfu on her first visit had a beneficial effect on the empress’s health, and on her return she immersed herself in the study of Greek philosophy and culture, and learned the Greek language. Cissy named her palace Achilleion, after the Homeric hero. Elizabeth loved Greek history and admired Greek mythology and so she decorated her mansion with sculptures and paintings on mythological subjects. Here are some of the sculptures.
On the second floor balcony you see a marble Centaur, and on the third floor balcony you see nymphs. If you go back to the photos of the facade, you will notice that there are 2 Centaurs and 4 nymphs.
At the entrance to the palace there is also a sculpture of the hostess herself.
Inside the palace, a beautiful staircase, also decorated with bronze sculptures, catches the eye immediately. And the ceiling is “propped up” by marble statues.
The staircase of the third floor is decorated with a large painting “The Triumph of Achilles”.
On the ceiling of the central hall is a fresco “The Four Seasons”.
The central hall at the entrance, view to the right and left.
The museum’s overall exhibit includes furnishings, personal items left by former owners. After Sissy’s death the Achilleion was inherited by her younger daughter Maria-Valerie and remained closed for ten years. In 1907 the palace was taken over by Emperor Wilhelm II (Kaiser) of Germany. After the emigration of the Kaiser to Holland the palace was again left without an owner. Let’s walk through the halls and see the exhibit.
On the left is a portrait of Sissi.
From the second floor you can go into the courtyard. Here we are greeted by the Gallery of the Muses with Ionic columns and marble statues of Greek Muses and gods, with busts of Greek thinkers and poets.
From the gallery we gradually pass into the palace gardens.
In the center of the palace gardens is the sculpture “Dying Achilles”.
At the end of the path we see the sculpture “Achilles Victorious” erected by William II. It is 11.5 meters high.
From the terrace you have a beautiful view of the city of Corfu and the surrounding area. And of course on the sea.
At the end of the walk we walk around the palace from the other side.
During the First and Second World Wars the island was occupied and the Achilleion was a hospital. Many of the valuable items were then looted and lost. The palace fell into disrepair over time, and then there was a casino. In 1983, the palace was opened to the public.
Achilleon Palace (Greek: Αχίλλειο or Αχίλλειον) is a landmark on the island of Kerkyra in northern Greece. In some sources the palace may also be called Achillion, and the island also has an Italian name, Corfu, which is more popular than the official one. Nowadays this majestic building serves as a museum and was formerly the residence of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. For travelers, a visit to the Achilleion is a great opportunity to learn about the Duchess of Bavaria and get into the spirit of Greek mythology. The art objects here illuminate the life story of Achilles, the hero of the poem The Iliad.
The construction of the palace in Greece began in 1890 by order of Empress Elisabeth. She chose the island of Corfu because she loved Greek culture and climate. In Achilleion the empress recovered her health and admired the Ionian Sea.
The palace was designed by the Italian architect Raphael Caritto. Achilleon is made in neoclassic style. Together with the adjacent garden it occupies an area of 200 thousand square meters.
The main sculptor of the palace sculptures was Ernst Herter from Germany. On the creation of paintings and artistic paintings by Franz von Mach and Vincenzo Galloppi. Eighteen million francs were spent on the creation of the Achilleion.
Elisabeth of Bavaria did not own the palace for long. In 1907, after her death, the estate was purchased by the Emperor of Germany – Wilhelm II. The emperor appointed the Achilleion as a summer residence, and the Kaiser held diplomatic meetings there. He also left his mark on the decoration of the palace. At Wilhelm’s invitation, the sculptor Johannes Goetz created a martial bronze statue of Achilles in armor. The figure of the hero adorns the garden and faces the city.
The Achilleion Palace fell into disrepair after the outbreak of World War I. Its halls were used as a hospital for French and Serbian troops. In the 1920s, the building became an orphanage. At the same time, auctions for the sale of palace valuables were held here.
In 1962, a private company organized a casino in the Achilleon, and the first floor of the building was devoted to the museum. Only in 1983 the palace passed into the possession of the Greek Tourist Organization. It gained its official museum status after 2003.
The Achilleion collection consists of many works of art, interior elements and household items of famous personalities who lived in the mansion.
Already in the entrance hall of the palace, guests notice the painted ceilings, elegant vases and Doric columns. One of Achilleion’s masterpieces is right on the stairwell. It is the famous “Triumph of Achilles” fresco by Franz von Mach. It depicts a triumphant Achilles riding in a chariot with a bound Hector past the walls of Troy.
Panorama of Achilleion’s interiors – Google Maps
The palace’s chambers contain antique furniture and jewelry from the 19th and 20th centuries. Also behind the railings are paintings, mirrors, preserved documents and letters from Elisabeth of Bavaria and Wilhelm II. The rooms have access to balconies where sculptures of the Greek Muses are lined up. Busts of philosophers and majestic figures of gods are also found in the palace. For example, on the main marble staircase Hera and Zeus stand proudly, welcoming the guests of Achilleion.
After a tour of the palace and its exhibits, be sure to check out the Elisabeth Chapel or take a stroll through the garden. Here grow beautiful magnolias, neat palms, cypresses and ornamental shrubs. Sculptural groups are nestled among the green kingdom.
Panorama of Achilleion Garden – Google Maps
The most popular statue is considered “Achilles the Dying”. The character of the epic poem is depicted at the moment of his death by the arrow of Paris. The hero’s muscular body is tense and his face is distorted by suffering. Another, life-affirming statue is at the end of the park. Achilles stands in armor with a spear and looks out over the city at the foot of the hill. From here you have a picturesque view of the island and the waters of the Ionian Sea.
Ticket prices for Achilleion Palace in Corfu
During the tourist season, the Achilleion is open daily and receives guests from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. The mansion is most crowded during the day – there are many tour groups, but in the morning or evening there is an opportunity to see the attraction in silence.
At the Achilleon, every tourist will be able to spend time according to their preferences:
- On a group tour;
- With audioguide (available in Russian).
A full ticket with an audioguide costs 10€.
How to get there
The most comfortable way to get from Russia to Greece is by plane. In Moscow, Aegean Airlines and Aeroflot companies organize flights to Athens and Corfu. Austrian Airlines (connection in Vienna), AlItalia (connection in Rome) and other companies also offer flights to Athens from Moscow.
There are also flights from Athens to Kerkyra. Because of the distance between the villages, the best way to get to Kerkyra is by air. There are also bus services. From Athens bus station 3 times a day (at 7:00 am, 11:00 am and 9:00 pm) there are GreenBuses buses. In Igoumenitsa the bus docks on the ferry, the trip to Kerkyra takes 8-9 hours.
You can reach the northern island from the Greek capital by car. Take highway E65 to the port of Igoumenitsa. Buy ferry tickets in advance and go to Corfu. From the port of Corfu Harbour take road number 25 to the palace itself. The trip takes 20 minutes. You can also take a cab in Corfu, of the famous taxi companies are, for example, Gett and Kiwitaxi.
The route from Corfu Harbour to Achilleion Palace by car – Google Maps
The island has an established public transportation system. You can get to Achilleion Palace with bus #10, which leaves from San Rocco square that is in 5 minutes walking from the harbor. Get off at the terminal. To get to Achilleion from Kerkyra airport, take a bus stop near Super Market Lidl, it takes 15 minutes walk.