Vido | Corfu’s Alcatraz and cemetery island

The Venetians’ Alcatraz

Vido island has played an important role throughout the centuries in the history of Corfu and has always been a strategic point in Corfu’s defences. The Venetians, who occupied Corfu from the 15th to the 18th Century, decided that the island could serve as an Alcatraz. According to legend, during their occupation there were tunnels built between Vido and Corfu Town and criminals were transported though these tunnels to the island, where they were imprisoned.

During the Venetian period, Vido had several owners, including ‘Guido Mali Pieri’, after whom the island is named. Slowly, his name Guido degenerated into Vido. The final letter ‘s’ was added a few years later.

But the Venetians had not put a fortress on the Vido to defend it so it was easy for the Turks, then called Ottomans, to occupy the island. Between 1537 and 1716 they used the island as a base for their attacks on Corfu.

After the departure of the Venetians, Corfu was taken over by the French. Vidos was further strengthened and the French called the islet ‘island of peace’ (Île de la Paix).

British prison and fortress

The British also used it as a prison again in the 19th century and turned the island into an almost impenetrable fortress, before destroying their own and all the previous fortifications on their departure. The isolated remains of the prison and its solitary confinement area can still be found today.

Island of the death: cemetery and mausoleum

A final chapter in Vido’s island history came during the First World War. While the main camps of the recuperating army were on Corfu itself, the sick and near-dying Serbian soldiers were treated on Vido to prevent epidemics. More than 1200 soldiers lost their lives to plague and starvation while defending Corfu’s freedom. For them a large mausoleum was built by Serbs in the 1930s. The impressive building contains memorial tiles for all 1232 soldiers.

So Vido eventually became a cemetery. Due to the island’s small size and its rocky soil, it soon became necessary to bury the dead in the sea. Over 5,000 people were buried at sea near the island of Vido.

Juvenile prison

From 1918 to 1926 Vido became an annex of the Corfu prison until 1945 when it was converted to a juvenile agricultural detention centre and from 1945 to 1976 it became a high security juvenile prison.

These days

  • Recommended:
    • spend an afternoon walking, discovering, swimming and enjoying the stunning views of Corfu town
    • spend the evening enjoying dinner on the terrace of the only restaurant on the island
  • You can reach the islet by boat for a mere 2 euro (return ticket) and in about only 10 minutes fare
  • There are three sandy-pebble beaches (Tramountana beach!) where you can swim
  • Since 1993 the island of is a protected nature reserve

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-01

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-02

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-03

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-04

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-05

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-06

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-07

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-08

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-09

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-10

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-11

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-12

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-13

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-14

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-15

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-16

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-17

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-18

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-19

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-20

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-21

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-23

 

Vido Island - Corfu (c) Sylvie De Weze-22