Palaia (Old) Perithia lies somewhat hidden in the interior of Corfu, at the foot of Pantokrator, the highest mountain on the island. The village dates from the fourteenth century and has a turbulent history. Perithia is now no longer inhabited, although a drifter or recluse may find shelter for a few nights. It is recommended that you leave Perithia before nightfall, as ghosts and demons find it very enjoyable at night and last but not least because the road from the village is unlit and extremely twisty, and has some steep ravines. We are joking about the ghosts and demons of course!!
The ruined pride of Corfu
Palaia Perithia now consists mainly of the ruins of churches and buildings. However some wealthy property developers saw money in it and have renovated several houses back to their original state. There was also a joint European Union and local council initiative to develop the village into a heritage site and they also restored some of the houses. It is forbidden to build new homes here, so the houses have been brought back their original state. To be honest, they have done a good job, the result is beautiful. There are also several taverns here which are very popular in the summer months.
In Perithia you can walk and marvel at the once beautiful and imposing houses. You can dream about the past glory of this beautiful Corfu attraction. You will ask yourself at every ruin that you pass: “What occurred here?, “Who lived there?” At the entrance to the village stands a bell tower - tall and imposing, above the rest of the village. Behind the church there are some ancient tombs. Please be respectful and don’t clamber over them in the process of taking some snapshots to take back home!
Corfu at its best
The journey to Palaia Perithia - the easiest way is from the coastal road on east Corfu - is breathtaking. Passing through Kato Perithia (Low Perithia) and other ancient mountain villages you will come to areas which are impossible to pass. You just must park the car and take lots of snapshots, to prove to yourself that you have not imagined the beauty of the area - beautiful rolling hillsides, lush mountains with floral carpets in wonderful colours and always the sparkling Ionian Sea as a backdrop.
On arrival in Perithia, park your car at the very old church and go quench your thirst in one of the four restaurants that you will find in this deserted village of Corfu. Besides visiting the old town, be sure to walk around the area. You’ll discover thousands of butterflies and other strange creatures, enjoying life in their undisturbed habitat.
The immediate surroundings of old Perithia, in the interior of Corfu, are a paradise for hikers. As the village is certainly not located near any main road, the silence is only disturbed by the thousands of insects of all shapes and sizes. It's a merry coming and going of little hippers and hoppers, rodents and crawlers. The famous stone eater – scientists thought for years it was extinct - is still spotted sometimes. Enjoy the many different species that flutter round you, feeling safe in their habitat and waiting to be photographed.
The exuberant flower tribute of Corfu, the vast vistas and rolling hills contribute to a feeling of intense happiness. For drivers of school buses, teachers, counsellors and other taxing professions this is the ideal environment to come to relax.
Perithia was actually built out of dire necessity during Byzantine times. In the 14th century, Corfu was quite frequently visited by pirates and other greedy people with nefarious intentions. The coastal villages, which had been built on the low fertile plains, were always the ones that suffered most from the pushy pirates, not known for their fairness but for their blood thirst. So the inhabitants decided to go inland and upwards and build a new life for themselves. That is how Perithia came into being. They lived in the village by night and tended their crops in the lowlands in the day. However once the threat of pirates had gone a new invader - malaria carrying mosquitoes - had affected Lake Antinioti, the costal lake. So the residents decided to remain permanently in their village where the mountain air was pure and began to cultivate and till the steep hillside.
The population expanded rapidly. At one time the village had more than 1500 inhabitants, eight churches, a school, a hall, a police station and their own court. That made Perithia one of the largest villages on Corfu.
However in the mid 20th century two things happened which reversed things. Spraying of insecticides wiped out the malaria carrying mosquito and there was a new invader. Except this time they came in peace to the island bringing their money with them rather than departing with the villagers’ money. Yes, the tourists arrived at Corfu. This encouraged the villagers to move back to the fertile lands beside the sea and leave behind the village that had been their life. After the last teachers retired, the school eventually fell into disrepair and was finally closed. In the mid seventies of the previous century, the last residents left and with that came an end to one of the largest villages of Corfu. The only permanent residents now are very few in number and tend the village and the surrounding area.
Almost forgot: there are a few very nice restaurants in this beautiful abandoned village of Corfu. One of them is top: Foros.