Photograph taken looking up to the Palamidi



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Rising above the old part of town, the Acronafplia fortress is the oldest of Nafplio's castles. The lower sections of the walls date back to the Bronze Age. Built on a rocky penisular Acronauplio was the walled city from ancient times until the end of the 15th century. Until the arrival of the Venetians, the town was restricted to within its walls.

Originally built by the Romans and Byzantines, the fortifications were strengthened by a succession of conquerors, including the Duke de La Roche of Athens, the Venetians, the Turks and then again the Venetians.

The old gateway to the fortress, crowned with a fine Venetian lion emblem, is at the top of Potamianou, the stepped street that heads uphill off Plateia Agios Spiridonos.

There were two main castles, a French one and a Greek one. Over time several more bastions were added to the three levels of the Acronafplio. There was no wall on the south or west sides; none was needed as it was a sheer drop to the sea.

Already on a peninsula Acronafplia was further separated from the mainland and protected by a moat. The bridge across the moat was built of both stone and wood.

The side furthest from the city was made of stone, while the side closest to the city was of wood. The wooden part could be removed at any time, taking away access to the city.

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The fortress is right at the entrance of the Argoliko Bay and connected to the mainland just north of the Arvanitias ravine

The Venetians continued the fortification of the upper town after taking it back from the Franks who controlled the city for 200 years, and completed their work.

During the Frankish period, the castle was divided into Roman (West) and Frankish (East). Various modifications and additions were made during the 1st and 2nd Venetian domination.

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The Castle includes the various areas of the "Roman Castle", the "Sagredo Gate - Clock Tower", "Tampane", the "Gambello Wall", the "Agora Anargyroi Hospital", the "Eastern Wall" Xenia 'and' Toronto and Grimani bastions'.

Once past the moat, there were two gates into Acronafplio. They were both constructed of iron, but the second one was built like a trap-door, lowered from the ceiling. This second door was decorated with an Arabian sword which belonged to the first janissary to cross the gate when the Turks captured the city in 1715.

There's a lift up to the fortress from Plateia Politiko Nosokomiou at the western edge of town - look for the flags at the entrance of the tunnel leading to the lift. It heads up to an Hotel from where you can walk into the fortress.

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Another defensive feature was a stronghold just behind the moat, with vaulted ceilings and underground passages. The passages were stocked with explosives, ready to be blown up if an attacking force were overhead.

In 1540 Acronafplio was under Turkish occupation, they did not make major structural changes, but strengthened the fortification with larger cannons and gave it its "Cale" in the city which means inner castle.

General Morizioni started from Tolo with the aim of liberating the Peloponnese from the Turks and recaptured Acronafplia in 1686.

The fierce battles had almost destroyed the city and so began a long period of reconstruction.

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In the the 1st and 2nd Venetian period of occupation the habitation of the site ceased and it became a fortress with extensive leveling of sections for the movement of the cannon.

Five cannon of the same size were added to reinforce its defense. To this day, they are known under the name (pente adelfia - five brothers.

Turkish sovereignty returned to Nafplion in 1715 to 1822 when the Venetians surrendered the city.

Nafplio was one of the first cities in Greece to win independence. On November 29th, 1822 a group of Greek rebels overpowered the Turks in Palamidi, and the next day the city celebrated its freedom.

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In 1470 the Venetians built a fort on the small island in the center of the harbor called the Bourtzi. To close the harbor the fort was linked by chains. The town was known as Porto Cadenza, meaning Port of Chains.

Acronafplio was used as a defensive fortress until the Greek revolution. After the liberation, in addition to the pre-existing barracks, the "Military Hospital" was built by I. Kapodistrias along with the church of Agioi Anargyroi, which contributed to the creation of a settlement nucleus for the hospital staff.

The demolition of the hospital, adjoining buildings and barracks took place gradually from 1960 to 1970.

There has been and is a great deal of renovation work being carried out in Acronafplio.


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The Palamidi is the fortress that dominates the city on a steep hill with the same name, 216m above Nafplio.

Between 1711 and 1714 the Venetians built the castle in an amazingly short time, and this is in fact the final fortress of importance the Venetians built outside their own country. It is also considered one of the most impressive.

Yet, in 1715, one year after completion, the Turks defeated the castle.

The Palamidi is very well preserved, and it is wonderful to walk on the worn stones, between the massive walls and buildings.

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The founder of the fortress was the Venetian Governor (Provveditore) of Nafplion Agostino Sagredo, and its construction was overseen by the engineers Giaxich and La Salle.

It consists of a complex of eight mutually reinforcing bastions, known as the Bastion of Aghios Andreas, where there is a chapel of that name; the Bastion of Miltiades, where the prison for those serving life sentences is located; the Bastion of Epameinondas, where the fortress's main gate is situated; the Bastion of Robert, in honor of the French Philhellene who fell in battle in Athens; the Bastion of Leonidas; the Bastion of Themistocles; the Bastion of Fokion; and the Bastion of Achilles.

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The fortress commands an impressive view over the Argolic Gulf, the city of Nafplio and the surrounding countryside.

According to an inscription, the first bastion to be built was the Bastion of Aghios Andreas, followed by the others in a radiating arrangement that followed the terrain. The flawless construction of the fortress, the wealth of materials used, and specific formal characteristics such as its low height and the width of the walls, which could withstand the force of gunpowder, incorporate the experience acquired down to the 18th century, making Palamidi an amazing achievement of military architecture.

The total of eight bastions are self contained so that if one of them was breached, the rest could continue their defence.

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There are 913 steps in the winding stair from the town to the fortress. Although it is widely documented that there are 999 steps this is not true as I counted every one of them walking down. Climbing up them I did not have the breath to count. However, to reach the top of the fortress there are over one thousand steps.

The main bastion of San Andreas, was the garrison headquarters and was the finest equipped. Here is the church of St. Andrea, originally dedicated to San Gerardo, the patron saint of the family of Sagredon. Note that the names of the bastions were changed depending on who held the fort.

Apart from the bastion of San Andreas, the Venetians built the battlements of Leonidas and Miltiadis to the north, the northwest bastion Robert, Themistocles to the south and Achilles to the east.

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The bastion Epameinondas was completed during the Turkish Domination, while bastion Fokion constructed entirely by the Turks. Note that during Turkish Domination, Christians were not allowed to enter the fortress.

Each bastion has a water reservoir, storerooms for ammunition and food, gunports and embrasures, and as appropriate, moats, machicolations, "murder holes", outer retaining walls, barracks, etc. The bastions are joined by a wall to protect defenders from enemy fire.

The exception is the Bastion of Miltiades, which stands as an autonomous unit within the walls.

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The Bastion of Aghios Andreas is the oldest bastion on the hill. Above its gate is preserved a built-in relief with the lion, the symbol of Mark the Evangelist, patron of Venice, and a marble slab with the founding inscription of the Provveditore Agostino and the date of construction of the fortress 1712. In its courtyard was built the chapel of Aghios Andreas, a one-room structure, its eastern half built into the wall. It was originally dedicated to San Girardo, the patron saint of the Sagredo family.

A square room beside the church, that most likely served as a powder magazine, has been called the "prison of Kolokotronis" since the early 20th century but it is thought that he was actually held in the Miltiades Bastion. Theodoros Kolokotronis was the Greek Commander in Chief who fought in the Greek Revolution against the Turks, he was imprisoned after being charged with high treason and condemned to death during the Regency.

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The Bastion of Leonidas is a small table-shaped bastion, with a large, double cistern on the north and barracks on the east. Its position was crucial for protecting the eastern side of Palamidi, given that this bastion rose facing the only field on which strong enemy artillery could be deployed.

The Bastion of Miltiades is five-sided bastion with access from the west and a deep moat on the south and east. It was used as a prison, it contained the three-story Governor's building, cells for those condemned to life imprisonment, and areas for the execution of those condemned to death.

The Bastion of Epameinondas is a small, five-sided bastion with rows of cannon on its eastern side. This bastion was unfinished when the fortress was taken by the Ottomans (1715), who completed its construction on the basis of the plans of the Venetian engineers.

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Ottoman emblems of triumph have been built into the exterior of the bastion: a turban, a saber, and a mace; there was an inscribed Turkish plaque (lost today) above the gate of the bastion. The Ottomans named this bastion Seytan tabya, i.e. the devil's bastion, since they considered it the fortress's most vulnerable.

Nafplio was one of the first cities in Greece to win independence. On November 29th, 1822 a group of Greek rebels overpowered the Turks in Palamidi, and the next day the city celebrated its freedom.

At noon on 30th November, once the debris had been hastily cleared away from the abandoned chapel, which had been consecrated to St Gerardo, a service of thanks and praise was held and the chapel has since then been consecrated to the Apostle Andreas, as his feast day is celebrated on this day; the day Nafplio became Greek.

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From then on, every year on this date the liberation of the city is celebrated with a service in this historic chapel.

In 1823 it became the capital of the state which was then recognized by the world powers (England, France and Russia) in 1827 and in January of 1828 Ioannis Kapodistrias was recognized as the first governor and arrives in Nafplio.

In 1831 King Otto was chosen as the first King of Greece but a month later Kapodistrias was murdered at the Church of Agios Spiridon. In 1833 the King arrived amid great fanfare to the city of Nafplio where he remained until 1834 when the capital of Greece was moved to Athens.

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Palamidi can be accessed in 2 ways, by climbing up the 913 steps. Check on the opening times before you begin the climb!! Better to start fairly early in the morning and take water, good shoes and a hat. Or by driving up to the back of the fortress via 25 Martiou Street.

Opening Times : Winter: 8.30-15.30 From 1/3/2019 to 31/3/2019 : 8.30-16.00.

Summer: April: 08.00-19.00 May-August: 08:00-20:00 September: 08.00-19.00 October: 08.00-18.00

Tickets - Full: €8, Reduced: €4