The Achilleion Palace, a Must-see Attraction In Corfu

After visiting the historic center of Corfu, admiring its Venetian-style buildings and lovely alleys, all you need to do is leaving everything behind to take a road in the middle of nature. Once you get to the top of a green hill, an imposing white building surrounded by classical statues and columns will stand out before you. On the gate you will be able to spot a golden lettering: “Achilleion”.

Discover more about this unique attraction in Corfu and plan your fantastic visit!

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Actually, this is not a palace like the others. Here, the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, better known as Sissi, spent her holidays and took a wonderful refuge to escape the strict rules of the Viennese court. In Corfu, she had found the ideal place to relax taking a break from the stressful Austrian life and she decided to purchase a villa with a wonderful view of the Gulf of Corfu. The villa was then demolished to make way for an imposing Pompeian-style building built by the Italian architect called Raffaele Caritto.

There had to be statues, columns and frescoes in order to recreate the atmosphere of Ancient Greece, which was so loved by the empress. The decoration of the palace was entirely conceived by Sissi herself, who decided to embellish the gardens with lawns, avenues and fountains. To guarantee her privacy, the property covered an area of 80 hectares and also had a secret access from the sea. It was completed in 1891 and named “Achilleion” in honor of the Homeric hero Achilles. In fact, the garden presents a statue made by Gustav Herter depicting Achilles dying in the act of removing the arrow from his heel. However, one of the most characteristic elements is the peristyle of the Muses, which is an Ionic-style portico decorated with the statues of the nine Muses and the three Graces.

In 1898, Sissi was killed and the palace passed into the hands of her daughter. She soon sold it to Kaiser William II, a great lover of ancient Greece. He replaced the dying Achilles statue with another one showing the hero in a victorious pose, which better suited to the German expansionist spirit of the time.
Over the years, the building has had many vicissitudes: during the First World War, it was a military hospital, while during the Second War it became a Nazi headquarter. Between the sixties and seventies it was a casino: did you know that some scenes of the James Bond film “Just for your eyes” were filmed here?

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Since the 1980s, the Achilleion has became a wonderful museum to visit in Corfu. Visitors can enter the palace, walk in its gardens and admire the luxury rooms that still present the furniture chosen by Sissi and William II. The Achilleion is a splendid building where the Royal Austrian Family has left some valuable personal objects and a visit is always incredibly interesting. Also, the beautiful garden with its portico and marble statues is a perfect place to take photos!