11,5 km from the southern part of the town, on a small hill, is the most outstanding and the most famous jewel on the island: the Achilleion, a fine and elegant building, associated with important people and romantic stories.
It was built at the end of the 19th century by Elisabeth, the Empress of Austria-Hungary, better known as Sissi. Her great love and admiration for Greek mythology were expressed through the decoration of her villa with sculptures and paintings representing scenes from mythology, naming her house after Achilles.
In 1908, the palace was bought by the Kaiser of Germany, Wilhem II, who used it as a summer residence till the outbreak of war in 1914. Wilhem moved the statue of the Dying Achilles to its present position, where the bronze statue of the Victorious Achilles used to be.
In 1915, French and Serbian troops occupied Corfu, turning the palace into a hospital and headquarters. In 1919, it came into the ownership of the Greek State. During World War II, the German an Italian occupiers used it as a hospital and headquarters.
The Achilleion was designed by the Italian architects Raphaello Corito and Antonio Landi, while Elisabeth herself supervised its construction. It is a luxurious palace in Pompeian style with many neoclassical features, with many statues from the Borghese Collection. Built atop a hill, it has a wonderful view of the green hillsides around it and of the sea, and is surrounded by marvelous gardens of dense vegetation, decorated with beautiful statues.
The famous statue of Dying Achilles was sculpted by the German sculptor Ernest Herter and commissioned by Elisabeth, who at first had it in her palace in Vienna but later moved it to the Achilleion. This wonderful marble sculpture shows Achilles naked, trying to pull from his heel, the only vulnerable spot of his immortal body, the deadly arrow that Paris has fired at him.
On the next level down is a spacious terrace with beautiful plants, an amazing view to the sea and fine statues. Here, the majestic bronze statue of “Victorious Achilles” dominates. It was made in 1909 by the German sculptor Jietz and was transported to the island in pieces and put together there. It was commissioned by Kaiser Wilhem II who adored ancient Greece.
In the entrance of the Achilleion, there is a statue of Elisabeth.