Kastrologos
Castles of Greece

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Geraki, Evrotas, Laconia,Peloponnese

Castle of Geraki

  
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Castle of Geraki
Location:
Geraki, Laconia, at SE Peloponnese
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Peloponnese
Laconia
Municipality > Town:
City of Evrotas
• Geraki
Altitude:
Elevation ≈ 400 m 
(Relative Height≈100 m)
Time of Construction   Origin
1250  
FRANKISH
H 
Castle Type   Condition
Fortress-state  
Not Good
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The castle of Geraki was built on a low hill of the southeastern slopes of Parnon mountain, close to the modern Geraki village,39km from Sparta, by the Franks.

It was one of the most important castles of Peloponnese once, but it is in ruins today. The most notable characteristic is that many Byzantine churches are preserved, to a degree, inside and in the nearby medieval settlement.


History

After the fall of Constantinople in 1204, most of Peloponnese became a Frankish territory, the Principality of Achaea. The Franks divided it in 12 baronies. Geraki was the seat of one of them.

In 1209, Geraki was granted to the French Guy de Nivelet, who built the castle there, probably around 1250. Nivelet was the one who named it "Geraki" (Gr. for "falcon"). The place was known since antiquity as "Geronthrai".

The Franks did not stay long, though. In 1262, they had to surrender the area and the castle to the Byzantines, together with other important castles, like Mystras, after their defeat in the battle of Pelagonia in 1259.

The Byzantines were there for 200 years. In this period, it became one of the main medieval cities of Peloponnese.

In 1460, Geraki was captured by the Turks who had taken the whole region including Mystras, under the leadership of Mohamed II the Conqueror himself.

Just 3 years later, in 1463, The Venetians occupied Geraki but left in 1468 and the Turks came back.

Sometime in the 15th or the 16th century the castle and the medieval settlement were abandoned and the population moved lower, to the modern village which became the new center of the region.

The absence of Turkish or Venetian traces in the castle allow us to guess that the castle (the acropolis) was abandoned soon after the arrival of the Turks. After that, the settlement declined and was gradually deserted. This procedure usually takes some decades.


Structure, Fortification & Buildings

The list of the main monuments in the castle as presented in the website of the Greek Ministry of Culture:

In the castle

  • Church of St. George. Three-aisled basilica with a narthex, decorated with wall paintings dated to the 14th century.
  • Church of Our Lady Zoodochos Pighi (the Life-giving Source). Aisleless church with wall paintings dated to the 15th century.
  • Church of St. Paraskevi. Cross-vaulted church, decorated with wall paintings of the 15th century.
  • "Pera Ecclesies" (Far Churches). Church of Prophet Elijah, aisleless, with wall paintings dating from the 15th century; church of the Epiphany, cross-vaulted, with wall paintings dating from the 13th century; church of the Taxiarches (the Archangels), cross-vaulted, with wall paitnings dated to the 15th century.

In the settlement

  • Church of Evangelistria (Our Lady of the Annunciation). Aisleless, cross-in-square church, decorated with wall paintings of the 12-13th centuries.
  • Church of Saint Sozon. Domed, four-column, cross-in-square church, probably built in the 12th century. The interior is decorated with wall paintings dated to the 13th century.
  • Church of St. Athanassios. Domed, four-column, cross-in-square church, probably built in the 12th century. The interior is decorated with wall paintings dated to the 13th century.
  • Church of St. Nicholas. Two-aisled church, decorated with wall paintings dating from the end of the 13th century.
  • Church of St. John Chrysostomos. Aisleless church with two layers of wall paintings, dated to the end of the 13th-beginning of the 14th century, and the middle of the 15th century.

Sources

  • Pictures from mywinterinvillagegreece.blogspot.gr/
  • Website ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ - Greek Ministry of Culture Geraki
  • Άννα-Μαρία Σιμάτου-Ροζαλία Χριστοδουλοπούλου, "ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΣΕΙΣ ΣΤΟΝ ΜΕΣΑΙΩΝΙΚΟ ΟΙΚΙΣΜΟΤΟΥ ΓΕΡΑΚΙΟΥ", Δελτίον XAE 15 (1989-1990), Περίοδος Δ'• Σελ. 67-88 ΑΘΗΝΑ 1991 (Greek only)
  • Photos from Panayotis Christakis

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Road map to Castle of Geraki

Access
Approach to the monument:
The village is on the upcountry road from Leonidio to Sparta (39km). the castle is on a hill 5km from the village.
Entrance:
Open to the public: Tuesday-Sunday, 8.30-15.00.
The entrance is free.

Timeline
  • 1209: The feud of Geraki is granted to the Frank baron Guy de Nivelet
  • 1250: Construction of the castle
  • 1262: The Byzantines take the castle
  • 1460: The Turks capture the castle
  • 1463: The Venetians capture the castle
  • 1468: Return of the Turks
  • 15th or 16th cnt.: The castle is abandoned



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