If you’ve ever visited Corfu town, or sailed past, or flown over, you have probably seen the tiny island of Vidos, lying just a kilometre from the town. The roughly pentagon-shaped island is only half a mile wide, and covered in forest. There are wild rabbits and pheasants everywhere. As I was keen to add to my list of Greek islands we have visited, we anchored off the beach on the northern side just as the sun was setting, and took the dinghy ashore the next morning.
Some Google research about Vidos told me that ‘once you’ve been to the taverna, there isn’t much more to see….’ so my expectations weren’t very high. But boy, was that Trip Advisor reviewer wrong!
During World War I, 150,000 Serbs arrived in Corfu. Many of the injured and sick soldiers were sent to Vidos, but the poor living conditions and hygiene meant that 30,000 of them died on the island. Therefore it has since been called the ‘island of death”. Due to the small size of the island, it soon became necessary to bury the dead in the sea (by weighting the corpses with rocks to prevent them from floating). Over 5,000 people were buried at sea near the island of Vidos, where the waters are known as the Blue Sea Tomb.
We walked through the woods on rough stony tracks and followed an ancient brick wall, probably built centuries ago by those cunning Venetians, who once owned the island between the 16th and 19th centuries. It was reminiscent of an English wooded landscape in places, and especially reminded me of Brownsea Island, in Dorset.
My research revealed that along with the taverna, there were also some ruined buildings, which were once a prison, and later a borstal. Several websites indicated that tunnels were built between Corfu town and the island, to transport the prisoners, but I’m not sure if this is actually true, as surely boats would be quicker and easier. But we did look out for any possible tunnel entrances…. We also saw other, more relatively modern buildings, a dining hall, and a doctor’s surgery, and a football pitch, which were part of a children’s summer camp.
Then we saw the most amazing building of all! Completely unexpected on this tiny island. A three storey Venetian house! Beautifully decorated with red paint and green shutters and a balcony, this once majestic house had been long abandoned, and was now a ruin.
The outside structure was virtually complete, but peering through open doorways, you could see derelict rooms, broken floorboards, crumbling staircases. There was even a cellar with stone steps leading down to a cavernous room.
If this had been in the U.K., the whole site would have been fenced off, warning notices erected, and vandals would probably have sprayed graffiti everywhere, or used it for late night parties. But this was Greece, and people don’t do that. Even the children playing nearby knew not to enter.
At the front of the old house, leading down from the grand pillared entrance, were many steps, which eventually led to the seafront and jetty where the trip boats arrived. Also here was a huge taverna! I expected it to be a tiny beach shack, but this was obviously a big business in the summer, catering for day visitors, and offering an extensive, if overpriced menu.
But the views were to die for. Just a kilometre across the water, are the beautiful Venetian houses of Corfu town, the fortress, and the castle. Such a great location for our cup of coffee!
There was a tiny harbour close by with a tiny beach. Behind the beach was a memorial to the Serbian soldiers who had died in the war, and a strange circular building which may have once been part of a church.
We carried on down the path leading eastwards, and a huge cruise liner appeared in the sea behind the trees, moving slowly towards its berth in Corfu harbour. I would have loved to have been on that cruise ship as it entered Corfu!
We then came to the impressive mausoleum, built by the Serbs to honour their war dead. Each soldier who died had their name inscribed on a marble square.
It was getting very hot now, as it was approaching midday, and poor Tim was flagging. He really is feeling the heat this year, much more than me. So we kept to the shady paths and eventually reached the beach where we had left the dinghy. A cold beer when we got back to Fandancer was very welcome! I had such a lovely visit to this tiny island, I said ‘how amazing’ countless times, and took lots of photos.
Vidos certainly has an interesting history. Read more about it on this website….