Explore the villa in the forest of Paleopolis
There is no shortage of historical buildings in Corfu, but rarely do you find one removed from either political or physical use during war times. The predecessor of Achilleion Palace, the villa of Mon Repos was built in 1828 for the British Commissioner Frederick Adam, who gifted it to his Corfiot wife, Diamantina Palatino. The intimate dwelling is hidden within a park of the same name, its tree-enclosed and shore-facing design shrouding the property in private tranquility.
Indeed, Mon Repos Palace would subsequently be passed through a series of governors and royal ownership. Apart from a short stint as a school of fine arts in 1830s, this summer residence has since hosted Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the royal family of Greece under King George I, as well as Parini, the Italian governor of the Ionian Islands during World War II. As you can imagine, there was much argument concerning the ownership of Mon Repos between the Greek government and former royal family, until the European Court of Human Rights decreed it as a property of the Greek state. It was also the birthplace of Prince Philip in 1921, and Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark in 1965.
Royal presence aside, the grounds of Mon Repos is a key slice of heritage even before the palace was constructed. Believed to be situation directly on top of where the ancient city of Corfu once existed, Mon Repos now functions as an archaeological museum featuring artifacts from a nearby excavation site. Alongside the period exhibits in every room is a special exhibition of photographs that detail old Corfu.
The building itself is simple but elegant. Each room is painted its own colors, from light green to coral red to powder blues. Wall edgings, decorative frames and textured ceilings are white; sharpen your eyes by seeking out the etching along the borders. The elaborate, burnished red lamp posts outside the entrances are also remnants of its previously polished image. Of its classic features, the airy and high-ceiling foyer is perhaps must enrapturing.
Where the residence itself it small and time worn, the woodland park is immense and strewn with the ruins of the ancient city. Old, stone arches trail along walkways, leafy canopy extending out to provide shade. Massive trees line the property between wild shrubberies, and a dirt trail will take you along the coastal perimeter. Hunt down the various stonework and statues amid a pleasant stroll – access to Mon Repos park is free. There is a map of the park grounds upon entry.
There is a shuttle that runs between Paleopolis and Corfu town that comes by every 40 minutes, but you can easily make the distance on foot. There also isn’t much to commemorate Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, apart from a plaque at the front entrance – but you will find plenty of other historical references within the building itself. If you are looking to fill up an hour or two of your afternoon itinerary, Mon Repos is an interesting and convenient attraction to visit.