Corfu of the ancient times

Greek statue of Poseidon

Greek statue of Poseidon ©sergis blog/Flick

Corfu has been linked to Greek history from the beginning of Greek mythology.

The history of the island is full of battles and conquests because of its position in a historical vortex. This lasted until the modern era, when Greece was united in 1864 and the history of the island became one with the history of the whole Greek continent.

We would like to present you the Corfu of the ancient times, telling the story of the island according to Greek mythology and shortly describing the prehistorical times and antiquity.

Corfu in Greek mythology

According to the ancient Greek mythology, Corfu is the island where Poseidon brought the beautiful nymph Korkyra, the daughter of god Asopus. Here Korkyra gave birth to Phaiax, from where the islanders took their name “Phaiakes” or Phoenicians in Latin.
In the Odyssey by Homer, Corfu is the island where Ulysses (Odysseus) meets Nausica, the daughter of King Alkinoos. Ulysses is taken to the palace and after he reveals his identity to the Phoenician king Alkinoos, is offered a ship to get back to Ithaca. But during his travel trip Poseidon, the god of the sea, transforms his boat into a rock.
Although the island is known all over the world as Corfu, the Greeks calls it Kerkyra, that was the name of the nymph who gave birth to the first inhabitants of the island, the Phoenicians.

Greek statue of Poseidon

Greek statue of Poseidon ©sergis blog/Flick


According to the archaeological discoveries in Gardiki, in the southern part of the island, Corfu has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. There is also evidence that the island was inhabited during the Mesolithic and Neolithic period, as in the north of the island (Sidari) was revealed an important Neolithic settlement.

Sidari, Corfu Island

Sidari, Corfu Island ©sonderzeichen/Flick

Greek Antiquity

The first Greeks arrived in Corfu were the eretriens of Evia, in the middle of the eighth century BC.

In 734 BC Corinthians arrived to the island and turned Corcyra (Corfu Town) in one of the most important and prosperous cities because of the trade that developed between all cities located along the Adriatic coast. Moreover, Corfu Town has developed a major colonial activity on the continent, often being in competition with Corinth. This competition between Corfu and the Corinthian metropolis was the reason of a series of conflicts between Corinth and Corfu of the ancient times.

Corfu Town

Corfu Town ©Gavin Gilmour/Flick

In 664 Corfu fought with the city of Corinth. Thucydides described it as the “first great battle in Greek history.” At the end of the seventh century BC began a period of extensive development after Periander, tyrant of Corinth, conquered the island.

During the Persian War in the fifth century, the island became an ally of Athens in 375 BC and Corfu joined the Athenian Confederation (second confederation of Greek city-states).

Later the island was taken over by other countries and became independent in 255 BC when the last king of Epirus, Alexander died.

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