Gastouria is a small village fighting against development, its most illustrious building is The Achillion Palace.
The Achillion Palace built in 1891 for Empress Elizabeth of Austria by the Italian architect Cardilo and a confusing but imposing mansion in a blend of Teutonic, fin-de-siecle, and neo-classic styles. Lawrence Durrell called it Monstrous. Even the empress herself was hesitant before taking up residence but her love for Corfu won out. Her court life back in the Hapsburg's Austria no doubt, contributing to her decision, partly due to her fillandering husband, the Emperor Franz Josef and to her own obsession with the Sea Goddess Thetis with whom she felt a strong identification and to whom the mansion is also dedicated. Her son Rudolphe, she felt, also resembled Achilles, and after his tragic suicide, commissioned and purchased many statues of the hero to ornament the Italian style landscaped gardens. Of particular note is the Dying Achilles by Herter (1884). Below is an oil of the Empress by Winterhalter.
After her assasination by an Italian anarchist in 1898 the estate lay empty for 10 years until it was purchased by Kaiser Wilhiem II for an undisclosed sum. He spent his springs here for the next six years until the outbreak of WW I, at which point The Greek Government took possession.
In 1962 it was leased to Baron von Richtoven for use as a Casino for chemin-de-fer and roulette and is still in operation. Possibly, the Casino has been moved, since this writing, to the Hotel Corfu Holiday Palace/Tel: 39485.
There is also a museum within displaying possessions of the previous occupants including the famous saddle-throne of the Kaiser's from which he would dictate dispatches.
During WW I the Achillion was used as a military hospital and nearby are the grounds of the French Military Cemetery (225 graves). The best view of the surroundings is to be had from the hill of Aghia Kyriaki just opposite.
Achillion Hours: Daily 9 am to 4 pm, 1000 drx, students 500, EU students free. Take bus # 10 from San Rocco Sq, 6/day, 30min.
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