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Achillion Palace in Corfu - Information and pictures ... !!

A popular day trip from any of Corfu's resorts is to the Achillion Palace. It was built in 1890-1891 by the Italian architect Raphael Carita for the Empress Elizabeth of Austria (1837-1898), formerly Elizabeth of Bavaria. She used it as a personal retreat from the problems she was enduring at the Hapsburg court. Her health was poor and her husband, Emperor Franz Josef, notoriously unfaithful. After the assassination of the Empress Elizabeth by an Italian anarchist in 1898, the palace lay empty for nearly a decade until it was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1907. The Achillion Palace is famous as the set used for the casino in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

The lush green gardens below the palace are terraced on a slope which drops 150 m (490 ft) to the coast road. The views along the rugged coast both north and south are spectacular. In the grounds the walls are draped with colorful bougainvillea and a profusion of palm trees.
The gardens are also dotted with numerous statues, especially of Achilles, who was the empress's hero, after whom the palace is named.

One moving bronze of the Dying Achilles is by the German sculptor, Ernst Herter. The statue is thought to have appealed to the unhappy empress following the tragic suicide of her second son, the Archduke Rudolph, at Mayerling. Another impressive statue of the hero Achilles is the massive 15m (49 ft) high, cast-iron figure, which was commissioned by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Achillion Palace, Corfu

There have been numerous attempts to describe the Achillion's architectural style, ranging from Neo-Classical to Teutonic, although Lawrence Durrell was more forthright, and declared it "a monstrous building". The empress was not particularly pleased with the finished building, but her fondness for Corfu made her decide to stay. The palace does however contain a number of interesting artifacts.

Inside, some original furniture is on display and on the walls there are some fine paintings of Achilles, echoing the bronze and stone statues seen in the gardens. Another exhibit is the strange saddle-seat that was used by Kaiser Wilhelm II when-ever he was writing at his desk. Visitors requiring a pick-me-up after touring the palace can try the Vasilakis Tastery, opposite the entrance, and sample this local distiller's many products, which include a number of Corfu wines, ouzo and the speciality kumquat liqueur.

The Legeld of Achilles: Shortly after his birth, Achilles was immersed in the River Styx by his mother Thetis.
This left him invulnerable apart from the heel where she had held him. Achilles' destiny lay at Troy, Helen, the wife of King Menelaos of Sparta, was held by Paris at Troy where Menelaos and his allies laid siege. As the Greeks' mightiest warrior, it was Achilles who killed the Trojan hero Hector. However, he did not live to see Troy fall, since he was struck in the heel by a fatal arrow from Paris's bow.

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