The Achilleion Palace is one of the most famous royal mansions in Europe and perhaps the most important architectural landmark in Corfu. Located in Gastouri, approximately 10 km from Corfu Town, it was designed by the Italian architects Raffaele Caritto and Antonio Lanti, in the Pompeian order.
It was built in 1890, entirely with the expense of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria (also known as Sissy), who, because of her delicate health condition, requested its construction for her holidays. The villa was dedicated to Achilles and the courtyard of which is enriched with statues of ancient Greek mythology. Of these the most famous works are the Seven Muses and the Dying Achilles, the work of the German sculptor Ernst Herter.
Elisabeth, the “melancholy queen”, was murdered in 1898 and Emperor of Germany Wilhelm II (aka "Kaiser") bought the Achilleion Palace, where he lived during his regular spring visits in Corfu. He was a highly cultured man and a lover of ancient Greek civilization.
He placed a colossal statue of Achilles with the inscription, “To the Greatest Greek from the Greatest German ", a sentiment which was removed after World War II.
After the World War the property of the villa was passed on to the Greek state. It was deserted until 1962 when it was assigned to a West German company to operate as a casino, at the behest of King Paul so as to become comparable to Monaco, and with it the parallel development of Corfu. The casino scene of the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981) was filmed at the Achilleion. Ultimately the casino worked with some small breaks until 1981, when the then political outbreaks forced it to close. It reopened in 1984 under the direction of the GNTO (Greek National Tourism Organization). The ground floor of the building now functions as a museum.
In the interior of the Achilleion Palace there are frescoes and decorations by important artists of the time of its construction, while the second floor has an Ionic colonnade. Around the palace are lush green gardens, with views to the north and south. The walls are full of bougainvillea with bright colors; everywhere towering palms and cypresses. The gardens are adorned by many statues, mostly of Achilles, the beloved hero of the empress, from whom one of the most famous royal mansions in Europe got its name.
Visit the Achilleion Palace - One of the Most Famous Royal Mansions in Europe and instantly fall in love as did the Austrian Queen, Sissy. Stroll through the gardens dedicated to her hero Achilles, whose marble statue depicts him trying to escape death by pulling out the arrow from his heel. Continue through the gardens to the terrace with the statues of the nine muses and reflect on which one represents you on a tour of Corfu Island.