It was the early 1860s when Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, visited for the first time the island of Corfu. In a life full of turmoil and trouble, this green and serene Ionian corner was the ideal haven for the Princess Sisi -also known as the Lonely Empress. After the tragic loss of her only son in 1899, she built Achilleion Palace, designed by Italian architect Raffaele Caritto with Achilles as its central theme -paintings and statues of the Greek hero are abundant, both in the main hall and in the Imperial gardens, which provide a scenic view of the surrounding green hills and valleys, with the Ionian sea in the background.
Sisi’s love for the island, its people, and Greece in general, was undoubtedly great -she even learned the language to communicate with the locals. After her death, Kaiser Wilhelm II purchased it in 1907, in order to use it as his summer residence. During WW I, it was used as a military hospital by Serbian and French troops, and after the war’s ending, it was given to the Greek state thanks to the treaty of Versailles. From 1962 to 1983 it was converted to a casino-museum, and from 1984 onward it is exclusively a museum.