The Dandalo Tower: Relic of the Crusades
The Dandalo Tower dates from the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade of 1202. Masterminded and led by the elderly Doge, Enrico Dandalo, the Crusade, an uneasy mixture of Venetian and Frankish forces, was aimed at Constantinople rather than the Holy Land. The Crusaders sacked the (Christian) city, pillaging or destroying its great religious treasures, and carrying much back to Venice. It was the end of Byzantium, though a diminished Constantinople held out another two and a half centuries until its final fall to the Ottomans in 1453.
The subsequent break-up of Byzantine territories amongst the victors laid the foundations of the Venetian Empire. Dandalo did not desire mainland territories, and Greece was mostly fragmented amongst the Frankish Barons. What he wanted, and got, was a chain of coastal possessions, from the Dardenelles back to the Adriatic, which would provide security for Venetian shipping.
Among the new holdings was a region in the north of Corfu, where a scion of the family built a fortress, still known as the Dandalo Tower. This massive square castle rises to three storeys, which were accessed by a drawbridge. The ground floor consists of windowless dungeons; looters, chasing rumours of buried treasure, have broken through the wall.
The Tower is roofless, but smothering undergrowth has not taken over as it has many other ruins, for the current owner, a descendent of the Doge Dandalo, sends money every year to keep nature at bay.
To reach the Dandalo Tower, take the inner road which leads off from the ’roundabout’. Turn off it at a road off to the right beside a bridge (also beside a hotel called Dandalo). Follow this minor road gently up the valley; after it gets steeper look for a track on the left, marked with blue arrows. A short distance along the track you come to a small church; the Tower is to the left in the trees.