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Classification and categories of Greek Castles
The Greek Castles in Kastrologos, are classified in various categories and scales. This categorization is helpful but is not used elsewhere, so some definitions are necessary:
The castles are evaluated using an indication with stars, in a scale from 0 to 5 stars.
The evaluation is based on the following factors (in descending weight order):
• Current Condition
• Defensive properties
• Historical background
With 0 stars are evaluated castles which are in ruins to the degree that it is not obvious they have been medieval castles. Also, some monuments that may be otherwise very important but have lower value as castles (like some monasteries).
The high-rank castles are in the page with the Top Castles.
The Greek Castles are grouped (in our site) in various types based on certain attributes: function, layout, period, location, condition.
Some overlapping could not be avoided, but this classification for the castles in Greece makes sense.
The castles types:
CastleThe typical medieval castles built, usually, on top of a hill in a strategic location or above towns. Sometimes -but not always- it was the residence of the local lord or included a small settlement.
The term “castle” is generic but in the classification of Kastrologos this type is limited to castles built in the Middle Ages (roughly between 400 A.D. and 1500).
Most Greek Castles belong in this category.
FortressPost-medieval large forts used as base of military units without special concern for the accommodation and protection of the local population. A common characteristic is the reinforced fortification to withstand firearms.
The term “fortress” is also generic but for the classification of the site is limited to sizable forts constructed between 1500 and 1750.
Examples: Palamidi, New Castle of Corfu.
Ancient CastleCastles in use during the Middle Ages that preexisted as ancient fortifications. A considerable part of their construction had been completed in premedieval times
Examples: Aigosthena, Paravola.
Coastal FortressSeaside castles for the surveying of the sea traffic and the defense of coasts or ports. They could belong to previous types as well, but this class is especially for the castles that their primary function was to control the sea.
Examples: Firka Fortress, Fortress of Pantokrator.
Small FortsSmall fortresses and forts built in the 18th and mainly in the 19th century which housed a small unit or garrison. They were designed without special concern for the accommodation and protection of the local population and they were suitable for the use (and the defense against) fire-guns.
The most typical example is the various koule towers in Crete.
Fortress-StateFortified medieval cities which are now either in ruins (like Mystras ) or without many modern constructions (like Monemvasia ).
In most of them there is also a citadel.
Fortified SettlementsMedieval settlements with some fortification. There are many deserted medieval towns and villages in Greece, but only those with remains of their fortification are included in Kastrologos.
Examples: Mylopotamos, Osdina .
Walled CityInhabited areas of modern cities partly surrounded by medieval walls.
Examples: Heraclion, Rhodes, Castles of Thessaloniki
Wall RemainsThe term is used in this site to classify as a distinct type of castle the remains of the medieval walls of a fortification, usually (but not always) of a city (e.g. the walls of Komotini). Just parts of walls inside cities and elsewhere.
The difference from the previous type is that here the remnants are broken apart and do not form a visibly integrated fortification.
Castle-monasteriesFortified monasteries and towers in monasteries with a defensive role and characteristics.
Fortified churchSome Byzantine and Frankish churches in Greece have some sort of Fortification. It is not accurate to be categorised as castles-monasteries. There are only 3 in Kastrologos, but we have just started to pay attention to them.
Examples: Falandra, Kosmosoteira .
Island CitadelCastles in Aegean islands, primarily for the protection of the population from the pirates. Most of them became the nucleus around which an existing (and picturesque) town has been developed ("Chora"). Often the houses around the nucleus are arranged in a way that they form the external fortification.
Examples: Astypalaia castle.
Watchtowers (or Viglas)Small towers which had a defensive use, of course, but their primary role was to serve as observatories, fire signal posts and guard-posts. Under normal circumstances, their crew was maximum two men.
The name of this type of constructions was “vigla” (Gr. βίγλα).
The viglas in Kastrologos are all coastal and part of a defensive network to inform of pirate raids. There are towers in non-coastal areas that could be categorised as “viglas”, but these inland towers had multiple uses and were seldom used as observatories only
TowerIsolated towers which are the remaining part of a larger fortification or have been independent structures used as bastions and observation towers.
Tower HouseRelatively small castles and towers which have been used primarily as the residence of local lords and secondarily as fortified positions
Refugee CastleSimple fortifications without permanent guard, in remote areas with the purpose to provide shelter for the local population during enemy invasions and raids.
Piles of Stones & RuinsAlmost all castles in Greece are to a degree ruined, but in this category we classify castles that are completely in ruins, with only rubble or a few remains still visible.
We should point out that if these fortifications were in a little better condition, they would be classified in one of the other categories.
The castles in the site are classified by historic origin which is defined by the nationality of the rulers of the castle in the period that the castle was built or the period that it was reconstructed and took the form that more or less is preserved until today.
AncientCastles built before the 3rd century AD which have been used also in the Middle Ages without major modifications.
Early-ByzantineCastles built or reconstructed by the Byzantines during the 4th and 5th centuries without major modifications in the following centuries.
ByzantineCastles built or reconstructed by the Byzantines between the 6th and 12th century (an alternative term could have been "Middle-Byzantine").
Late-ByzantineCastles built or reconstructed by the Byzantines or the various Greek Despotates during the 13th, 14th or 15th century.
FrankishCastles built or reconstructed by the "Franks" (or "Latin") conquerors after the fall of Constantinople in 1204, during the 13th and the 14th centuries, mostly.
VenetianCastles built or reconstructed by the Venetians during the various periods of the Venetian occupation, between the 13th and the 17th century.
IoanniteCastles built or reconstructed by the Knights of the Order of Saint John of Rhodes in Dodecanese during the 14th century.
GenoanCastles built or reconstructed by the Genoans, mainly in North Aegean and mostly during the 14th century.
CatalanCastles built by the Catalans of the Catalan Company (who later became the masters of the Duchy of Athens) during the 14th century in Evia and in Sterea Hellas (central Greece between Attica and Thessaly)
Post-ByzantineFortifications built after the fall of Constantinople from the 15th to the 17th century by Greeks.
In this site the term refers exclusively to fortifications in monasteries.
OttomanCastles built or reconstructed by the Turks from the end of the 15th until the 19th century.
Modern GreekFortified buildings constructed by Greek warlords in the last period of the Turkish occupation.
The castles are distributed geographically by Municipality, Prefecture and Region .
For the Municipalities, we follow the recent (2010) partition of Greece in 325 municipal authorities according to the program "Kallicrates". We must point out that the term "municipality" nowadays is much wider than the "city". For instance, the whole island of Rhodes is one municipality.
The castles are also distributed by prefectures (or counties). This partition is officially obsolete but geographically useful.
For the distribution by regions, we follow the official segmentation of Greece in 13 administrative regions (or peripheries, 1986): Attica, Central Greece, Central Macedonia, Crete, East Macedonia & Thrace, Epirus, Ionian Islands, North Aegean, Peloponnese, South Aegean, Thessaly, West Greece, West Macedonia. The monastery community of Mount Athos is considered also as an additional periphery.
Random choice from the top Greek Castles