Castles of Greece


Amfissa, Delphi, Phocis,Central Greece

Castle of Amfissa

or Salona Castle  
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Castle of Amfissa
Amfissa, near Delphi, Central Greece
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Central Greece
Municipality > Town:
City of Delphi
• Amfissa
Elevation ≈ 225 m 
(Relative Height≈125 m)
Time of Construction   Origin
In various periods  
Castle Type   Condition
Not Good

The castle of Amfissa, also known as castle of Salona or castle of Oria, is situated on a rocky hill at 225m altitude above the city of Amfissa in Central Greece, close to Delphi.

It is built at the location of the ancient acropolis. What we see today from the castle are the remains of the castle built by the Franks in the 13th century, but there are also many elements from the Byzantine and the Ancient Greek period.


The castle has a rich and turbulent history which starts from the Pelasgians and the classical antiquity and reaches the years of the Greek Revolution. It was attacked, besieged, destroyed and repaired many times by Macedonians, Gauls, Visigoths, Huns, Bulgarians, Slavs, Franks, Catalans, Turks and others.

Amfissa was important in the classical period for a good reason: it was the closest city-state to Delphi which those days was the center of the world (for the Greeks, it was). It also had the advantage of a strong fortification. Parts of the walls of the ancient acropolis of the town date back between the 7th and the 6th century BC.

The most notable event in the ancient period was the complete destruction of the city and the acropolis by Philip II of Macedonia in 338 BC, for reasons that had to do with the people of Amfissa trying to mess with the Oracle of Delphi and its treasures.

The Amfissians managed to rebuild their town and later became a powerful member of the Aetolian League. When the Romans occupied the rest of Greece, Amfissa repelled their attacks and finally was allowed not to pay taxes to Rome.

In the early Middle Ages, Amfissa was devastated by several foreign peoples who invaded Greece. In 396 was destroyed by the Alarric’ Visigoths and in 448 by the Huns of Attila. In 530, Justinian I fortified the towns around the Crissaean plain and repaired the fortress of Amfissa, as part of his huge project of fortifications throughout the Empire.

Since the middle of the 9th century, new invaders, the Bulgars, raided the region of Phocis and sieged Amfissa several times, but the most damaging was in 996, when Samuel of Bulgaria destroyed the town and slaughtered its people. in 1059, Pechenegs besieged Amfissa one more time and forced the Amfissians to hide in caves of the region to avoid a massacre.

In 1205, after the Fourth Crusade and the establishment of the Latin Empire, Boniface of Montferrat, the Frank king of Thessaloniki, conquered the region of Central Greece. Amfissa became the seat of a lordship under Thomas I d'Autremencourt. It is then that the new governors built the powerful Castle of Salona on the hill where the ancient acropolis existed, while the ancient name of the town was replaced by the new name Salona, or La Sole in French and La Sola in Italian.

The Franks remained the lords of Amfissa until 1311. Then, in the battle of Cheronia, the Catalans defeated the Franks and conquered Central Greece including the Ducy of Athens and, together with other regions, Salona.

The Catalan occupation lasted until 1397. The most notable rulers of this era were Alfonso Federico de Sicilia, a powerful man who had made a career as a leader of the Catalan Company and Vicar of the Duchy of Athens, and his grandson Lluís Frederic d'Aragó. The latter reigned between 1362 and 1382 and was popular among his Greek subjects. After his death in 1382, his widow, the Byzantine princess Helen Frederic-Kantakouzene ruled until 1397.

The widow was an efficient governor, but, at the end, she fell in love with a corrupt priest, Papa-Stratos, who gathered too much power. His actions provoked the Greek population, and the Orthodox bishop Serafeim called the Turks for help.

The Ottomans captured Amfissa in 1397. In 1402 the castle and the city passed under the control of the Despotate of Mystras. The Byzantines were not able to hold it in those difficult years and sold it to the knights of the Order of St.John (of Rhodes).

The Turks returned in 1410, captured the castle again, and this time stayed for a few centuries, with a short break of independence under Venetian control from 1687 to 1698.

In the 18th century, Salona became the center of preparations for the war against the Ottoman Turks in Central Greece, due to its strategic location and its proximity to the klephts of Giona and Parnassus mountains.

In the Greek War of Independence, Salona was the first town of Central Greece to revolt. On March 27, 1821, the warlord Panourgias invaded the town and on April 10 the Greeks captured the Castle of Salona, the first fortress which fell in Greek hands, and killed the six hundred people of the Ottoman garrison.

The Turks recaptured briefly the castle in 1825 and the again in 182 6and stayed until 1829 when they surrendered to the Greeks.


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Approach to the monument:

  • 7th or 6th cent. BC: Ancient acropolis exists
  • 338 BC.: Complete destruction by the Macedonians
  • 190 BC. Unsuccessful siege by the Romans
  • 396 AD.: Looting by the Visigoths
  • 448 AD: Looting by the Huns
  • 6th cent. : Repairs during the reign of Justinian
  • 996 : Massacre by the Bulgars
  • 1059: Pechenegs raid
  • 1204: Frankish occupation & castle reconstruction
  • 1210: Seizure by the Despotate of Epirus
  • 1215: Return of the Franks
  • 1311: Catalan overlords
  • 1397: Capture by the Turks
  • 1402: Part of the Despotate of Mystras
  • 1410: Conquest by the Turks
  • 1687: Independence under Venetian control
  • 1699: Karlovic treaty & return of the Turks
  • 1821: Liberation of the castle of Salona
  • 1826: Recapture by the Turks
  • 1829: Surrender of the Castle to the Greeks

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