Old Venetian Fortress
The "old fort" was the primary defence fortification for Corfu town in Byzantine and Venetian periods until it was supplemented by the "New Fortress" (constructed 1576-1645) together with encircling walls and interlinking tunnel networks.
It was originally designed to defend Corfu Town which was centred on the promontory and had previous Byzantine defences which the Venetians replaced with far stronger battlements and crucially an artificial moat the "Contrafossa" which you now cross to reach the fort from the open area of the Spianada.
Within the fort are the "twin peaks" that gave Corfu its' name "Coryphe" from the Greek.
It survived sieges by the Ottomans in 1537, 1571 and together with the new fortress in 1716. Whilst this protected Corfu town the rest of Corfu island was over run by the Ottomans who killed or enslaved up to 20,000 corfiots in the 1537 invasion.
The old fortress also played a central role in the deportation of Corfu Town's Jewish population when the Germans replaced the Italians during WWII and required Jews to report at the Old Fort where they were incarcerated before being shipped by train to Birkenau. Of 1800 deported only 120 ever returned.
Whilst it was during the Venetian occupation that the fortress was constructed and ayt the time housed residential properties for the military, political elite and aristocrats what you now see are from the British period including the church and the barracks. It is visited by many thousands of visitors each year and as a venue is used for concerts and exhibitions; particularly in the summer months and is home to part of the Ionian Academy.
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