Castles of Greece


Daphni, Chaidari, Athens,Attica

Fortification of Dafni Monastery

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Fortification of Dafni Monastery
Athinon avenue in Chaidari, 11km from the center of Athens to Eleusis
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Municipality > Town:
City of Chaidari
• Daphni
Elevation ≈ 115 m 
(Relative Height≈0 m)
Time of Construction   Origin
13th century  
Castle Type   Condition
Not Good

The monastery of Daphni is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in Greece. Moreover is surrounded by fortification walls, hence its presence in this site.

The monastery is Byzantine, built in the 11th century but the fortification was constructed much later during the Frankish occupation of Athens, that is why the 'castle' is classified as “Frankish”.


Daphni or Dafni (Greek: Δαφνί) is a Byzantine monastery, 11 km north-west of central Athens in the suburb of Chaidari, south of Athinon Avenue (GR-8A). It is situated near the forest of the same name, on the ancient Sacred Way, the road to Eleusis.

The Daphni Monastery was founded around 1080 AD at the site of the Sanctuary of Apollo Daphnaios that had been desecrated by the Visigoths in 395 AD, and reusing the Ionic columns of the ancient temple of Apollo in its portico; only one remains, the others having been removed to London by Lord Elgin.

After the church was sacked by the Crusaders in 1204-1205, the Burgundian Otho de la Roche, Duke of Athens, gave it to the Cistercian monastic order. The French monks had the exonarthex reconstructed, built a wall around the monastery and effected numerous other changes until the Ottomans expelled them and returned the monastery to an Orthodox community in 1458.

Gradually, the impoverished cloister fell into disrepair. The monastery was disbanded by Ottoman authorities in 1821 on the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, but restoration work did not commence until 1888.

It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1990.

Heavily damaged by the 1999 Athens earthquake, Daphni Monastery is currently closed to the public for restoration.

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

The layout of the fortification was a square. The length of each side was 97 m and the height of the walls was 8m. There were several square towers along the curtain walls, three of which still remain today at the northern side which is the better preserved part of the fortification.

There were two gates, one at the east and one at the west side which was the main gate.


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