Many visitors to the island are unaware of the existence of the oldest and most important village of interest, located in the heart of Mount Pantokrator of Corfu. Ruined stone mansions, half-ruined temples with muted bell towers and narrow cobbled streets, compose the landscape of the time-forgotten Old Peritheia, whose history began around the 3rd century BC, but was unexpectedly lost over the 2nd century.
In today’s ruined village, one feels as if one is retracing the “footsteps” of those of bygone eras. The natural beauty, unique architectural wealth and the atmosphere and art of another era are kept unchanged.
In the village square the so-called “Tax” – as the locals usually called the square of each village of Corfu – you will find old stone houses tastefully converted into traditional tavernas, reminiscent of eating at the house of a family of past times. Homemade Corfiot food and snacks are probably the most delicious you are likely to try on the entire island! In summer tavernas are open almost daily, but also operate in winter over weekends, as the area is visited by locals as an escape from everyday life.
In winter, human voices are rarely heard in the ruined village and the most frequent visitors are passers-by. The route, of course, consists of many turns, the road is relatively good and throughout it you feel as if you are moving away from culture and entering the charm of a another era, another world.
Old Peritheia was permanently abandoned by its inhabitants in the 1960s, when the last families settled in the coastal areas below it. However, despite being abandoned by the people of Corfu, today it adorns many pages of Greek and foreign magazines, which rank it among the most attractive destinations, not only in Greece, but also in Europe.
The area also enchanted an Independent team that visited it. One of the reporters stated, “Cherries, figs, quinces, pomegranates, pears, apples, asparagus, fennel and oregano grow here. The village’s oaks were used to build Venetian ships, and agriculture was a pillar of the economy until the 1960s.’
So if you are interested in an authentic Greek getaway to a well-hidden unique destination, visit this somewhat ghostly, atmospheric village, with its stone architectural masterpieces. It is also highly recommended for photography enthusiasts. Although the village has remained completely unchanged by tourist development, there is the accommodation for anyone who wishes to stay there in the form of a small stone, beautifully restored Bed and Breakfast establishment, with rooms to let… it is picture-book pretty.
Its name is said to have come from the eponym “Peri-spectaca” for the mountains that surround it, or later, derived from the protection of the eight churches that protected it around the perimeter “Peri-aia”.
It is the oldest village in Corfu, as it was built in the pre-Christian years, when the then few inhabitants, looking for a safe “corner” to escape from the tsunamis that “pounded” Corfu, built ancient Perithia. The area is nailed to a slope of the Pantocrator mountain and surrounded by many hills. Its population later substantially increased, as it became a safe haven from pirate raids due to the security it provided.
Palea Peritheia was the first seat of the municipality of Kassopaia. During the years 1866-1912 it was the seat of the northern part of the island. Its population reached up to 1,100 inhabitants, but over the years the village was abandoned, the inhabitants moved, left the mountains and approached the sea, with the beaches gaining all the glamour and wealth.
The approximately 130 stone mansions are still “jewels” of Venetian architecture that carry history through time. In some of them, their stone “skeletons” survive, many of them are old mansions with coats of arms, characterized by the famous “bozzo” arches and marble stairs.
Eight picturesque churches belonging to various families of the village are also preserved. At the entrance of the village stands the red-bellied bell tower of St. James of Persia, a unique and remarkable religious monument. On the other side is its oldest church, St. Nicholas of Petra, which is pre-Christian.
Since 1980, Old Peritheia has been designated, by ministerial decision, a landscape of natural beauty and as an architectural ensemble that needs State Protection due to, not only, the unique residential complex, but also the small churches with their rare frescoes. In 1996, the Ministry of Culture, declared it a “historic monument.” The settlement of Old Perithia is UNESCO World Heritage Listed.
Αρχαιολογία Online (2019). “Παλιά Περίθεια… στα «χνάρια» περασμένων εποχών“, https://www.archaiologia.gr/blog/2019/01/29/%CF%80%CE%B1%CE%BB%CE%B9%CE%AC-%CF%80%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%AF%CE%B8%CE%B5%CE%B9%CE%B1-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B1-%CF%87%CE%BD%CE%AC%CF%81%CE%B9%CE%B1-%CF%80%CE%B5%CF%81%CE%B1%CF%83%CE%BC%CE%AD/
TRAVEL. “Το χωριό της Κέρκυρας που μάγεψε τον Independent (pics)”, https://www.reader.gr/life/travel/horio-tis-kerkyras-poy-magepse-ton-independent-pics