Achilleion Travel Blog› entry 2 of 4 › view all entries
This was the main highlight of shore excursion we did on the cruise. Achilleon Palace was built by Empress of Austria, Elisabeth of Bavaria, also known as Sissi. The theme behind the palace design was Achilles. She was fluent in Greek and determined to immerse herself into the Greek culture after she lost her only son, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria in the Mayerling affair, in 1889.
Achilleon was designed by the Italian architect, Rafaelo Carito. Ernst Herter was a famous German sculptor and was commissioned to create works inspired by Greek mythology. The Dying Achilles was created in Berlin in 1884, and is the centerpiece of the Achilleon Gardens. It was constructed in a neoclassical fashion and has two stories above the ground level which are said to be beautifully decorated and furnished with a number of paintings and statues (the tour only allows access to the ground floor and the gardens).
The gardens extend far to the coastal roads and provide panoramic views of the entire island of Corfu. Unfortunately, Sissi did not live long enough to enjoy her masterpiece as she was assassinated in Geneva in 1898. The palace then remained empty until 1907 when Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany bought it. He removed the two large statues of Achilles and built the House of Knights for his battalion. He rearranged the gardens as well. During both World Wars, the palace was used as both a hospital and headquarters. After WWII, it became a public estate.
Being the art history geek, this was the most enjoyable stop on our tour of Corfu. And for those who are movie geeks, the talked about how the James Bond movie, "For Your Eyes Only" was filmed at the palace. The giant Fresco of Achilles carrying Hector after the battle is one of the signature locations in the movie. I am not a James Bond movie buff but perhaps I should be as this is the second place in the world I've been which is more well known due to a James Bond movie! LOL.