Almost opposite the entrance to Mon Repos stands the ruined church of Paleopolis.
This church was decorated with sculptures and a mosaic floor and was the largest basilica in Greece.
Some floor mosaics were discovered in 1846 and depict figures of plants and animals, but now they are housed in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George.
The church was founded in the first half of the 5th Century on the site of a semi-circular Roman building dating t the 1st Century B.C.
At the Western end there is a triple entrance which is composed of marble and on an inscription it reads that the church was built by Bishop Jovian.
Jovian was the Bishop of Corcyra and the mosaics were done by a certain Elpidios whose name appeared on the same inscription.
In the walls there are eleven marble lion heads (beginning of the 4th Century B.C) which were placed there in the 12th Century and came from the ancient temple of Hera.
This Basilica was many times destroyed by invaders and it was first burnt down in the 6th Century during the raids of the Vandals and the Goths and later completely destroyed by the Saracens and the Normans in the 11th Century.
It was rebuilt but in 1537 it was again destroyed by the Turks.
Once again it was restored in 1680 under the Venetians by the monk from Crete, Arsenios Caloudis.
The walls, standing today belong to different periods :
The door opening is of the 16th Century, the arched openings of the mid-Byzantine era while the belfry is of the 17tyh Century.
This church is connected with the Corfu legend of St. Kerkyra (first woman Saint who martyred).
St. Kerkyra was the daughter of Cercillinus the Roman Governor of the island and she was put to death in 70 A.D on her father’s orders for converting to Christianity.
According to the legend St. Kerkyra is the guardian of mythical treasures hidden in the catacombs of the church.
Note : You can only go treasure hunting if you have St. Kerkyra’s written permission, signed by her father !!!!
By Aleko Damaskinos