Gouvia in Corfu
Gouvia is a village at Govino Bay in Corfu, Greece. It’s about 8 km (5 miles) north of Corfu town. The village with its 600 inhabitants, was built on the site of an ancient Venetian harbour. Gouvia boasts the largest marina on Corfu island and is extremely active during the summer months welcoming many tourists from across the globe.
Its position in a natural harbour made it the perfect location for a shipyard. Used during the Venetian occupation of the island where they built an arsenal in the village. The remains of which can still be visited. Gouvia village has a Greek Orthodox church, named ‘All Saints’ and there is a great selection of bars, restaurants, and taverns along the main street. The small bay with its beach and volleyball courts and water sports offering is popular with both locals and visitors alike and offers a great view of the opposite peninsula.
Gouvia as a part of history
Near the opening of the Adriatic Sea, Corfu was a very strategic location for Venice. The Venetians constructed extensive fortifications to defend the island against raids and the island was also at the centre of its naval operations. As part of their defence plans, the Venetians stationed two divisions in Corfu. One of the twenty-five galleons the other of twelve heavy sailing ships. Two Venetian Vice Admirals oversaw the naval operations in Corfu, one for each division.
After the second great siege of Corfu by the Ottomans in 1716, the Venetians built the arsenal the remnants of which can still be seen today. The aim was to service their ships as well as to provide a fortified station for their ships at Govino Bayas, as part of their reinforcement of the defences of Corfu. The arsenal was also a storage place for their ships.
The shipyard at Gouvia was part of a network of Venetian arsenals and naval stations in Greece. Including shipyards in the Aegean Sea, Epirus, the Peloponnese, the Kingdom of Candia (present-day Crete), and even Venice itself. The Gouvia arsenal was in a strategic location for ship repairs as it was near a forested area and high-quality wood was plenty and easily available for ship maintenance.
It was a regular practice of the Venetian captains, who participated in the construction of the arsenal, to sign the buildings with their initials and emblems.
The end of the Venetian period
The arsenal at Gouvia was supposed to be used for ship repairs during the winter after each fleet had returned from their yearly campaign during peacetime. However, the Venetian Senate became alarmed at the possibility of an arsenal in such proximity to Venice. This could potentially compete with the central arsenal. To protect the operations of their local naval facilities, the Senate chose to limit the kind of repair activities happening at the Corfu shipyard. Consequently, the shipyard operations at Gouvia were only for basic maintenance. That led many captains, instead of repairing their damaged ships at the arsenal, to choose to sink them instead.
As time went on, the number of ships being serviced at the location declined. Any further use was officially stopped with the Treaty of Campo Formio, signed on 18 October 1798. This led to the end of the Venetian Republic. With it, came the end of the Venetian period of Corfu, which had lasted over 400 years.
In 2017, the regional director of the Ionian Islands approved the sum of €500,000 for the “rehabilitation and promotion of the Venetian arsenal at Gouvia”. These projects are the first for the Ionian Islands for the 2014-2020 fiscal year. They receive funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Greek government.
On 22 May 2016, to celebrate the restoration of lighting to the monument, the local cultural agency of Gouvia and the Greek Society for the Environment organized a concert at the arsenal where the Philharmonic Society of Corfu “Mantzaros” and the German choir “Dinkelsbühler Knabenkapelle” from Neumarkt, Germany performed.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Gouvia Marina is the first privately owned marina in Greece. It is one of the most famous marinas in the world, situated about 7 kilometres from the International Airport and a short walk from Spiti Prifti.
The marina is located in the Ionian Sea, in the Gateway of the Adriatic Sea. With great destinations within a short distance, such as Paxos, the Diapontian islands, and Syvota. Gouvia Marina is for sailors, a natural link between the Adriatic and the Mediterranean Sea. It is a port of call, where they can sail in, to relax and take on supplies while enjoying the climate and the beauty of the island!