Born and raised in Corfu Town myself, one of my favorite places is Liston. As most of Corfu Island residents, I as well have enjoyed, and still enjoying at any chance given, beautiful walks at Liston, which is point of reference for both tourists and natives. Just a few meters away from the North part of Spianda square, Liston is there waiting for us to walk by, drink a coffe, admire it’s architectural line which in a majestic way combines harmonically 3 different cultures. The Venetian, the French and the British.
Liston is a wide and straight pedestrian street, just like its name reveals, according to one of the most prevalent accepted versions of the story about how Liston was named. Nobody knows the real and precise story because it is missed through the timeline of its existence but I am going to mention the two that are the most prevalent today, or if you prefer, the two most prevalent in my mind and by my own criteria. Lots of people claim that the name “Liston” comes from the Venetian word “lista”, which used to mean exactly what I mentioned before, “a wide and straight pedestrian street”.
On the other hand many supporters have the theory that the name arises from the fact that before Corfu was united with Greece (on 21 of May 1864) and titles of nobility were still active in Corfiot society, a List containing all the names of the families that owned them was placed at the beginning of Liston. Among the privileges for the members of the List was that they were allowed to enjoy their walk at Liston while common people, who did not belong on this list, did not even have the right to pass by Liston.
Well, the pure truth will never be learned since there are not any official documents to prove it. Therefore, I am pretty sure that if you try to ask native Corfiots about this subject, you will receive several different versions. Anyway one thing is certain that even today, Liston is an ideal place to enjoy a stroll anytime during the day, especially if it is a sunny one, during the summer.
As I’ve already mentioned at the beginning of my post, at the one side of Liston, lies the North part of Spianada square (The largest square of Balcans and one of the largest in whole Europe), where cricket games take place every now and then, while across the other side rise imposingly the old buildings of the French Army. This was the original usage of Liston and the reason it was constructed. Designed and built during the French dominance in Corfu Island (1807-1814), according to the architectural standards of the 19th century, but also using the Venetian lamps that already existed there before 1807, the headquarters for French soldiers and officers took place at the 2-floor buildings of Liston. Later, during the 50 years that the British dominated Corfu and just before the merge with Greece (1814-1864), they added the rest floors and the arches, giving the building its final imposing look that enchants both locals and visitors.
Of course the spot that Liston is built, is kind of crytical. It connects the historical center of the old Corfu Town with the Old Fort and the former King’s Palace (which nowadays is used as the Corfu Museum of Asian Art) with the South part of Spianada square. It also lies just a few meters away from the temple of Corfu Island’s patron Saint Spyridon.
Nowadays, Liston is the center of attention and the most frequent meeting point for the majority of Corfu’s citizens and numerous cultural events take place at the area. If you get yourself lucky it is extremely possible you watch a cricket match, a concert of the famous Corfiot philharmonic bands or even a concert of famous greek bands or artists, some kind of charity event, local traditional dancing and singing groups dressed as Corfiots from the prelast century, book or photography exhibitions and much more.
Of course a huge part of Easter events take place at Liston during the Easter holidays, such us Christian epitaphs on Holy Friday or the custom of throwing old jugs on Easter’s eve morning.
Since you step your foot on Corfu Island do not even think of not visiting Liston. The experience is unique and I am pretty sure that you are going to love it in just a few minutes. The combination of history, culture, tradition and modern life is just awesome!