Another item that you must add to your itinerary when you plan to visit Corfu is this beautiful villa, full of history…
At 10 km south of the capital of Corfu, there is Achilleion, the residence of the Austro-Hungarian princess Sisi, Franz Josef’s wife.
All her life, Sissy wanted to build a residence that was only hers and preferably as far away from Vienna as possible.
While staying in Corfu, in the house of the Greek heir to the throne Mon Repo, which I wrote about here, she was enchanted by the beauty of the island. She wanted that residence to be located right here.
This is how this villa was created, on the site of the house of the well-known Corfu resident Petros Vrailas, during 1889 to 1891. Sisi also bought the surrounding land all the way to the sea, in order to have access to the property by boat.
The palace, according to the instructions of the queen herself, was built in the style of Pompeii, and it was all executed by the Italian architect Raffaele Caritto.
The queen came to the villa twice a year, and staying here helped her recover from trauma and depression. The residence was named after the mythical hero Achilles, whom the Austro-Hungarian queen admired immensely.
Although she was fascinated by Greek mythology, Sisi had an ear for the common people and was known for her charities. At the foot of the village, Gastouri she ordered a well to be dug, in order to make everyday life easier for the women of the village.
The unfortunate queen did not enjoy this residence for long, as she was assassinated by an Italian anarchist while staying in Geneva. After her murder, the anarchist declared that he didn’t care who he killed. It was important to him that the victim was a member of the royal family. Unlucky Sissy was once again in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sissy was a very beautiful woman and a very skilled rider. She was constantly on a diet and never weighed more than 50 kg. Her narrow waist was her trademark. This statue at the entrance testifies to her impeccable waistline, which she obsessively maintained.
The palace was empty for a while, and then Achilleon was taken over by Kaiser Wihem II, whose taste was diametrically different from the previous owner. He removed many sculptures from the garden and added a new wing to the house.
The saddle-shaped chair belonged to the Kaiser. Namely, the Kaiser was quite short, so he used this chair, which could not be seen from the table, to improve the impression.
He also had a bridge built, which makes it easier to get to the beach and is called Kaiser’s bridge. It was built in the form of an arch above the road but was destroyed by the Wehrmacht in World War II. It was believed that the Kaiser made his war plans here.
During World War I, Serbian officers and wounded were housed here. Later, there was also a casino here. The movie For Your Eyes Only from the James Bond series was also filmed here. Today it is a museum, which was intensively renovated at the time of my visit.
You will be greeted by this sign at the gate. Since the palace was named after the mythical hero Achilles, according to the rules the place should be called Achileion. However, Ahilion or Achileon are also in use, which are not correct but are popular.
The ceiling is painted with a scene representing the four seasons.
There is also a beautifully painted gallery here, which leads to the upper floor.
The entire palace is decorated with statues, paintings and scenes from Greek mythology. Also, you can find numerous Greek philosophers, and even a statue of Shakespeare.
There is also a chapel, where the queen sought peace and comfort. In it, she had complete privacy on an Orthodox island.
A few things that belonged to the queen have been preserved in Achilleon. One of them is the watch from which she ordered the hands to be removed, so that it would not remind her of the passage of time.
Some objects from everyday life can also be seen.
The palace has two floors and if you move in a wheelchair you can reach the upper floor with a rather narrow and delicate elevator. It is not available to everyone, it is very hidden and you have to ask the employees to show it to you.
Everyone else to the top floor climbs this impressive staircase.
At the top of the stairs there is also a painting, which illustrates the triumph of Achilles over Hector.
The top floor also houses the queen’s private quarters. There are several rooms with richly decorated ceilings.
The most beautiful part of the palace is the garden. It covers 80 hectares. It changed its appearance according to the preferences and wishes of its owners, but it is still beautiful and luxurious.
It is full of interesting statues and ornamental plants.
People in wheelchairs cannot see the whole garden, but when you go up to the upper floor, from the balcony, you can see a part of the garden, which is not accessible for people in wheelchairs.
Stressful life in Vienna, full of rules and obligations, the queen treated in the garden with a beautiful view of the Gulf of Corfu.
The most famous statue in the garden is the dying Achilles, captured in the moment when he was shot in the heel by an arrow.
Kaiser moved her and replaced her with a 11.5m tall Achilles The Victor in a soldier’s pose. Thus, he depicted the expansionist plans of Germany much better at that time.
It was so tall that the tip of the spear could be seen from the Kaiser’s yacht.
Tickets and opening hours
Achilleion is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can buy tickets online, as well as on the spot. If you can, it is better to leave the visit for the midday hours, because then it is less crowded. The number of parking spaces is very limited, so if you arrive before noon, you may find yourself in a problem, because there are no designated spaces for the disabled. You can find more details on the official website here.
Achilleion is a beautiful building, which was declared a museum in 1980. A visit to the palace gives numerous visitors an insight into the life of the royal families. Although Achilleion has changed hands a few times, there aren’t many original items from Sisa’s time. This beautiful residence will always remind people of her and will always be known as Sisi’s Palace. Walking through these wonderful gardens gives you the opportunity to take unforgettable pictures and make wonderful memories. You will understand why Sissy loved this place. Although not ideally accessible for wheelchairs, everything important was to me.
Royalty knows how to choose.
Have you been to Achilleon?
Did I miss something?
Traveled and enjoyed,