Leontari, Megalopoli, Arcadia,Peloponnese
Castle of Leontari
|On a hill above the village of Leontari, Megalopoli, Peloponnese|
|Region > Prefecture:|
|Municipality > Town:|
|City of Megalopoli |
Elevation ≈ 580 m
(Relative Height≈400 m)
|Time of Construction||Origin|
|1283 to 1333||
Leontari is a village in Arcadia, 12 km south of Megalopolis. On a characteristic hill north of the village one can see the scattered ruins of a medieval castle.
The castle of Leontari has been a Byzantine castle-city that flourished mainly in the 14th century. It was a military base for the Paleologi dynasty and one of the major cities of the Despotate of Mystras.
The castle of Leontari was founded by the Franks. Its history is connected to an older castle in the area, the castle of Veligosti which was a Byzantine castle conquered by the Franks in 1209, 4 years later than the rest of Peloponnese. Veligosti became the seat of one of the 12 baronies of the Principality of Achaea.
For the protection of Veligosti and its strategic position (being in the carrefour between Messinia-Arcadia-Laconia) the Franks built a second castle there: the castle of Leontari. The hill of the castle looks like a seating lion, hence the name of the castle, which means 'lion'.
After the occupation of Mystras by the Byzantines in 1262 and after the ascension of the Anjou family to the throne of the Principality of Achaea, the Franks began to loose territories in Peloponnese to the Greeks. Several decades of hostilities followed. The region of Veligosti-Leontari being in the middle between the two states was very often a theater of battles and disputes.
In this situation, and without reports of what happened exactly, the Castle of Veligosti was destroyed completely in 1300. (Today, it is not known where Veligosti was.)
Around that time -most probably- Leontari passed under the control of the Byzantines of the Despotate of Mystras. The strategic position of the castle, the proximity to Frankish castles (Karytaina and Nikli) and the destruction of the famous Veligosti gave additional value to Leontari which entered to a period of rapid growth. So, during the 14th century became one of the most important medieval cities of Peloponnese.
The city suffered during the Turkish raids in Peloponnese in 1397 and 1423. Finally in 1460, the sultan Mohamed II the Conqueror campaigned against the Paleologian state and completed the conquest of Greece capturing one by one all the castles of Peloponnese. Among them the castle of Leontari which was razed to the ground. This is the reason why nothing has been left today from the once great castle of Leontari.
|Google search inside the site|
|Approach to the monument:|
|Like most remote, ruined and neglected fortifications, entrance is not an issue. The difficult part is to approach the castle and walk around inside.|