The Obelisk of Douglas, also known as the “Column of Douglas”, is located along the seashore boulevard of Garitsa Bay. It is a monument dedicated to the English Lord High Commissioner Howard Douglas.
General Sir Howard Douglas, who was born in 1776 in England, was a British aristocrat and military commander who served as an English army general, author, colonial administrator, and Member of Parliament for Liverpool. He served as Lord High Commissioner of the United States of the Ionian
Islands from 1835 to 1841.
He was the fourth commissioner in a row to serve during the British Protectorate of the Ionian Islands. Despite refusing to accept any of the constitutional modifications offered by the 4th Ionian Parliament, he was instrumental in building several notable public buildings and the founding numerous charitable organizations.
The erection of various roads on the island of Corfu, the construction of a mental hospital, a poorhouse and a jail building, the foundation of the Ionian High School and the Ionian Bank, as well as the operation of a telegraph office, were among his most important achievements. The Catholic and Orthodox cemeteries were also created by him. He also established a new law code, among other improvements.
In 1843, the Corfiots chose to memorialize him with a commemorative obelisk in the Upper Square of Spianada, just across from the present placement of Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias’ statue. Ground subsidence forced it to relocate in 1907, and it is now being rebuilt by contractor Andreas Sgouros. Bombing during the last war caused significant damage, although it was eventually restored. Garitsa’s shoreline was constructed in its current condition between 1956 and 1963.
The obelisk is composed of marble and is around seven meters tall. The engraved bronze images on the base of the Douglas Obelisk are the work of engraver Ioannis Vaptistis Kalosgouros, who is of Corfiot heritage.
On one side, you can see a female figure, Corfu personified, sitting on a rock with a trireme in the backdrop and grasping an olive branch, a symbolic image of Corfu. On the second side, there is the Commissioner’s coat of arms, and on the third side, you can see a diadem. The fourth side of the Douglas Column bears an inscription written in ancient Greek by Christoforos Filitas, Professor of Philosophy at the Ionian Academy. This inscription commemorates the benefactions bestowed to Corfu by the Commissioner.
Sir Howard Douglas was given a seat in the British Parliament by the Queen as a prize for his services after his retirement from the office of Commissioner of the Ionian Islands on July 7, 1841.
The “Douglas Column,” as the locals affectionately refer to it, has managed to give the region its name as a landmark, while Howard Douglas has left his mark on the island’s history.
Photo credits:Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain, Corfu Perspectives Guided Tours