Castles of Greece


Nafplio, Nafplion, Argolis,Peloponnese


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Nafplion, Peloponnese
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Municipality > Town:
City of Nafplion
• Nafplio
Elevation ≈ 80 m 
Time of Construction   Origin
Various periods  
Castle Type   Condition
Walled City  

Rising above the old part of town, the Akronafplia fortress is the oldest of Nafplio's three castles, although it is less interesting than the other two forts. The lower sections of the walls date back to the Bronze Age. Until the arrival of the Venetians, the town was restricted to within its walls. The Turks called itİç Kale (meaning 'inner castle'). It was used as a Greek political prison from 1936-56.

Location & Strategic Scope

The castle is on the rocky penisula of Akronafplia which has been the walled town of Naflion from the classical period until the 15th century. Nafplion later expanded outside the rock, closer to the sea.

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

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

Current Condition

In good condition with many additional and modern elements.

Legends & Tales

Once past the moat, there were two gates into Acronauplia. They were both constructed of iron, but the second one was fashioned 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. Legend has it that the sword dripped blood every Friday to commemorate the city's capture on a Friday.

Tourist Info

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 a flash hotel complex from where you can access the fortress. 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.


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Road map to Akronafplia

Approach to the monument:
Ascension to the castle from various points in the city of Nafplio. Accessible by car, staircase and even an elevator!
Easily accessible from Nafplio with many points of entrance.

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