Achilleion Palace, Gastouri, Corfu
Located in the village of Gastouri the legendary palace nestles on top of the hillside behind the coastal resort of Perama approximately 10km from Corfu town.
It is an outstanding piece of architecture which is visited by thousands every summer.
It dates back to 1890 and was built by Empress Elizabeth of Austria (more commonly knows as Cissy). Her love of the island prompted her to create this haven to escape from the difficulties in her life. The palace was designed in Pompeian style by Raffaele Caritto a renowned architect of his era and famous German sculptor, Ernst Herter was commissioned to create statues from Greek Mythology. The most impressive statue has to be the huge monument of Achilles which takes pride of place in the centre of the Achilleion Gardens and is from which the Palace takes its name.
After her untimely death the palace was purchased from her heirs by Kaizer Wilhelm II but due to war breaking out, he never really got to make it his place of residence. He did, however, make various additions including building a bridge over the main coastal road, allowing him direct access with his carriage via the palace gardens to his boat. This area is still known to this day as Kaizer Bridge and although the top of the bridge had to be removed to allow the tanks to pass during the World War II, a large part of it is still in tact.
During the First World War the palace served as a military hospital to the French and Serbian troops (you can still visit the graveyards) but at the end of the war in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles, it became the property of the Greek State. In between the two wars it was mainly used to house various government offices and sadly during this time many of the artifacts were sold.
During World War II it became Military Headquarters and eventually emerged as property of the Hellenic Tourist Organization.
It took many years of dedicated hard work to restore it to its former glory, and is most definitely worth a visit during your stay in Corfu.