The Esplanade or Spianada in old Corfu town is the large park area running between the town and the old fortress. The original meaning of the word esplanade was a large, open, level area outside a fortress or city walls to provide clear fields of fire for the fortress’ guns, these areas were kept clear to allow the soldiers to defend open areas outside of forts.
Today the Esplanade is a beautiful open public park full of trees, wide paths, benches, a band stand, fountains, monuments and a cricket field. At one end of the Esplanade is the Royal Palace of Corfu also called St Michele and St Giorgio Palace which is now home to the Museum of Asian Art. Designed by Colonel George Whitmore in 1819 it is an imposing neoclassical building, with its beautiful Doric Colonnade, wide archway and Georgian style.
In the middle of the Esplanade you will find a fountain, this was originally a Venetian spring. Facing away from the Old fort towards town you will see the large colonnade building known as the Liston.
The Liston is a long building running alongside the Esplanade. With its beautiful vaulted galleries, archways and hanging lanterns the Liston was constructed in 1807 during French rule, it was designed by the French Engineer Lesseps, to be a copy in miniature of the rue de Rivoli in Paris.
The Liston is now home to a range of coffee shops and restaurants, there is a constant buzz around the area where locals and tourists converge for meet or watch the world go buy. When first constructed only the noblemen, the Libro D’ Oro, were allowed to enter and walk along the street and under the arches and a special list ensured this area was kept elite. It is thought that the name Liston is derived from the Venetian word ‘lista’ which had two meanings, the first was ‘a wide and straight road for a walk’ and the second ‘a wooden bench on which catalogues were inscribed’ indicating the list of names, therefore it is believed the name Liston was a combination of both meanings.