The monastery of Paleokastritsa
Exquisite views over the sea and beach resort.
Few visitors to the popular Corfu beach resort will be able to resist a visit to the famous Paleokastritsa monastery.
The landscape around Paleokastritsa is by all accounts of most visitors some of the most beautiful to be found in the whole of Greece. The lush green vegetation cascades down the hillsides to the triple bays of Paleokastritsa.
The monastery of Paleokastritsa was founded in 1225, although the present buildings date back only to the 18th century.
The road from the beach resort passes through thick forests of cypress punctuated by olive groves and the hilltop monastery commands exquisite views over the sea and the beach resort below.
The monastery interior, with its impressive carved wooden ceiling, has a small ecclesiastical museum with some very rare Byzantine icons, several embroidered religious robes and illuminated holy books among other religious relics.
There is also a small souvenir shop full of hand-crafted gifts including small bottle of olive oil produced by the monks who live here. Quite bizarre amongst the other attractions are the bones of what appears to be sea monster or some other animal.
There is an arched inner courtyard and very neatly kept paved gardens of trees and flowers where visitors can enjoy some remarkably good views over the bays below, although you do have to buy a candle to enter.
Visitors should time their visits to early morning or late afternoon is they wish to enjoy the monastery in peace. It is a major attraction on the tripper circuit and the small monastery is easily filled when coach trippers arrive.
Women visitors are asked by the monks to cover up and they supply skirts and throws to hide any naked flash. The monastery also has lots of cats and kittens wandering through the grounds so the children can amuse themselves with them while the grown ups wander around.
There is also a small cafe outside the monastery with snacks and drinks, although these are inevitably pricey given the location and the visitor traffic. There are some great view from the cafe tables though.
Those who follow the road past the cafe will find a smallholding and some allotments among the trees as well as a cemetery and again, some spectacular of the dramatic coastline.
For even better views visit the lovely, picturesque hillside village of nearby Lakones located on the slopes of the mountain.
Lakones is reached by several paths that lead down to Paleokastritsa. The village has many 18th and 19th century houses spread over the hillside and there are several beautiful churches as well as a number of traditional kafenion coffee shops.
From the back of the village is a stone paths or 'kalderimi' that lead up to the top of Mount Arakli. These cobbled paths were once found all over Corfu but many have now disappeared.