Mon Repos is a very interestingly designed, colonial mansion set in massive grounds. The gardens have a myriad of exotic plants, and stretch down to the beach of the same name. With magnificent views to the Old Fortress and beyond, it is a multifaceted piece of paradise for those interested in botany, archaeology, architecture or photography to discover.
Back to 1826, an impressive mansion was built on 258 acres of fertile land. It was located very close to the ancient archeological ruins of the 8th century BC city of Paleopolis, Corfu.
The English Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, Frederick Adam, built the palace to be used as his summer residence and to fulfill his beloved wife, Nina Palatianos’ dream of living in a palace in the countryside.
The palace that enchanted Empress Sissy with its beauty
There were many famous people of the time who visited the mansion, Mon Repo. The receptions held in the gardens were renowned in Greece, England and India.
One of the visitors to the palace was the Empress of Austria-Hungary, Elizabeth, who stayed at the mansion for an extended period in 1863. The legendary, princess Sissi, as Empress Elizabeth was also known, loved Greece and especially adored Corfu, where she chose to build her own palace, the well-known Achilleion Palace.
The rare plants and perennial trees of Mon Repo
It is said that the estate received numerous, noteworthy gifts from royalty that visited it. Among them were many rare species of plants. More than 2,000 species, many of which can still be found to this day, were planted in the gardens of the mansion. Impressive are the age-old trees that one encounters during one’s visit, which provide natural shade even in the hottest months of summer.
The name Mon Repo and the royal family
In 1864, after the Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece, a decision was made by the Municipality of Corfu to grant the estate and the palace to King George I, King of Greece, which was used by the royal family as a summer residence until 1967. It was during this time that King George I himself gave the mansion the name Mon Repo, meaning ‘my rest’ or ‘my repose’.
The birth of the Prince Philip, future husband of England’s Queen Elizabeth
For many of the visitors, it is very interesting that, at Mon Repo, on a kitchen table in the palace, on June 10, 1921, Philip Maudbaden was born. He was enrolled in the municipal registers of Corfu. At the age of just 18 months, his family was exiled from Greece for life.
They were shipped out on HMS Calypso, a British naval vessel, with Philip transported in a makeshift crib made from a fruit crate. Philip’s family went to France, where they stayed at the Parisian suburb of Saint-Cloud, at his aunt, Princess George’s house.
Prince Philip and the Queen were formally introduced to each other when the Queen was 13 years old and Philip was 18, although they had met 5 years before. Elizabeth was attracted to Philip and corresponded with him while he was in the Navy. The couple got married at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947. Prince Philip gave up his Greek title and became a British citizen making England his permanent place of residence.
The occupation, the change of government and the claim of the palace and the estate
During the occupation, Mon Repo was inhabited by Parini, the Italian political commander of the Ionian Islands.
The Royal Family held claim to the estate and the palace until 1967, when after the coup, King Constantine II, Prince Philip’s uncle, abdicated and fled the country. It reverted to the Municipality of Corfu. Despite the legal disputes and efforts of King Constantine II until 1991, it remains the property of the Corfu Municipality to this day. Compensation was however paid to him in 2002 for the loss of this property.
On October 4, 1992, the main entrance gate of Mon Repo was officially opened to the public. Restoration works were carried out inside Mon Repo as it was the venue for the European Leaders’ Summit in June, 1994.
The museum and the ancient temples
A milestone in the history of Mon Repo is the concession of the mansion to the Ministry of Culture, for fifty years, to house the Museum of Paleopolis. This decision was made by the municipality in 1995.
The museum started operating in 2000 and houses finds of great historical and archaeological significance associated with the Mon Repo estate, the ancient city of Corfu and objects related to life in the mansion.
The ancient city of Corfu, according to archeological findings, stretched from the area of Anemomylos to Kanoni and had two ports, the port of Alkinoos and the Greek port. The area where the Mon Repo estate is located was the centre of Paleopolis.
ΑΣΙΘΙΑΝΑΚΗΣ,Δημήτρης, Μον Ρεπο, https://www.kerkyrainfo.gr/nomoskerkyras/monrepo/index.html
ΜΠΟΛΟΒΙΝΗ, Ελένη, Η πραγματικά παράξενη ζωή του πρίγκιπα Φιλίππου, πατέρα του Καρόλου -Γιατί απαρνήθηκε την ελληνική ταυτότητά του,
iefimerida.gr – https://www.iefimerida.gr/news/415189/i-pragmatika-paraxeni-zoi-toy-prigkipa-filippoy-patera-toy-karoloy-giati-aparnithike-tin
iefimerida.gr Μον Ρεπό: Το παλάτι που δημιούργησε ένας έρωτας και διεκδίκησαν πολλοί,
healthyliving.gr, Έπαυλη Μον Ρεπό- Μουσείο Παλαιόπολης: Μια ιστορία 180 χρόνων, https://www.healthyliving.gr