Its a hot day in Corfu Town, something in the region of 100 degrees out in the open, in the narrow streets of the Venetian old town its stifling, we wander for a bit, I take some photos, we sit down at a bar and are charged nearly four euros for a half litre of beer, we decide to go to a nice cool place that has served Greek royalty as a nice cool place for nearly two hundred years, The Palace of St. Michael and St. George.
For many years it served as the residence of the British High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands until this country handed the island back to the Greeks at which point the Greek Royal Family snaffled the building for themselves even thought hey didn’t use it very much, preferring another palace of theirs elsewhere in Corfu, royal families are the same the world over, give them a palace or two and they start comparing them.
Meanwhile in the 1920s there existed a Greek Ambassador by the name of Gregorios Manos who had dedicated the whole of his life to collecting examples of Chinese and Japanese art and artifacts spending all of his spare time and money in auction houses buying up anything that fell under the vague banner of “Oriental Art”, so much stuff did he buy during his lifetime that he realised at the end of his working career that he was virtually bankrupt and with retirement from public service looming and no way of supporting himself financially he threw himself at the Greek governments mercy by offering his entire collection of over 10,000 items of important (some world important) Asian art in return for a state provided pension.
The Greek government agreed, the Corfu Royal Palace was going spare and so was born the Museum of Asian Art .
Gregorios Manos died twelve months later – now thats what I call a bargain.
The Palace of St Michael and St George