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29 Feb, 2024

With the arrival of March, let's take a walk in a dream environment, in one of the most famous royal mansions, which, yes, is located in Greece, on the island of Corfu.

The reason for the famous Achilles, where Achilleion is located in the mountainous settlement of Gastouri, 10 km from the city of Corfu. The famous mansion was designed by the Italian architects Raffaele Caritto and Antonio Landi, initially supervised by the Austrian consul in Corfu, Alexander Varsderg, and after his death by Baron Von Bukowitz.

Inside there are beautiful frescoes and decorations by important artists of the time of its construction, while on the second floor there is an Ionic peristyle. Clusters of green gardens are growing around the building with views to the North and to the South. The walls are covered in brightly colored bougainvillea and palm trees rise everywhere, while the view is dreamy.

This summer palace was built in 1890 in a ceremonial style and the expenses were borne exclusively by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known to all as Sissy. Her health was burdened and the climate of Corfu was the best possible for her.

Elizabeth adored our ancient hero, Achilles, like everything Greek, driven by the teachings of her Greek teacher Constantinos Christomanos, so she dedicated the mansion to him (hence the name Achilles), decorating the wonderful gardens with statues, inspired by Greek mythology.

The most famous are the "nine muses" (some created by the Italian sculptor Domenico Morani and some bought by the Villa Borghese), and the famous statue of Achilles, at the fateful moment when he receives in his mortal heel the deadly arrow of Paris (Achilles deceased), the work of the German sculptor Ernst Herter.


Elizabeth was a romantic by nature, therefore melancholic. The wonderful landscape, the openness of the sea, the wonderful "corners" of the green garden, the fragrances of the flowers, were not able to cure the disease of her soul. Therefore, her choice to create this particular statue of the hero she admired is not so surprising. Not one that shows its beauty and bravery, but in the hour of agony, just before the call of death.

Some argue that the Empress chose this statue after the tragic suicide of her son, Archduke Rudolf, at Mayerling. of Rodolfo and Catherine Deneuve in the role of young Vecera). And what you may be unaware of is that Maria Vetsera's mother, Eleni, was Greek, the daughter of Baltatzis - one of the most financially powerful families in Istanbul.


On the contrary, when after Elizabeth's death in 1898 the mansion passed into the ownership of the German emperor William II, known as the Kaiser, also a lover of ancient Greek culture, he took care of the creation and placement of a huge statue of Achilles (15m. height), which bore the inscription "to the maximum of the Greeks from the maximum of the Germans".


The island was occupied by French and Serbian troops during A΄Π.P. and the Achilleion was turned into a French and Serbian headquarters and hospital. Everything that reminded him of the Kaiser was destroyed or disappeared.

After the end of the war, the palace was transferred to the Greek State and many objects were sold. The arrival of B΄PP.P. he again turned it into a headquarters and hospital for the conquerors, while it suffered serious looting.

Much later it functioned as a casino and as an attraction to this day.






photo https://atcorfu.com  

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