|Greece – Angelokastro on the NW coasts of Corfu island
“Angelokastro” is one of the most important Byzantine castles of Greece and certainly of Corfu. The origin of its name is not completely clear, with some historians mentioning that in 1214 Michael I Komnenos Doukas Despot of Epirus, sometimes called Michael Angelos, annexed Corfu to Epirus and following his death, Michael II Komnenos Doukas, often called Michael Angelos in narrative sources, further fortified the area and named it after himself and his father: Angelokastro. The Despots were related to the Komnenoi dynasty of Byzantine emperors. Today foreign language tourist signs in the area refer to it, wrongly, as “St. Angelo's” castle or “Castle of the Angels”. Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Byzantine Corfu. It forms an Acropolis that surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and therefore presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle. It played a pivotal role during the Great Siege of Corfu in 1571 when the Turkish attack on the northwestern flank of Corfu was successfully repulsed by the defenders of the castle. Located at the top of the highest peak of the Corfu shoreline in the northwest coast near Paleokastritsa ( in Greek : Old Castle place ) and built on particularly steep and rocky terrain.
For many centuries Angelokastro was an important strategic fortification to protect Corfu commanding, as it does, a view of almost the entire southern Adriatic. According to the notice board on display it was probably first occupied in the early Byzantine period (5th - 7th Centuries).
The castle enjoyed considerable prominence during the period of Venetian rule (1386 - 1797).
Later it fell into disuse and during the 19th Century it was in a totally abandoned state. It was restored to its present condition in 1999.
It is protected on 3 sides by the sea, the west and south sides being precipitous cliffs. The only access is by a narrow land bridge and a very steep climb. At the highest point is The Citadel with its main gate at the north protected by a circular tower. The ruins opposite the main gate were the garrison's quarters, and 3 underground cisterns kept the castle supplied with water. The walls' battlements only survive today in the north-west corner. At the highest point of The Citadel stands the little Church of the Archangel Michael, which was built on the site of what was probably an early Christian 3-aisled church. Several nearby graves were carved out of solid rock. The wall paintings are relatively modern dating from the 18th Century.
At the edge of the Empire
It can be reasonably assumed that since Byzantium lost its dominion over southern Italy in 1071 A.D. the
Komnenoi must have paid a lot of attention to the castle since Corfu by default became the frontier to the west of the Byzantine Empire between the 11th and 12th centuries, serving to separate and defend Byzantium from its dangerous foes to the west.
At the same time the acritic and windswept fortifications helped safeguard Corfu from the great menace of that era, i.e. the Normans of Sicily whose constant incursions had turned the island into a theatre of military conflict.
Students - active in preparing this project
Irini Anthi (16), Filippos Doukakis (16), Maria Skoularakou (17), Katerina Nikita (17)
INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL
OFFICIAL NAME OF SCHOOL
4o Geniko Lykeio Kerkyras
TYPE OF SCHOOL
Secondary General Education School
3rd Parodos Ethnikou Stadiou
E-MAIL OF SCHOOL
TEACHER CONTACT DETAILS
Panos Dimisianos, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org