Aghios Stefanos (Avliotes) is situated on the Northwest coast of Corfu. A wide stretch of sandy beach sweeps around a sparkling bay of calm and tranquil waters, enclosed on one side by cliffs and on the other by a traditional red-roofed village nestling in hills covered in Olive and Cypress trees. The resort is a haven for seekers of sun and tranquility. The ”blue flag” awarded beach with its crystal shallow waters is ideal for all ages. Although this is a relatively undiscovered resort there are plenty of quality tavernas and a couple of venues where the dancing continues into the small hours. Stroll along the cliffs to enjoy the stunning scenery and savour the smells of the wild thyme and jasmine, or alternatively relax by the harbour and see the fishing boats bringing in their catch of fish and lobsters. From there take a sunbathing, sightseeing and swimming boat trip to any of the 3 small islands – Mathraki, Othoni and Ereikoussa- (1/2 to 2 hr trips) to discover a forgotten world.
The village of Agios Stefanos or San Stefanos(St. Stephen) is located on the North Western tip of the island of Corfu. This is where the four Diapontian Islands (Othoni, Erikoussa, Mathraki and Diaplos) can be seen, while further away the Adriatic Sea is the natural frontier between Greece and Italy. Visitors to Agios Stefanos will have the chance to admire a unique view of the sunset by just walking or standing anywhere within this panoramic location.
Today, the touristic infrastructure is under careful development and some 12.000 tourists are accommodated in Agios Stefanos every summer. There are more than 20 restaurants and pubs where our guests may combine high quality enterainment together with the chance to taste delicious dishes from both Greek and international cuisine. There are also plenty of souvenir shops and supermarkets. The village is also served by a modern harbour from where boats sail regularly to every destination, including the Diapontian Islands.
However, less than thirty years ago Agios Stefanos was a small, traditional fishing village with a few houses, a beautiful church and a small picturesque harbour, which has since been replaced. There was also a quite wide and deep river that divided the beach into two. Today the river makes it to the sea only during the wintertime.
The history of Agios Stefanos begins some thousands of years ago, during the Stone Age (3.000-2.000 B.C.).
Our oral tradition speaks of a sunken city, about which the old fishermen knew and which is now lost somewhere in the open sea. It is also said that there lay, among the underwater ruins, ancient pillars and a great number of ancient pots.
The myth of the sunken city, the river and the small rock in the shape of a ship that lies near the Diapontian Islands, are mentioned by Homer in his Odyssey. Many people believe that here existed the famous city of the Phaeceans, on the coast of which Ulysses was washed ashore after his ship was sunk. He was then found by Nausica, the daughter of King Alcinoos, who offered him shelter for a few days and sent him back to his homeland, the island of Ithaca, in one of his own ships. But Poseidon, god of the seas, was full of rage against the Phaeceans, for helping his enemy, Ulysses and punished them by turning the ship into stone, just before it sailed back into the city’s harbour.
This history led the German archaeologist, Dorpfeld, to conduct excavations in the area of Agios Stefanos between 1912-1913 and the site of his search was visited by the German Emperor Wilhelm III. Those excavations may not have brought the city of Alcinoos to light, but they have revealed some very interesting Neolithic settlements. These findings are kept in the archaeological museum of the City of Corfu. More excavations were conducted again later by the archaeologist H. Bulle, in 1934 and Professor August Sordinas in 1964-1965, which confirmed the existence of prehistoric settlements in Agios Stefanos.
There is no information about Agios Stefanos during the Classical or the Roman period. Later in the Byzantine Era or under the Venetian occupation, the church of Agios Stefanos was built and the area was named after it. At that time the local people devised another story about the “stone ship”. They claimed that when the pirates came to loot the church of Agios Stefanos, which was built on the island of Diaplos, Saint Stephen to whom the church is dedicated was infuriated and punished them by turning their ship into stone! Because of the fear of pirates, the area of Agios Stefanos was not regularly inhabited. Only the inhabitants of the nearby inland village of Avliotes cultivated and sowed their fields here. In the 2Oth century, until 1974, pottery was manufactured using the traditional method which flourished thanks to the high quality of the clay of the area.
Unfortunately, the little church was deserted through the years. But in 1930 a young monk decided to rebuild it and to dedicate his life to it. Around the church of Agios Stefanos, feasts and festivals are organized every summer.
A small coffee shop was built next to the church in 1960… A few years later, the first hotel rose… The first British tourists arrived and the first British villa was built and was given the name “Quiet”…
In Greece every little place has a great history. This quiet corner of Greece is a part of the Greek history, which bears together the past and the present, myth and reality!