Castles of Greece


Thermisia, Ermionida, Argolis,Peloponnese


or Castle of Oria  
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On a rocky hill north of Thermisia, Ermionis, Peloponnese
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Municipality > Town:
City of Ermionida
• Thermisia
Elevation ≈ 230 m 
Time of Construction   Origin
12th century  
Castle Type   Condition
Rather Poor

A byzantine castle in Ermionis that was used mainly by the Venetians.

The Name of the Castle

The castle takes its name from the ancient temple of Demeter Thermasia that was nearby, at the lagoon, not on the rock (Pausanias II).


The castle was built most probably around the end of the 12th century by the local lord Theodoros Sgouros, the father of Leon Sgouros the self-proclaimed king of northern Peloponnese in the turbulent times of the 4th crusade.

In 1210 the area was conquered by the Francs of Geoffroi de Villehardouin and became part of the Duchy of Athens under Otto de La Roche.

The first time that the castle is mentioned in a document is in 1347, in the will of Gautier de Brienne, Lord of Argos and Nafplion and de jure Duke of Athens.

In 1356, the territory was inherited by Marie d’ Enghen a descendant of the Houses of the de La Roche and of De Brienne, who became Duchess of Argos.

D’ Enghen sold her Duchy to the Venetians in 1388 for 500 ducats annually and the Thermisi castle became a Venetian stronghold.

When the Turks occupied Peloponnese in 1460, the territory remained under Venetian control. This happened also after the 1st Venetian-Turkish war (1463-1479). According to the pact of 1481, the Venetians kept some castles in Argolid and one of them was Thermisi.

The castle was captured by the Turks much later in 1537, during the 3rd Venetian-Turkish war.

The Venetians came back in 1689 following their victory in the 6th Venetian-Turkish war. They stayed there until 1715 when they were defeated by the Turks. Before leaving, they detonated and destroyed the castle.

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

The castle was built on two rocks 3 km north of the village Thermisi. There is a third smaller rock nearby which was not fortified.

Few ruins remain from the castle since it was destroyed by the Venetians when they left in 1715.

The western rock

The western summit (A in Layout ) falls away in sheer cliffs on the west. It slopes down more gently towards the saddle, and from there spreads south to form a broad sloping triangle, limited at its southern edge by a cliff. This whole area constitutes the ward or bailey, and is filled with the foundations of collapsed buildings. It is fortified to the north and west only. No traces were found of the entrance to the complex, which must have been from the north, by way of the saddle, either just at the foot of the redoubtor further west.

The eastern rock

The eastern summit (B in Layout), an isolated massif which is now inaccessible from the west, served as the redoubt. It is an elongated plateau,about 90 m. by 30 m., with sheer thirty-meter cliffs on the west, even higher cliffs on the south. Most of the southern side of this massif is unfortified.
The other three sides, which are slightly more accessible, are protected by walls. There are traces of a staircase which led down to the saddle. There are also the remains, near the northeast corner, of what must have been a pulley-entrance. A few buildings can be seen in the redoubt: a cistern against the east wall, a tower (about 6.10 m. by 5.20 m.) at the highest point of the fort, and a Byzantine chapel which may be as old as the 11th or 12th century.

Outside the enclosure on the long low rocky eastern spur are the ruins of a few buildings,notably another chapel.

Construction elements

The builders of the castle exploited the strong natural situation. Walls were not built above the sheer cliffs; nowhere is the thickness of the walls much more than 0.80.m. The masonry is roughly coursed rubble, held together with a hard gritty mortar which is often lavishly applied. Larger stones are used at the corners of the wall. In several places one may observe horizontal tie beams. Where the interior height of the wall exceeds two meters, there is a narrow chemin de ronde; this was noted in the north wall of the bailey and the east wall of the redoubt (above the cistern). The whole wall of the redoubt with the exception of the western salient (which looks down into the ward) was crenelated,with notched merlons.

Elsewhere in the redoubt and throughout the bailey the walls have plain flat or rounded tops.

There was a second building period, similar in technique to the first. The height of a western outwork was increased; and the embrasures in the crenelated east wall were filled, leaving only meurtrieres. There is no evidence of reworking for the convenience of artillery.

The notched merlons which play such a prominent role in Thermisi are characteristically Italian, and appear in Venetian colonies in Greece during the fifteenth century.Apparently then the present remains of the fort can be assigned to the first period of Venetian rule (1394-1537). There is no recognizable trace of the Frankish fortification which preceded. The Turkish occupation (1537-1686) provided only the minimum repairs and alterations necessary to maintain the castle in serviceable condition; perhaps to this period belong the alterations to the western outwork and to the east wall. Thermisi was not among the castles of the Morea which were reconditioned in the second Venetian period (1686-1715).


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