Visit Achilleion to marvel at a lavish hilltop villa blessed with grand halls, elegant courtyards, frescoes and statues. Wander around the villa’s garden to enjoy views of Corfu’s beaches, mountains and green countryside. This architectural masterpiece was built as a summer villa for the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Revered Italian architect Raffaele Carito designed Achilleion in the late 1800s. He took inspiration from the mythical Greek god Achilles.
The palace and garden evoke a sense of artistic beauty and peace, even when busy with visitors. Step inside the main entrance and gaze up at the ceiling fresco that portrays the four seasons of time. Admire the graceful marble staircase, fronted by statues of Zeus and Hera.
Go to the palace’s chapel, where Empress Elisabeth of Austria once came to pray. Look for statues of Athena and Hebe, an ornamental clock and a painting that depicts the trial of Christ. Spot paintings of the mythological story of Ulysses on the Phaeacian island. Glimpse inside the room of Kaiser Wilhelm II to see nautical-themed portraits. Wilhelm II bought the palace after the assassination of the empress in 1898.
Walk around the palace’s colonnaded Garden of Muses, a filming location for the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only. Find sculptures of Greek gods plus the busts of ancient philosophers, Shakespeare and other literary greats. Don’t miss the Dying Achilles statue by the German sculptor Ernst Herter. Take time to enjoy the panoramic scenery, including views of Mount Pantokrator and the islet of Pontikonisi.
Located in the village of Gastouri, Achilleion is about a 25-minute drive south from Corfu Town. Public buses leave at regular intervals from Corfu Town’s San Rocco Square. Consider renting a car and driving along the scenic road that passes through small villages and picturesque olive groves. Combine your tour of the palace with a visit to nearby Benitses Beach, home to traditional Greek taverns and lively bars.
Achilleion is open daily and has an admission fee. Pay a small extra charge for an audio guide that provides valuable information about the palace’s rooms and exhibits.