Pantokrator, at more than 900 meters, is the highest mountain of Corfu and rightfully so the pride of the island. The name means Eternal-Ruler (Panto = Eternal, Krator = Ruler). Once you reach the top, which is a steep climb (unless you cheat and go by car or bike), you will see that the name is correct. It is worth the effort to walk to the very top. Your reward is some spectacular views.

A lot of space on Corfu

On a beautiful clear day, you can overlook a large part of Corfu from this point as well as to the mainland.
With reasonable weather, you will spot the runway of the airport (± 30 km distance), and at the same time discover that it is extremely short! The fact that you are on top of the Pantokrator, proves the landing went well again. You can see quite clearly the mainland of Albania and a few of its cities. On a sunny day, even this grey country is a beautiful sight. When you turn your head further to the south, you see the mainland of Greece. With a glance at the west, you will discover the small islands Erikoussa, and Othoni and Mathraki. Very occasionally, on days of excellent visibility, one can even see the ‘heel of the boot’ of Italy, some 130 km away. However, unfortunately the humidity usually makes this impossible. Early or late season would be the best time if you want to try to catch a glimpse of Italy.

Historic Corfu

On top of the mountain you will find – what else would you expect being so near to the Heavens? - a monastery. Hard-working monks in the 14th century built a monastery there with much pain, effort and perseverance. It must have been quite a challenge, certainly because the development and production of trucks, special cargoes and other useful means of transport was still in its infancy as was the road system. In those days, there was no B&Q or any other builder's merchant, which made it a difficult job to build in such a remote place.
Several hundred years later, at the end of the last century to be precise, due to a steady flow of tourists, a souvenir shop was built, which, although it affects the original character of the mountain, nevertheless supplies a need. A café has also been built so why not stop to have a cup of coffee while admiring the panoramic visit. There is also a public telephone for us mere mortals to communicate with our friends and family. How many places can you visit where you can use a public telephone at the highest point of the region, certainly not Mt Everest! It also seemed wise to the Greeks to use this natural height for a huge number of transmitting and receiving masts.

Interesting places on Corfu

The Ipsilos monastery dates from 1347 and is still a working monastery. To visit the small monastery on the inside, it is important to dress accordingly. Since not all tourists are aware of that, the administrators of the monastery deem to provide shawls and skirts at the entrance.
On the 5th and 6th of August there is a celebration on top of Pantokrator in honour of the transfiguration of Christ, as depicted by some of the icons. In the past, people made the pilgrimage by foot from the surrounding villages and some even walked across the mountain chain from the west coast. Nowadays it is a coming and going of the local people whom after visiting the monastery, wander amongst the market stalls looking for some expensive toys and other unnecessary knickknacks. If you are there at that time, please pay special attention to the stallholders, who sometimes only have to take one or two steps backwards to tumble down the hundred-meter drop behind them.

It is lonely at the top

On the way to the top of Corfu, you will pass through many picturesque mountain villages the largest being Spartilas and Strinilas, which arose on the slopes in the distant past. In the highest of these picturesque villages, where time has stood still, you very often see islanders, walking through the narrow alleys, burdened with huge bundles of branches, sacks with olives and other heavy stuff. Others use donkeys and old vehicles to carry their loads over the steep paths and through the narrow streets of their village. Many of these mountain villagers rarely leave their hometown. They largely ignore the mass tourism and other world events. The birth of a lamb at their neighbours or a bumper crop of potatoes is world news for many of the residents of the villages. Life in these Corfiot villages consists of a simple cycle: they are born there, reproduce, till their land and will be buried there. A simple life – one that many of us must dream about sometimes. They are very friendly people, want to share the fruit of their garden with you, and usually are willing to pose for a photo.

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