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some practical information for visiting Corfù

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History of Corfù


People have been visiting and settling on Corfu for thousands of years. The Roman Emperor Tiberius had a villa in Kassiópi, and Emperor Nero visited the town too.
Sidári appears on the surface to be a modern holiday resort, but Neolithic hunter-gatherers were known to have been living here in 7000 BC. Even further back than that, in about 40,000 BC, Palaeolithic people were living in the area around Gardiki Castle, the oldest known remains on the island.
The first known invasion was by the Corinthians in 734 BC, but they were defeated by the Corfiot people in what was the first recorded sea battle in Greek waters, in 644 BC. They were followed by Spartans in 375 BC and then by Romans who stayed for almost 600 years.
It was invaded also by Goths, Vandals, Normans and then by the King of Naples and in 1386 the Venetians took over. It is the Corfiots’ proud boast that they were the only part of Greece not to be conquered by the Turkish armies, though the Turks are just about the only nation not to have conquered Corfu at some stage.
In 1797 the French took the island, and then in 1814 it was the turn of the British, whose rule lasted 50 years. Finally, in 1864, Corfu gained its independence and became a part of the modern Greek state. There was a brief invasion by the Italians in 1923, and again in 1941 when they controlled the island for three years alongside German forces. Since then the island has enjoyed mainly peace and prosperity, with tourists as welcome guests. A million of them arrive each year between Easter and the end of October, when the season is in full swing. There is also a sizeable overseas community, mainly British and Germans, who live on the island all year around.
It seems unbelievable but no one knows for sure where the English name, Corfu, or the Greek name for the island, Kerkyra, actually come from. Corfu probably derives from a Greek word, korifai, which refers to the two rocky hills on which the Old Fortress was built in the 6th century. Kerkyra is a complete mystery, though. The Greek word kerkos means “handle”, thought to refer to the island’s shape. Legend also has it that a nymph named either Kerkyra, or Korkyra, was brought to the island by the sea god Poseidon, and her name was given to the island.