Kastrologos
Castles of Greece

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Vlacherna, Tripoli, Arcadia,Peloponnese

Bezeniko Castle

or Castle of Vlacherna  
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Bezeniko Castle
Location:
Vlacherna, on mount Menalon, Arcadia, central Peloponnese
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Peloponnese
Arcadia
Municipality > Town:
City of Tripoli
• Vlacherna
Altitude:
Elevation ≈ 1150 m 
(Relative Height≈200 m)
Time of Construction   Origin
14th century  
Late-BYZANTINE
H 
Castle Type   Condition
Castle  
In Ruins
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The village Vlaherna (old name: Bezeniko) is 32km northwest from the capital of Arcadia, Tripoli, at the foot of mountain Menalon (altitude: 954m).

East of the village, on a 1150m high steep rock, lies the castle of Bezeniko.

En route to the castle there is a picturesque monastery inside the rock (Agia Eleousa) and a unique chapel of Panagia Katafygiotissa inside a cave.


Location & Strategic Scope

The fort’s location was crucial for controlling the road connecting Mantineia and Elis


The Name of the Castle

There are several theories on the origin of the toponym “Bezeniko”. It appears under the form Pazeniki in a fifteenth-century text by Laonikos Chalkokondylis, and as Patzanika in an anonymus chronography. It is mentioned in a 1463 Venetian list of forts by the name Bocenico, and was known as Besenico in the last years of the Venetian period (1687-1715). Bezeniko is probably a Slavic word with references to water or the baneberry bush.

According to a theory, the name originates from Besius (380-400), a major-general in Stilicho’s army (of the West Roman Empire), who, defeated Alaric in 397 and the site took the name “Besenikos” to commemorate his victory.


History

The castle was probably built after the recapture of the area by the Byzantines of the Despotate of Mystras, i.e. in the 14th century.

In 1458, when Mohamed II started the conquest of Peloponnese, the castle resisted successfully. In 1826 another heroic defence is reported against the forces of Ibrahim pasha.


Structure, Fortification & Buildings

Built on a naturally fortified site, the castle is inaccessible on three sides. The Byzantines protected the more regular east side with a double fortification wall and tower. A single fortification wall was built on the north side, where there is sheer drop. The entrance gate is located on the south, protected by a rectangular tower. Left of the tower are traces of fortification walls. The walls are better preserved on the east side, where they follow the contour to its highest point and end in another tower.

The remains of houses and several water cisterns occupy the flat hilltop, which offers views across the Vlacherna plain to Mount Mainalo and, further away, the mountain peaks of Oligyrtos and Lyrkeio. The fortification wall’s Byzantine masonry uses local limestone, roof tiles, and lime plaster.


Sources

  • Φώτης Κόντογλου, "Ο ΚΑΣΤΡΟΛΟΓΟΣ", σελ.150, εκδόσεις ΑΡΜΟΣ, Αθήνα 2004 (Greek book)
  • Photos by Mr. Elias Tsarouxas
  • Website Holy Metropolis of Mantineia & Kynouria - Monastery of Panagia Eleousa Vlachernas

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Road map to Bezeniko Castle

Access
Approach to the monument:
Vlaherna is 32km from Tripoli, direction NW to Vytina and Levidi. From the village there is a dirt road to the monastery under the castle. From there, you have to walk.
Entrance:
Access is free


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