he Esplanade or Spianada (Liston) in old Corfu town is the large park area running between the town and the old fortress. The original meaning of the word esplanade was a large, open, level area outside a fortress or city walls to provide clear fields of fire for the fortress’ guns, these areas were kept clear to allow the soldiers to defend open areas outside of forts.
Today the Esplanade is a beautiful open public park full of trees, wide paths, benches, a band stand, fountains, monuments and a cricket field. At one end of the Esplanade is the Royal Palace of Corfu also called St Michele and St Giorgio Palace which is now home to the Museum of Asian Art. Designed by Colonel George Whitmore in 1819 it is an imposing neoclassical building, with its beautiful Doric Colonnade, wide archway and Georgian style.
In the middle of the Esplanade you will find a fountain, this was originally a Venetian spring. Facing away from the Old fort towards town you will see the large colonnade building known as the Liston. The Liston is a long building running alongside the Esplanade. With its beautiful vaulted galleries, archways and hanging lanterns the Liston was constructed in 1807 during French rule, it was designed by the French Engineer Lesseps, to be a copy in miniature of the rue de Rivoli in Paris.
The Liston is now home to a range of coffee shops and restaurants, there is a constant buzz around the area where locals and tourists converge for meet or watch the world go buy. When first constructed only the noblemen, the Libro D’ Oro, were allowed to enter and walk along the street and under the arches and a special list ensured this area was kept elite. It is thought that the name Liston is derived from the Venetian word ‘lista’ which had two meanings, the first was ‘a wide and straight road for a walk’ and the second ‘a wooden bench on which catalogues were inscribed’ indicating the list of names, therefore it is believed the name Liston was a combination of both meanings.
Corfu town was founded in the 8th century BC and it took its current form 9 centuries ago. A very well preserved medieval town, built between two castles, reflecting European history of over a thousand years. This is the main reason for which the entire historic center of the town was included in the monuments of world cultural heritage of UNESCO in June 2007.
Corfu is a place which welcomed every kind of refugees . The Jews of Spain, the Orthodox of Southern Italy and of Greece, then ruled by the Ottomans, the refugees of Cyprus , Crete , the Peloponnese , Parga , the persecuted Serbs and the immigrants of Malta and the Dalmatian coasts. Together, locals and newcomers created together a symbol of the Mediterranean, an impregnable fortresswhich is the landmark of the West.A cosmopolitan city , the cradle of Music and Culture.