Corfu Town (Kerkyra) is a principal port and the largest town in the Ionian islands. It is built between two Venetian castles, having its own unique atmosphere. It is a thriving mass of shops and businesses, set amongst a captivating and charming assortment of elegant buildings, churches, imposing fortresses and narrow alleyways leading to hidden squares. The tall buildings with the 'volta' (arches), the 'cantounia' (narrow flagstoned streets), the 'mouragia' (sea-walls) are showing all a clear Italian influence. One of the most beautiful walks in the town is around the Esplanade (Spianada square), one of the biggest squares in Europe which is the hub of the Corfiot's life. Here you can walk around or sit in one of the many cafe bars underneath the arches of the 'Liston', a name probably derived from a similar promenade in Venice. Liston was built during the imperial French occupation and is reminiscent of the larger 'Arcades' of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. On the upper side of Esplanade stands a memorial to the British Lord High Commissioner Sir Thomas Maitland, built in 1816 in the shape of a circular building with Ionian columns. The Corfiots call this building 'sterna' (cistern) because this was where the entrance to the largest underground cistern of the town was to be found. Near the Maitland's monument, in front of the building where the Ionian Academy was housed, stands the statue of John Capodistrias, the first President of Greece. It is a work from the end of the 19th century showing the Governor standing deep in thought. Opposite the Liston is the the Old Fortress and 'Anthonas', the Municipal Gardens. In the gardens is the statue of Lord Guilford, showing the founder of the Ionian Academy in his academic robes holding an open book. Nearby are the busts of two famous Corfiots, the poet Lorenzo Mavilis and the writer Dinos Theotokis. At the northern end of Esplanade stands the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, one of the most elegant buildings in Corfu. Opposite the west front of the palace is a beautiful building which now houses the Reading Society of Corfu, the oldest cultural institute in modern Greece, founded in 1836. The Reading Society contains a unique library of Greek and foreign books as well as a large collection of manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, paintings, maps and engravings mostly related to the Ionian islands. As one's gaze leaves the Esplanade, after lingering on the palace, it embraces a magnificent view towards the coastal road (Arseniou Street) with its sea-walls. Following along this road will take you to the Old Harbour of Corfu and the other Venetian castle, the one called the New Fortress. Along this road the narrow lanes ('cantounia') lead to the Campielo, the oldest quarter of the town. Here the visitor can find the oldest houses and many of the historic churches in Corfu. At the northern end of Capodistria Street stands the Capodistria Mansion, an excellent example of neo-classical architecture. It was built in 1835 by the Corfiot architect John Chronis and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Greece. Here John Capodistrias, the first President of Greece, was born. Another notable landmark in the old town is the central market. The most interesting street here is Nickiforou Theotoki as the rows upon rows of 'volta' standing on their stone columns and the tall buildings form one of the most characteristic aspects of Corfu Town. In a little square on Nickiforou Theotoki Street stands the building of the Ionian Bank, which was built in 1846 displaying a well-proportioned facade with finely detailed Ionian pilasters and pediment. On the first floor of the building the Paper Money Museum is housed. At the far end of the square is the Church of St. Spyridon. It shelters the body of St. Spyridon, the patron saint of Corfu and one of the great Saints of Greek Orthodoxy and draws a constant stream of pilgrims from all over Greece every year. On the Evgeniou Voulgareos Street stands the crenellated belfry of the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation a venerable building from the end of the 14th century. The whole building was destroyed in the World War II bombing, and the only remains are the belfry, two inscriptions and a bas-relief representing war trophies. Between Evgeniou Voulgareos Street and a modern square stands the most elegant of the Venetian buildings in Corfu, the Town Hall in baroque style. At the end of Moustoxydi Street stands another building of the period of British rule, the historic the Ionian Parliament. At the junction of the Garitsa coastal road and Alexandras Avenue stands the Douglas Obelisk, which also belongs to the same period, erected in honour of the Lord High Commissioner Sir Howard Douglas, to whom Corfu owes a lot of public works and philanthropic institutions.