The history of the Old Fortress dates back to 6th century AD, when the inhabitants of the ancient town of Corfu at the Kanoni peninsula began gradually moving to the naturally fortified peninsula of the Old Fortress. There was developed the medieval town Koryfo, from which derived the name of the island. Due to the restricted of the peninsula the town expanded to the west. There the xopoli (outer town) or borgo was developed, which later on grew to be the main town of Corfu.
The Byzantines and later on the Angevins of Sicily (1267-1386) fortified the peninsula of the Old Fortress. Nevertheless the preserved fortifications of the Old Fortress as a well as the old town’s fortifications as are mostly attributed to the Venetians (1386-1797).
Within Venetians’ first defensive works was the separation of the Old Fortress’s peninsula by means of a sea moat (fossa) and the creation of a zone than remained unbuilt for defensive reasons to the west of the fortress (spianata).
Following the destructive Ottoman siege of 1537, the Venetians once again modernized Corfu’s fortifications. The great Veronese architect Michele Sanmicheli and his nephew Gian Gerolamo Sanmicheli gave the Old Fortress its characteristic form in accordance with the principals of the Bastion System. At that time the emblematic western front with the two bastions, the intervening wall and the gate were erected. Initially the last part of the bridge was lifted, detaching the fortress from the land. A short time later Cape Kavosidero at the northeast end of the peninsula was also walled, as a shelter for the civilians in case of siege.
During the period of the British protectorate (1815-1864), large scale interventions were made at the site of the Old Fortress with the construction of new buildings, chiefly military in character.