One of the most beautiful destinations that is not more than 12 km away from the city center of Corfu is the traditional village Gastouri.
This village is built at an altitude of 120 meters, on the slopes of Mount Agioi Deka. Its connection with the Empress of Austria Elizabeth, her habits, her mansion, the worldwide known Achilleion Palace is undoubtedly one of the reasons one can be fascinated to explore it.
After strolling around the Gastouri village, the details of the old buildings, the biodiversity, as well as the historical elements will sure impress every visitor. Additionally, to this, there are two tall plane trees next to the water spring of the Empress that will drive your attention.
The water spring of the Empress Elizabeth
The water spring of the Empress of Austria-Hungary Elizabeth, was built to meet the water supply needs of the village and was originally called “Platanos Fountain” as there are still plane trees (Platania in Greek language) that date back to about a thousand years.
The people that lived at the village Gastouri wanted to honor the Empress Elizabeth, for her preference to the area, so they decided to name the water spring after her name, placing a Pentelic Marble engraved inscription with her name on it. Many of them were also working for her at the Achilleion Palace. It is said that the Empress Elizabeth, to reciprocate the honor paid to her gave as a present to the Diocese of Gastouri village, a gold-woven Byzantine banner with her original name and the Austrian crown, while both sides bore the figures of St. George and the Holly Mary.
An old uphill path leads to the hill of Agia Kyriaki, a route that is ideal for all the hiking lovers, along with a stunningly beautiful view stretching in front of the eyes of all visitors.
The church of Agia Kyriaki was another place that Empress Elizabeth or “Sad Empress” as it has gone down in history, used to visit to pray and find the serenity she needed so much in her life.
An engraved inscription about her, is located on the chapel, with the following words written in Greek...“ΕΝ ΤΩ ΝΑΙΔΡΙΟ ΤΟΥΤΩ Η ΠΟΝΕΜΕΝΗ ΑΥΤΟΚΡΑΤΕΙΡΑ ΕΛΙΣΣΑΒΕΤ ΠΡΟΣΕΥΧΟΜΕΝΗ ΕΠΑΝΕΥΡΕ ΤΗ ΓΑΛΗΝΗΝ”, after all, she herself had stated, coming to the island of Corfu, that her soul rejoiced every time she gazed at the sea, so her deep faith and the view from that point made her visit this place very often.
The Empress Elizabeth had stated that her soul rejoiced every time she gazed at the sea
The view from the hill where the church of Agia Kyriaki is located is magnificent and one can distinguish the most important sights,such as, Pontikonisi, Monastery of Vlacherna in Kanoni, and even the Old Fortress of Corfu, while on the other side the villages of South Corfu stand out, such as Agios Mattheos and Stroggili.
The chapel is open every year on July 7 during for the celebration of the Saint Kyriaki, and on certain dates for the Divine Liturgy.
Enjoy an utterly relaxing stay, worlds away from hectic everyday routine at Sole di Corfu villa, a newly refurbished 3-bedroom house with beautiful view, on the traditional village Gastouri, only 500m from the Achilleion Palace.