There, Far Away

Land on the palm of God
”Are you crying?! Oh, no, grit your teeth and bear it and hold your head up high. Let Serbia, which is resting there, walk where you did. She has no other way but her own, and you don’t have a better Serbia than this one”

Text and photographs by: Branislav Matić


It only seems to you that this Island is surfacing in front of you, far away, from the never-ending emerald Lord of the seas. Legends don’t lie: down there, in the depths, lays a golden chest and in it a book of silk and sterling silver. It can only be read by those who come to the sea not to tan but to enlighten. This Island was born in this book and it surfaces from it.
While standing on the bow of the ship ”Pantocrator” it seems to you that only a common mist covers the Island and not the contour of you vision which is fading away and which will fade away when the bow is turned to the other side. And it seems that what you hear is the sound of waves or the sound of centuries, and not your own heart.


The Island got its Greek name, Kerkira (Κέρκυρα), after a nymph, the daughter of the river god Asopos. Zeus’ brother, Poseidon, the god of the sea, was in love with her. Phaiax, the child of the god of the seas and the daughter of the river god, was the forefather of Phaeacians, a happy people from the blessed Island which Homer will immortalize in the Odyssey. Many years later, way back in history, when the Island was ruled by the Byzantines, two acropolis were built on two highest peaks. That it where from originates the Byzantine name Corifo, meaning Peak, the Latin name Corfou and Corfu, which is most popular among foreigners. The Serbs call it Krf and for them it has the importance of an Island of resurrection, and in the water of Ionian Sea, near the capital of Corfu, stands one of the best Serbias that ever existed, calm in its eternity.
It seems that Corfu, in myth and through history, was one of the last and crucial places of man’s fateful roaming, and it happened too often to be an accident. That was what happened with Jason and the Argonauts, with Odysseus, with the Serbian people from 1916 to 1918. That is just what might happen to you, whose hand is courageously writing these lines.


Returning from Colchis, bringing the golden fleece in their heart and princess Medea on their ship, after many hard temptations, the Argonauts arrived to the Island of Kerkira, which you are approaching as well, standing on the bow of ”Pantocrator”. There, on Kerkira, Corfu, the island of the happy people Phaeacians, Queen Arete (Virute), the wife of the good King Alcinous, secretly prepared Jason and Medea’s night wedding, in order to prevent the extradition Medea to Colchis, to her homeland, from where she ran away, with a heart wounded with Eros’ arrow. Understanding that the following morning came too late and aware of the fact that they cannot get back home without Medea, the people of Colchis went up north, establishing a town called Pula, in Istra.
The grand-grand-son of Zeus (on the father’s side) and Hermes (on the mother’s side), the King of Ithaca, Odysseus, came to Kerkira, or Corfu, the happy island of Phaeacians, which Homer is calling Sheria, while returning from the Trojan War, in which he had a very important role. We shall jump over all horrible adventures as a little puddle in the street. Homer already said it all. When the furious Poseidon threw the storm in the sea, Odysseus managed to save himself with the help of the magic veil of goddess Leuchotea and swim to the island of Phaeacians.
You are standing on the west coast, on the spot where poor Odysseus went into the bushes and fell asleep, on the spot where a merry screaming of girls will wake him up. Naked and covered in mud, he stood in front of Nausicaa, the daughter of King Alcinous, while her courtesans ran away. She gave him some clothes and sent him to her father’s court. The trembling of the young princess still remains there, when she saw Odysseus, clean and dressed, ”just like a god”.
You are driving across the island to the east, on the road on which Odysseus walked. With his exciting story, wisdom and strength, Odysseus won the affection of the King and the Queen. Alcinous commanded to prepare a ship for Odysseus and an escort to Ithaca. He is organizing him a luxurious feast, with dancing and competitions. He will also hear the singing of the famous Demodocus.
From a hill on the peninsula of Kanoni, where stood the King’s palace with a fortification, which is todaz the southest part of Corfu, you can see Alcinous’ pier, from which Odysseus left for Ithaca. ”Phaeacian sailors sailed fast, easy and safely. In the early morning, while Odysseus was still asleep. They landed him, still sleepy, and left him on the coast of his native island.”
On Corfu, even the Odyssey was near a happy ending.


Corfu is the second biggest (after Kefalonia) and the most important island of the Ionian archipelago, which the Greek call Seven Islands (Eptanisa). The area of the islands covers 592 km2  , 80 kilometers long and 4-30 kilometers wide. The coast is 217 kilometeres long. Famous are the small islands near Corfu: Vido, Lazaretto and Pontikonisi. The last one, called the Mouse Island is one of the symbols of Corfu; the legend says that it is a petrified Odysseus’ ship, and today on it stands a church dedicated to the Christ Pantocrator. The highest peak of the island (906 meters) is also called Pantocrator. There are 110 thousand residents on the island and it is the most populated island in Ionia.
Preserved trails show that the Greek (the people of Eretria) took this island from Illyrians between 775 and 770 BC. In 644 BC, the oldest sea battle of Ancient Greeks took place between Corfu and Corinth (the first biggest colonizer of the island since, which ended with the victory of Corfu. Historic sources claim that during these wars, Corfu was considered the second biggest power of Greece. In the famous Peloponnesian War, Corfu was on the side of Athens.


When we entered the epoch of empires, from the epoch of Polis (Ancient Greek city-state), the history of Corfu had some very interesting chapters: danger from Rome, Byzantium, Venice, France, England, Turkey, the Uniting and the New Era.
The Byzantine period on Corfu was most important because of the christening of Corfu. The Apostles Jason and Sosipatros, the pupils of Apostle Paul, in the 1st century AD, brought Christianity on the island and forever changed its destiny. (the Church in Corfu, dedicated to the two Apostles, on the south part of the bay Garitza, is one of the most beautiful Byzantine monuments on the island.)
The period of the reign of the people of Venice, 411 years long (1386-1797), was one of the best periods, which is still felt in the architecture, culture, economy and psychology of Corfu. Even today, Corfu looks like Italian towns on the coast then Greek ones. The culture of growing olives also came from Venice. Corfu is still covered in dense forests of olives ― there are 4 million trees. It is said that, thanks to the people of Venice and to St. Spiridon, Corfu remained the only Greek territory which was never under the Turkish occupation.
Napoleon’s France ruled Corfu two times; two years for the first time (1797-1799) and seven years for the second time (1808-1815). They brought the first printing machine in Greece (1798), they improved economy, social care, founded the Ionian Academy, a prominent institution of science and arts, with a great international reputation.The Greek idea of nationalism and liberation became stronger while the French were there.
The English people, as trustees of the State of Ionian Islands established in 1815, introduced many positive measures, but they remained very unpopular. The English reign was ”arrogant and rigorous, often with groundless repressions”.
With the agreement in London from 1863, the position of the ”defender of the island” was taken away from England, and Greek flags fluttered on the fortresses of Corfu. Forty years after the liberation of Greece.


Corfu was lucky to avoid difficult destructions. It was spared by earthquakes, including the catastrophic one which hit the Ionian archipelago in 1953. (In October 1976, with the decision of the Organization of European local autonomy, Corfu became a protected European historic town.)
There are many beautiful buildings in Corfu that you should see, especially two fortresses, the Byzantine one from the 8th century and the one of Venice from the 16th century. Spianada (Esplanade), the great area between the Old Town and the pier, is surrounded by the most beautiful palaces of Corfu, which are mostly built by the people of Malta, of porolite, the exquisite stone for building which was brought from Malta.
The English built the Palace of St. Michael and Gabriel on Spianada, which is the Asian Museum today, ”the only monument of Georgian style on the Mediterranean”. The palace was the summer residence of the Greek royal family from 1846 to 1913. They had a cricket playground, ginger beer and ”the dullness for which they were not very popular”. The ”Liston” Palace, on the west side of Spianada, reminds us of the French, with a wonderful square and the best cafés ”on the porch” of this building. Byzantium left many churches but also the spirit of Orthodoxy. The people of Venice are deserving for the architecture and the charm of Corfu.
We certainly cannot mention all building, but we cannot miss the Achileon Palace, the amazing building of the Hungarian Queen Elizabeth, called Sisi, built between 1889 and 1891, renovated in 1962. One should not miss the beautiful museums of Corfu, among which the best are the Archaeological and the Byzantium Museum.

243.878 + 30.000

The Serbs came to Corfu in 1916, during the Great War as the remains of a nation. Some time before, betrayed by the their allies, with a declaration of a war, they were attacked by the Bulgarian people, and with a numerous German army against them, the withdrawn through the darkness of Albanian lands they survived an infernal suffering and 243.878 people didn’t survive the hunger, the cold, the treason and the attacks of bloodthirsty Albanian bands. Only 151 thousand people reached the Adriatic coast! Soldiers, women, children, the whole national elite, led by the old king and the young regent. The only man who stayed in occupied Serbia was the president of the ”Red Cross”.
Suffering on the Albanian side was continued, and allied ship for evacuation never came, despite the promises. They were never sent. If there was not for the ultimatum to the western powers from the Russian Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, and the announcement that Russia will come out of the war and sign a separate peace treaty with Germany if ”the remaining parts of the Serbian army” does not get evacuation and recovery, it would positively be the Serbian end. End kampf.
The French ships arrived shortly after that, but they first evacuated enemy prisoners and horses to Italy. After that they came back for the people. (No one really knows how many victims there were because of that delay.) They took them to Corfu, where they put them on a cold crag, an island ear the town. Until then, the crag was called the Island of Snakes, and since then, the Island of Death.
On that cold crag, during cold autumn and winter rains, without any protection a d care, near the town, more then 10 thousand Serbs died. While passing from the Albanian to the ally country, about 30 thousand of them lost their lives. They were first buried in shallow graves on the crag. When there was no place left. They buried them in the Blue Graveyard, in the bottom of the Ionian Sea.


While looking at the flower falling from your hand into the sea, the graveyard, the verses from the Blue Graveyard of Milutin Bojić (who was one of the survivors from Corfu) are echoing in your head, and the verses from the Blue Graveyard of Ivan V. Lalić, which was written some time later.
While the ship is entering the small pier, you don’t hear ”the sound of cameras, the sound of empty summer chats, you don’t hear ”the guide babbling about Nausicaa”, you don’t see ”idle tourists shooting boats, with straw hats on their heads”.
Vido, once a cold crag called the Island of Death, is now covered in woods and arranged. On the right from the pier you can reach the building made of white marble, walking on a concrete path. The mausoleum to Serbian heroes and martyrs was built by the young regent, in the last year of his life, in 1933, who later became king, Even today, the inscription on its entrance sound pretty cynical: ”To Serbian heroes ― Yugoslavia”.
You don’t sign the ”book of impressions”. You light a smelly candle on a white marble plate at the bottom of a mosaic with the Christ’s Crucifixion on it. With one look you keep the custodian from protest against your act. You cross yourself and you kiss the stone. You touch with your trembling hand the white marble walls on which, from top to bottom, names, years, ranks, units are all written. You close your eyes. You hear the sound of the candle.
Are you crying?! Oh, no, grit your teeth and bear it and hold your head up high. Let Serbia, which is resting there, walk where you did. She has no other way but her own, and you don’t have a better Serbia than this one.


Saint Spiridon
He was the Bishop of Cyprus and he took part on the First Council of Nicaea in 325. The miraculous relics of this great saint were kept in Constantinople until the fall in the 15th century. They were moved to Corfu in 1849. According to the legend, Saint Spiridon saved Corfu from the plague in 1553, from cholera in 1630 and 1673 but from the most dangerous Turkish siege in 1716. In the night before the Turkish attack, St. Spiridon appeared with a torch in his hand above the Turkish camp and he provoked a panic, which resulted with the withdrawal of the Turks and a defeat.
St. Spiridon is celebrated on December 12th, and his relics are kept in the Church off St. Spiridon whose tower dominates the old part of Corfu.


Corfu is one of the centers of good tourism. During six moths every year, the number of guests is two times bigger than the number of residents. Italians, Englishmen, Germans and Scandinavians visit it the most. In the last few years, there are a lot of Serbs, who usually stay in little town on the northeast of the island.


Serbian house
In the charming street Mostoksidou, typical for the old Corfu, in the number 19, stand the Serbian house, a memorial museum which was opened with the sponsorship of the Government of Serbia in the end of the 80’s of the 20th century. Besides the permanent exhibit, one can see the detailed and systematized historical image of the Serbian épopée on Corfu.


Relations between the Serbs and the people of Corfu are close and lasting. It is not only their roads and fates which crossed, but their blood as well. That is why Corfu has a Greek tavern called ”There, Far Away” or ”Great Serbia” and they won’t let you pay you lunch in a restaurant when they realize you are from Serbia. You can meet an old gentleman from Corfu who would describe you how he experienced the bombing of 1999, with tears in his eyes. (With the decision of the Mayor of Corfu, during the bombing of Serbia eight years ago, all NATO military activities were forbidden on this island, so that they wouldn’t be used against the Serbs.)



From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију