Greece, with its rich, long history, is not only adorned with various monuments and archaeological sites, but also with more than 800 hundred castles, fortresses and castle-towns. While a great part of them may be in ruins today, there are still quite a few surviving and classified as among the best-preserved buildings of Europe, reminiscent of their epic past and great tales!
One of Greece’s most impressive castles, the Castle of Methoni is a 13th century Venetian fortified structure that served as a major commercial and transportation hub in the eastern Mediterranean through the centuries.
Arguably one of the most unique castles in the region, it boasts an arched stone bridge connecting it to the shore. The castle itself sits on a rocky peninsula surrounded by turquoise, clear waters, and is a popular destination amongst culturally desirous visitors and photography aficionados.
Home to a convent where visitors can admire stone-carved tombs within its fortified structure, the Castle of Koroni is a breathtaking example of 13th century Venetian architecture. Towering above Cape Akritas, it boasts a long history and two beautiful churches that have stood the test of time and can still be visited today.
Located in the Peloponnese, the building belongs to the Venetian period and it was built in 1714 over three years. Known as Palamidi, the Castle of Nafplio is an immense, well-maintained construction, probably the finest example of the Venetian fortifications in the country.
Known as Palamidi, the Castle of Nafplio, with its typical Baroque style, sits on a 216-meter high Peloponnesian hill overlooking the Gulf of Argolis. An immense, well-maintained construction, probably the finest example of Venetian fortifications in Greece, it was built in 1714 to become eventually one of the most popular sites for Athenians looking for a short city-break.
The best way to describe Monemvasia is that of a rock that has fallen from the sky; the best way to experience it is to spend a night on the Byzantine castle sitting atop its plateau!
Adorned with one of the most important medieval fortress-cities in the country, and home to one of the prettiest castles in the world, Monemvasia is a romantic destination comparable only to Santorini. The fortress and town date all the way back to 583 AD and their long history is more than evident on its little paved streets, arched buildings and scattered canons.
Byzantine Mystras is a fortified town on Mt. Taygetos, west of Ancient Sparta, adorned with a 13th century castle so beautiful that it is currently listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by a Frankish noble, it helped bridge the Greek and Frankish cultures and gave rise to unique art influenced by both societies.
While inhabited until the late 19th century, it was eventually abandoned by its remaining few inhabitants who moved to the much newer and more promising city of modern Sparta.
Wander around the ruins of the upper, lower and outer city, and discover the plethora of Byzantines churches decorated with some of the most beautiful frescoes surviving today!
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights, Rhodes
Also known as the Knights’ Castle, this is the single most important structure left by the Ioannite Knights. Built in the 14th century on top of a pre-existing Byzantine citadel, its history is as long as its beautifully preserved walls! Through the course of time it has served as military headquarters, an Ottoman fortress and a holiday residence by King Victor Emmanuel II and even by Benito Mussolini himself. Thankfully, nowadays it is classified as an UNESCO site and is open to visitors from around the world to enjoy.
Mesta of Chios
A fine example of the 14th century Genoan period of Chios Island, the castle of Mesta adorns this picturesque mastic village on one of the country’s historically richest islands. Its architectural disposition is made of narrow alleys designed as a maze to ward off pirates with the help of its surrounding walls. Beautifully preserved and uniquely shaped as a pentagon, this fortified settlement is definitely worth visiting.
Proudly sitting atop a 5th Century BCE acropolis on a hill overlooking the island, the castle of Mithymna was erected by Byzantines and Genoans as far back as the 1300’s. Don’t miss the beautiful sunset overlooking Molyvos Bay, an unequivocally mystical experience.
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