Castles of Greece


Kyparissia, Trifyllia, Messenia,Peloponnese

Castle of Kyparissia

or Castle of the Giants or of Arcadia  
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Castle of Kyparissia
Kyparissia, Western Peloponnese
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Municipality > Town:
City of Trifyllia
• Kyparissia
Elevation ≈ 130 m 
(Relative Height≈130 m)
Time of Construction   Origin
After 1205  
Castle Type   Condition

The Castle of Kyparissia is also known as the Castle of Arcadia, which was the medieval name of the town. The Castle of Kyparissia was built by the Franks on the site of a previous Byzantine fortress.

It became one of the most important castles of the Frankish Morea.


Kyparissia was an ancient city which participated with 11 ships in the Trojan war under Nestor (the king of Pylos).

In the Byzantine period, a fortress was built in the place of the ancient acropolis. Later, when the Francs conquered Peloponnese in 1205, Arcadia became a property of the Prince of Achaea. “Arcadia ” was the medieval name of Kyparissia since the 10th or 11th century. The Francs rebuilt the old Byzantine fortress in the 13th century.

The Barony of Arcadia was not one of the original twelve secular baronies of the Principality. Initially, Arcadia formed part of the princely domain of the Villehardouin family. It was created as a separate barony by the Prince of Achaea Guillaume II de Villehardouin shortly after the Byzantine reconquest of Constantinople in 1261, to recompense Vilain d’Aulnay, one of the Frankish lords of the Latin Empire of Constantinople who sought refuge in Achaea.

After Vilain's death in 1269, the barony was divided between his sons, Erard and Geoffrey. Erard disappears after 1279, when he was captured by the Byzantines, but Geoffrey did not manage to reclaim his brother's portion until 1293, due to the obstructions of the Angevin baillis, who sequestered the domain. He was succeeded in 1297 by Vilain II, who was in turn succeeded by his two children, Erard II and Agnes.

Erard II died some time before 1338, but Peter dalle Carceri, Triarch of Negroponte, is already attested as lord of half the barony in 1324, and it is usually assumed that Erard II left his half of the barony to his widow, Balzana Gozzadini, who took Peter as a second husband. Balzana died soon after.

Erard’s sister Agnes married in 1324 Stephen le Maure ("The Moor"), Lord of Saint-Sauveur (or Saflaouro) and Aetos, and had a son, Erard III, who by 1344 managed to reunite the barony, and was named marshal of Achaea in 1345. He became one of the most powerful Frankish lords of his time.

In 1348, a Burgundian knight, Louis of Chafor, with some companions, managed to take over the castle of Arcadia and hold Erard's wife and children captive until Erard paid a large ransom.
Erard was succeeded in 1388 by one of his daughters, who married Andronikos Asanes Zaccaria, and the barony became a possession of the Zaccaria family (who were Genoans from Chios island). The Zaccaria claim was disputed by Erard Laskaris, a nephew of Erard III by his sister, but without success.

Andronikos Asanes Zaccaria died in 1401 and the castle of Arcadia was inherited by one of his four sons, probably Centurione Zaccaria who in 1404 became (the last) Prince of Achaea.

Arcadia was the last holdout of the Principality. After the conquest of Patras and Chalandritsa by the Byzantines of the Despotate of the Morea in 1429–30, which signalled the de facto end of the Principality, the last Prince, Centurione II Zaccaria, retained Arcadia as his personal fief, but after his death in 1432, his son-in-law, Despot Thomas Palaiologos, annexed it and imprisoned Centurione's widow, who died in prison

So, the castle of Kyparissia was the last Frankish castle of Moreas and the stage of the last act of the over 200 years Frangokratia (Frankish occupation) in Morea.

In 1432, the castle became part of the Byzantine domain of the Despotate of Morea. This lasted only until 1460 when most castles of Peloponnese including Arcadia were captured by the Turks under Mehmed II the Conqueror.

The Turks used the castle and made some minor modifications. They held it until 1685 when the whole of Peloponnese was occupied by the Venetians. It was the second Venetian period of Peloponnese which lasted until 1715. The Venetians had probably used the castle but contrary to their practice in other occupied castles, did not reinforced the fortification in the castle of Arcadia.

The Turks came back in 1715. The castle was taken by the Greeks on 25th March 1821 the first day -officially- of the Greek War of Independence. In 1825 Arcadia was looted by the army of Ibrahim pasha. The Ottomans left permanently the town and its castle around 1828.

In 1970, the castle was partly restored. A small open-air theatre was built, which now hosts cultural events in the summer, such as musical concerts, poetry nights and ancient tragedies.


  • The first and the last 6 pictures by Ms. Jennifer Jones, site Picturesque Peloponnese
  • Website ΑΡΙΣΤΟΜΕΝΗΣ Ο ΜΕΣΣΗΝΙΟΣ - Το κάστρο της Αρκαδιάς και η Βαρωνία της
  • Ioannis Sfikopoulos “The Mediaval Castles of Morea”, Athens 1967, pp. 311- 13.
  • Antoine Bon, 1969, La Morée franque. Recherches historiques, topographiques et archéologiques sur la principauté d'Achaïe (1205-1430), Editions de Boccard, pp 669-670
  • Andrews, Kevin, Castles of the Morea, Princeton, New Jersey 1953

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Road map to Castle of Kyparissia

Approach to the monument:
Easy access from the town of Kyparissia

  • Antiquity: Ancient acropolis
  • Byzantine period: Byzantine fortress
  • 1205: Frankish conquest
  • After 1205: Frankish castle by Villeardouins
  • 1262: Vilain D' Aulnay, first Baron of Arcadia
  • 1324: Stephen le Maure. Baron after marrying Agnes D' Aulnay
  • 1344: new Baron, Erard III Le Maure
  • 1388: new Baron, Andronikos, Asan Zaccaria
  • 1429: Centurione Zaccaria, the last Prince, retires in Arcadia
  • 1432: Death of Centurione. End of Fragokratia.
  • 1432: Ottoman conquest
  • 1685-1715: Venetian occupation
  • 1715: Return of the Turks
  • 1821: Liberation by Greeks
  • 1825: Destruction of Kyparissia by Ibrahim pasha
  • 1828: Final departure of Ottoman forces

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