Corfu

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Is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and lies off the coast of the city Sarandë, Albania, from which it is separated by straits varying in breadth from 3 to 23 km (2 to 15 ml), including one near ancient Butrint. The principal town of the island is also named Corfu, or Kérkyra in Greek. Corfu is home to the Ionian University.

The island is steeped in history and perennially connected to the history of Greece from the beginning of Greek mythology. Its Greek name, Kerkyra or Korkyra, is connected to two powerful water symbols: Poseidon, god of the sea and Asopos, an important Greek mainland river. According to myth, Poseidon fell in love with the beautiful nymph Korkyra, daughter of Asopus and the river nymph Metope, abducted her, as was the custom among gods of the era’s myths. (Zeus himself was a serial offender). Poseidon brought her to the hitherto unnamed island, and, in marital bliss, offered her name to the place: Korkyra, which gradually evolved to Kerkyra (Doric). The island’s history is laden with battles and conquests.

The legacy of these struggles is visible in the form of castles punctuating strategic locations across the island. Two of these castles enclose its capital, which is the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. In 2007, the city’s old town was named on the UNESCO World Heritage List, following a recommendation by ICOMOS.

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