Achilleion (Corfu)

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Achilleion (Greek:  Αχίλλειο or Αχίλλειον ) is a palace built in Gastouri (Γαστούρι) on the Island of Corfu for the Empress (GermanKaiserinElisabeth of Austria, also known as Sisi, after a suggestion by the Austrian consul Alexander von Warsberg.[1][2] Elisabeth was deeply saddened by the tragic loss of her only son, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria following the Mayerling incident in 1889, and a year later she had this summer palace built as a refuge.

Achilleion is located about ten kilometres south of the city of Corfu and provides a panoramic view of the city to the north, and across the whole southern part of the island to the Ionian Sea.[3]

 

he architectural style was designed to suggest an ancient palace of mythical Phaeacia.[4] The motif centers on the hero Achilles of Greek mythology, from which the name is derived. Corfu was Elisabeth’s favourite vacation destination and she wanted a palace to gratify her admiration for Greece, its language and its culture.[5]

The property currently operates as a museum under the management of Hellenic Tourism Development Company,[6] within the Greek National Tourism Organization.

The Achilleion property was originally owned by Corfiote philosopher and diplomat Petros Brailas-Armenis, and was known as “Villa Vraila”. In 1888, the Empress of Austria after visiting the place decided that it was the ideal location for her own palace on Corfu.[7]

“I want a palace with pillared colonnades and hanging gardens, protected from prying glances – a palace worthy of Achilles, who despised all mortals and did not fear even the gods.”
Elisabeth of Austria[4]

The palace was designed by Italian architect Raffaele Caritto and built on an area of 200,000 m2. Elisabeth’s husband, Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, had owned some nearby land as well.[1][8][9][10] The German sculptor Ernst Herter was commissioned to create works inspired from Greek mythology. His sculpture Dying Achilles (Ancient Greek: Αχιλλεύς θνήσκων), created in Berlin in 1884 as inscribed in the statue, forms the centrepiece of the Achilleion Gardens.

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