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Nafplio



Prefecture of Argolidas







Nafplio.jpg (21042 bytes)

            Nafplio, the capital of this district, was built, according to mythology, by Nafplio, the son of Poseidon and of Ammonia. The role of this city in the Greek history has been very important. It was inhabited in the Neolithic period and it took part in the Argonautiki expedition.

            As it has been proved, the hill of Akronafplias was inhabited at the end of the 3rd millennium BC. The ancient city Nafplia was also built at that place but it subjected to the Argeans (7th century) and it became their port and shipyard. The city was surrounded by wall in 300 BC Its development was hindered by the Roman rule and almost all the people abandoned it.

            The city seems to have been developed again in 270 AD. Its ascension was accelerated during the Byzantine rule. In 879 it was the basis of the bishop and in 1189 the basis of the archbishop. In 1180 the Byzantine emperor Manouil Komninos nominated Sgouro as the lord of Nafplio. He was succeeded by his son, Leon Sgouros who fight with success against the Francs and spread his rule until Larisa.

            In 1210 Godefreidos Vilardouinos took over the city apart from a neighborhood. Two years later he gave it to the Franc lord of Athens. Finally the Venetian took over this city in 1388. After 1460 many Greeks went to Nafplio and as a result it was quadruplicated.

            The Turkish tried four times to conquer Nafplio. The fourth siege lasted 3 years and 3 months and it was fatal because its defenders finally surrendered (1540). Many Greeks followed the Venetian. One of them was Nickolas Malaxos, an intellectual priest who wrote about the conquest of Nafplio. The Venetian, however, hadn't stopped hoping that they would conquer it again. And indeed in 1686 the Venetian took over Nafplio. Then they built the castle in Palamidi.

            During the Venetian rule, Nafplio became the most beautiful Venetian possession in Greece and it was named "Napoli de Romania" (Napoli of Greece). However, despite the reinforcement of the guard and of its fortification, the city was again subjugated by the Turkish in 1714.

            The Turkish with their families were closed in the castles in Palamidi and in Akronafplia after the Revolution in 1821. On the 4th July in 1821 the Greeks siege the city but they gave up 6 days later. They tried many times to conquer the city and finally on the 30th November they managed to take over Palamidi and the other forts.

            After the Liberation in 1828, Kapodistrias' government was established here and so Nafplio became the capital of the newborn Greek state. Prince Othon of Bavaria came in Nafplio in 1833 and he was crowned King of Greece. He went to Athens the next year. Nafplio was the center of the events that happened in 1862 and which had as a result the expulsion of the Bavaric dynasty. Today, Nafplio is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece, with neoclassical buildings, old churches, historical squares and an island transformed into a fort.

Sights :

  • PALAMIDI. This well known castle crowns the city of Nafplio with an intense medieval atmosphere. The steep hill was fortified by the Venetian when Fragiskos Morozinis took the city from the Turkish (1686). The construction of the fortification was planned by the French La Sal. But it was him who betrayed the Venetian to the Turkish by ruining the cannons. At the peak of the hill there are remains of six forts, six of which have the names of ancient warriors (Themistoklis, Miltiadis, Achilles, Fokion, Epameinondas, Leonidas). If you go up the 857 steep stairs you will probably get tired but you will be rewarded by the sublime view. At the top of the fort there is the historical chapel of St. Andrew. Their shield  "the lion of St. Marcus", appears in many points. The cells that were used as prison, are well preserved. Kolokotronis was kept in one of these cells. Palamidi was considered to be an impregnable fort. That is why its seizure by the Greeks in 1822 astonished all the world.

  • AKRONAFPLIA. It is built in the feet of Palamidi and it contracted with it through a secret passage. It consists of 3 different levels and on each one of them there is a castle. According to Pafsanias, it was fortified in the 2nd century BC but there are remains only of the wall. When the Venetian occupied Akronafplia it had two forts, the eastern or Franc and the western or Roman. The Venetian built their own wall (fort) and they reinforced it with 5 cannons which were called "the 5 brothers". When the Turkish took over they remanded the fortifications. Today only some buildings from these forts are preserved. In the south of the peninsula imposes the "Castle of the Greeks", a Byzantine remainder built on a Mikinean acropolis. In the west of this castle we find the "Castle of the Francs", a work of the French dukes De la Ros whereas there isn't anything left from the "fort of Toro" because on its remains there was built the Xenia hotel. Someone will be fascinated by the Venetian fortifications with the adjusted sculptures of St. Marcus, by the rampart of Grimani (1706) and of course by the fort of Daniel Dolphine. There are also well preserved tanks of a pro-Christian acropolis. An uphill road leads to the fort and makes it easier to meet all the beauties of this place.

  • BOURTZI. A desert island - fortress at the entrance of the port, just 450m from the mole of Nafplio. It was connected with Akronafplia by a chain which prevented the unwanted ships from entering the port. Originally, it was named "the island of St. Theodores" because there was a small church of St. Theodores on the island. Later, the Venetian named it "Passage" and today it is called "Bourtzi". It was fortified in 1471 by the Venetian. The Turkish added afterwards one more tower and thus they completed the fortification. After the liberation, it became the residence of the executioners whereas it functioned as a hotel for a short period of time. Today Bourtzi decays without any care and preservation (you can visit it by small motor boat).

THE OLD CITY. With its historical buildings was not only the capital of Morias in the 16th and 17th century, but also the first capital of modern Greece. As you wander you can see Venetian balconies, Turkish and elegant neoclassical houses such as the first Greek high school founded by Othon in 1833.

At Syntagma's square, which reminds an Italian one, you can see : two traditional mosques : In the one, which today functions as a cinema, had functioned the first mutual instructive school, whereas the first Greek Parliament used the other one for its assemblies.

The church of St. Spiridona was built in 1702 and it became known by the assassination of the first Greek governor Kapodistrias, in 1831

Another important church is that of St. George which was built by the Venetian at the beginning of the 16th century and it was decorated with wall paintings and pictures, copies of great Italian painters. One of them, which is well preserved, is a copy of the Lord's Supper by Leonardo da Vintsi.

Some other worth seeing churches are the church of St. Nickolas built by Augoustino Sagredo in 1713, the church of the birth of the Holy Mother (behind the museum) and the Metamorphosis which was a monastic temple during the Franc rule, it became a mosque and then it was given to the Catholics by Othon. There is a wooden arch at its facade with the names of the philhellenes who were killed in the Greek Revolution.

Church

Other interesting sights are : the house of viceroy Armansberg and of Maouer, the military school, the first war ministry and an impressive lion created by Sigel to the memory of the Bavarians who died in Greece by an epidemic plague in 1833 - 34. The first Greek assembly in 1832, which asserted the election of Othon as King of the Greeks, took place at Pronoias square.

Ancient Mouseum

A public road leads to Kazarma (14klm from Nafplio). At the peak of the hill there are remains of an ancient wall (4th century BC.) which was renovated in the Middle Ages. In the west there is a small Mikinean bridge. One more fortification is preserved on the hill Kastraki.

 

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