8 Greece castles with unique history
10 May 2023

8 Greece castles with unique history

Almost in every small or large place in island or continental Greece we will find castles. Each of them has its own unique history which does not involve princes, but soldiers who fought battles to protect their land.

1. Castle of Platamonas

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It is a 10th century castle town built first to protect the area from pirate raids and secondly to protect the entrance to Macedonia.The octagonal tower of 18 meters is impressive. It was ceded by Boniface Mompferatiko to the Venetians. It was captured in 1244 by Theodore Komnenos Duke until its fall to the Ottomans. It passed back to the Venetians in 1425 and after a siege in 1427 it again came under Ottoman rule, which facilitated their capture of Thessaloniki in 1430. The outer walls are preserved in very good condition and are 9.5 metres high and 2 metres thick. Inside you will find the church of Agia Paraskevi and an impressive cistern.


2. Castle - Fortress of Kavala

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It is a reference point in the city of Kavala.  It was built mainly in the 15th century on the site of the Byzantine Acropolis that was destroyed in the 14th century, incorporating old buildings in its construction. Due to its strategic location it could easily control the Egnatia Street. In the history of the castle there is its passage to both the Venetians and the Ottomans. Within the walls admire the circular tower, with a panoramic view of the city, the outposts, the ammunition area and the water tank. At the end of the 17th century it was converted into a prison.  The fortress was purchased in the early 20th century by the Egyptian Hegemon Abbas Khilmi to establish an Industrial and Craft School there, but this never materialized and in the 1960s the municipality of Kavala bought it from the Egyptian Vaqufi Organization for the sum of 70,000 drachmas.


3. Chlemucci Castle - Clermont

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It is located in the village of Kastro in the region of Ilia. It was built in the 13th century for the protection of the Frankish principality of Achaia and because of the Frankish group Clermont, a corruption of the name is Chlemoutsi. In the early 14th century it passed briefly into the hands of the Catalans, then again to the Franks until the early 15th century when it passed to Charles Tockos, Count of Kefalonia and Despot of Epirus, who gave it as a dowry to Constantine Palaiologos when he married Tockos' daughter. Thirty-three years later it was conquered by the Ottomans and in 1867 by the Venetians, while in 1715 it again fell into the hands of the Turks who kept it until the Revolution of 21.It is one of the best preserved castles in Greece as an excellent example of fortress architecture of the Frankish era in the Peloponnese.  The castle also houses a museum, whose permanent exhibition "The Age of the Knights - The Crusaders in Moria", includes more than 500 objects, dating from the 13th to the 15th century A.D. The collection of medieval pottery is excellent and the richest in Greece.


4. Castle of Nafpaktos

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Above the town and the port of Nafpaktos there is the castle of the town with its long history. The first phase of the fortification dates back to the 5th century BC. It continues in the Byzantine period which incorporates parts of the early years into the fortification. Its total area is 175 acres and its perimeter is 2,250 m. This castle was also occupied by the Venetians and then by the Ottomans. It has 5 fortified enclosures that start from the acropolis and end at the thallas. Within the walls you will also see the 19th century chapel of Prophet Elias, built on the foundations of an older three-aisled medieval Byzantine basilica. The view to the city and the coast of the Peloponnese as well as to the bridge of Rio is unique.


5. Castle of Pylos or Nyokastro

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Built by the Ottomans in 1573 after their defeat at the naval battle of Nafpaktos.  Apart from its fortification protection, it also gave the Ottomans control of trade. Between 1686 and 1715 it passed into the hands of the Venetians and a few years later it was captured by Russian officials, the Orlov brothers. In 1821 it was captured by the Greeks, but four years later it passed into the hands of Ibrahim. After the Battle of Navarino, Ibrahim abandoned it and it became a prison when the city of Nafpaktos was moved outside the walls. They have bastions, with the most important ones facing the sea to protect the entrance and the harbour. The acropolis section had six five-sided bastions and almost sixty cannons, while above the entrance to the castle there was a zemateistra. Within the castle there are now some ruins of houses and other buildings and the mosque, which has been converted into the church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour.


6. Mytilene Castle

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One of the most beautiful castles. It is a Byzantine castle built on the site of the ancient acropolis of the island.It is one of the largest castles in the Mediterranean and covers an area of about 60 acres.Today, a Byzantine pillar, the eastern wall of the central fortification enclosure and the reservoir are preserved. In 1355 the island of Lesvos was given as a dowry to the sister of the Emperor John V Palaiologos on her marriage to Francisco Gattelusio, who began to renovate it, but the strong earthquake of 1384 was devastating both for the town and the castle. In 1462 the Ottomans occupied the castle and made additions, mainly to the fortified towers. It was inhabited until shortly after the Second World War and in the 1970s it was converted into a monument.


7. Fragokastello

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The peculiarity of this castle is characteristic because it is not located in an acropolis, but parallel to the homonymous beach of Sfakia. It was built in the 14th century by the Venetians to protect the coast from pirate raids. It is said that the Venetians built the castle during the day and at night the Sfakian brothers, led by the Patsos brothers, demolished it, until they were finally executed and continued building it. This castle has a bloody history. In May 1828 during the Greek Revolution, Mustafa Naili Pasha besieged the castle where the chieftain Hatzimichalis Dallianis had barricaded himself with about 700 men. Naili Pasha blew up the fortress. Those who were not killed were surrendered to Naili Pasha. But for strategic reasons, a few years later, he was forced to repair the fortress. According to popular tradition, in some years towards the end of spring, in the early morning hours when the humidity is highest, the phenomenon known as "Drosulites" is observed. The 'Drosoulites' are anthropomorphic black-clad shadows that walk or ride horses. They are said to be the ghosts of the dead warriors of Hadjimichalis Dalianis, who were killed in the battle against Mustafa Naili Pasha on May 17, 1828.


8. Castle of Astypalea

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The castle of Astypalaea dominates the highest hill of Chora. It was built by the Venetian Querini on an ancient citadel to protect the inhabitants from pirates. It passed into the hands of the Turks in 1540. In several places the walls were interspersed with dwellings and the windows of the dwellings played the role of battlements. Until the 19th century it was the only settlement on the island. After the liberation and the elimination of the pirates, the inhabitants began to build houses outside the walls. After 1943 it begins to be abandoned and after the strong earthquake of 1956 there is no one left. Inside the castle there are still two churches, the Church of Our Lady of the Castle, built in 1853, on the site of the Quirini mansion, and the Church of St. George, built in 1790.