The Achilleion Palace is one of Europe's most famous royal villas. It was built by the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, during the years 1889-1992, in the Gastouri region of Corfu, in order to be used as her summer residence. The complex is located on the slope of a mountain, on 82,600 square meters of land, which reaches all the way to the sea.
In 1929, the estate under the name "Achilleion" of N. Corfu was handed over to the Greek State. According to Law 49/1946 (Government Gazette 246 / A / 24.08.1946) the administration and management of the property was entrusted to the General Secretariat of Tourism. Subsequently, the property was taken over by EOT under article 23 of Law 1565/1950 (Government Gazette 255 / A / 29.10.1950), as ratified, amended by Article 1 of Law 1662/1951 (Government Gazette 7 / A / 08.01.1951) and, in 2003, the former EDF SA transferred an area of 81,600 square meters (after more recent measurement) at the Middle Corfu Land Registry on Volume 396 et al. 40578. According to the provisions of article 196 of Law 4389/2016, as amended and in force, the property has now become the property of HPPC.
In 1929, the Achilleion Estate became the property of the Greek State. The administration and management of the property was entrusted to the General Secretariat of Tourism, and subsequently taken over by GNTO. In 1967, the Achilleion Estate, including the wooded area around the palace within a radius of two kilometers, was designated a historic landmark as a place of particular natural beauty and special interest from an architectural or historical point of view (Government Gazette 183 / B / 16.3.1967).
The estate was re-surveyed in 2003, and registered in the Middle Corfu Land Registry of Volume 396 et al. 40578 as measuring 81,600 square meters. In 2016, the estate became the property of HPPC, according to the provisions of article 196 of Law 4389/2016, as amended and in force.
The building complex originally consisted of the palace with some of its ancillary buildings, the Baron’s Building and the Gatehouse. The area also included the Peristyle of the Muses, the gardens of the palace, various buildings in the forest, the Heine Staircase and the beach building. Changes to the original structure were made both by the next owner, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and by the German Casino Company, which leased the property from the Greek state for a period of time. In the years 1992-1994, GNTO proceeded with the restoration and repair of the palace façades and terraces, as well as the restoration of the Heine Staircase Peristyle.
The most recent phase of restoration and renovation of the palace complex began in 2013, with co-financing from the NSRF Operational Program 2007-2013, to prevent the collapse of the load-bearing structure of the Gatehouse. The project was completed in 2015 and the upper floor, level with the entrance road, was reopened as a ticket office, with the necessary building finishes and services. The façades of the building have been fully restored, while other construction and building services work on the lower two floors has been part of the co-financing for the 2014-2020 period.
The Achilleion complex consists of the palace, which dominates thanks to its size, form and height (located on a hill). Around it, within a short distance, are the remaining three buildings of the complex, namely the Gatehouse at the central entrance to the complex, the Guard’s Building to the west, and the Baron’s Building by the exit.
Since the casino ceased operation, the palace has been used partly as a museum – with exhibits of Elizabeth’s and the Kaiser’s furniture and personal items, mainly on the ground floor and on part of the first floor. The large hall and the Peristyle of the Muses on the top floor are used for occasional gatherings and other events. Part of the west wing of the first floor houses the administration offices.
Following the restoration work, the ground floor of the building functions as a ticket office for the museum, while the updated layout of its interior can accommodate temporary exhibitions. The remaining two floors, which will be adapted for staff use and the operational needs of the complex, are projected for completion within the next two years.
In 2012, a café area on the ground floor of the building was refurbished and remains in operation.
Today, this building houses the museum and casino archives.
The Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture has prepared a museological study with plans for the operation of the museum complex, as well as visitor programs.
The rest of the Achilleion Estate, which includes forests, the Heine Staircase, and access to the sea (pier and Kaiser Bridge), is an additional attraction for visitors and invites an extended sojourn.
1a PERISTYLE OF THE MUSES
1b NORTHERN GARDENS
2 GUARD’S BUILDING
3 BARON’S BUILDING
5 HEINE STAIRCASE