Palamidi is an 18th century fortress in Greece
Palamidi Fortress is one of the well preserved fortifications of early 18th century Greece. Originally built (as all fortresses) to defend the region against attacks from enemies, now its walls and bastions are an interesting attraction in the southern part of the country. It is also one of the most beautiful castles of Greece and the largest, best preserved fortress complex of Venetian domination.
Where is Palamidi
It is in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece near Nafplion on the eastern coast of the Bay of Argolikos. Palamidi Fortress lies on top of a homonymous hill 216 meters above the sea.
The walls of Palamidi extend up to 450 meters along the bay. The location of the fortress allows complete control of the water area of the bay.
The castle was designed and built by French engineers Giaxich and La Salle. The plan of the fortress is based on a system of mutually supporting, but virtually independent of each other bastions. There are eight bastions in all, and they are all self-sufficient, so if one of them does get captured, the others will continue to defend themselves.
The bastions were originally named after the Venetian Providetori (the rulers or governors of a particular area of the country). But when the fortress was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, the bastions were given Turkish names. Finally, when the Greeks overthrew the Turks, the bastions were renamed after the ancient Greek leaders and heroes (Epaminondas, Miltiades, Leonidas, Phocion, Achilles, Themistocles). The two remaining bastions were named after St. Andrew and the Frenchman Robert Francis, who died in battle on the Acropolis in Athens. The Bastion of Miltiades was later used as a prison, and among its inmates was Theodoros Kolokotronis, a hero of the Greek Revolution.
There are 913 steps in the winding staircase from the city to the fortress (according to other reports there are 857 steps). But locals claim that there are 999 steps. Legend has it that there were 1,000 steps, but the last one was broken by the horse of Kolokotronis.
The area of Nafplion was first captured by the Venetians in 1470. During the first Venetian occupation the castle of Akronafplia was fortified and enlarged, but Palamidi was not mentioned then. In 1540 the Turks occupied Nafplion. It was the first time that the hill of Palamidi was strategically used by the Vizier Kasim Pasha who ruled the town from there during the three year siege of Nafplion (1537-1540).
The Venetians returned in 1686 and after a fierce battle occupied Palamidi Hill. They realized the strategic importance of the area and especially the hill. The construction of the fortress began under Augustino Sagredo in 1711, and was completed in 1714.
During the Second Turkish-Venetian War in 1715 the Turks captured Palamidi.
It is noteworthy that such a fortified fort was taken relatively easily. One of its developers was to blame. The same engineer, La Salle, provided the Turks with the necessary data for the capture. As a result of the betrayal, the Turks took the fort, and La Salle got his “30 pieces of silver”. It should be noted that during Ottoman rule Christians were not allowed to enter the fortress.
For more than a century, Palamidi was under the rule of the Turks. But at the beginning of the 19th century, the Greeks became active and the struggle to free the castle from the Turkish invaders began.
After months of siege, on the night of November 29, 1822, a group of 350 young soldiers led by Staiikos Staiikopolous seized Palamidi by surprise. At noon the next day, celebrations were organized in the Venetian church of St. Andrew to mark the liberation of the castle.
Every year since then, on this day and in this church, the liberation of the city has been celebrated.
Palamidi as a prison
Palamidi, in addition to its protective functions, performed the role of a prison in the 1930s. In 1834, the Greek revolutionaries Theodoros Kolokotronis and Dimitrios Plaputas were imprisoned in Palamidi. But 11 months later they were released by order of King Otto.
The bastion of Miltiades, which is the largest in size, was turned into one of the harshest prisons of the time. It was sometimes called the prison of Kolokotronis. It operated until 1926. Another bastion became a prison for prisoners with light sentences. The criminals in it were in comparatively better conditions.
During the reigns of Otto (1833-1862) and George I (1863-1913), Palamidi was the most inhumane prison in Greece. The conditions of its prisoners were nightmarish. The German historian Georg Ludwig von Maurer notes that “the prisoners are in sad sewers, among their own feces.
In addition, Palamidi is also a place of execution. The guillotine, which came from Marseilles, was located near the church of St. Andrew. The first execution of a murderer took place in 1833. A total of 25 executions were carried out in the 19th century. The guillotine ceased to operate in 1913.
Fortress of Palamidi in tourism
Today, access to the fortress is possible either by freeway leading to its eastern gate, or by the famous hiking route with “999 steps” on the west side.
It is noteworthy that in the Tianmen Mountains in China there is a huge cave called the Heavenly Gate, to which exactly 999 steps lead.
In the fortress you can see the imposing bastions, the historic Chapel of St. Andrew and the impressive water storage tanks, which even today collect rainwater on the hill.
But the most striking thing about Palamidi is, of course, the stunning views of the surrounding area.
Visiting Palamidi is free for children under the age of 18. The tour is free for children under 18 years old.
The Pilgrims went on a trip to the ancient palamidi fortress of Palamidi (Nafplion, Greece).
The tour was organized by the Municipality of Athens and the City of Nafplion. I keep thinking that in them I’ll see the handsome lvanhoe galloping across the drawbridge, or at least look around the corner, and look, and there not quite sober musketeers are feasting in the bastion.
So do not expect historical information, the review will consist of oohs and ahhs of an exalted fool.
So, the fortress of Palamidi, which rises on the hill of the same name above the city of Nafplion.
The photo below is a view of Nafplion from the fortress, that is, from a height of 220 meters.
First, the organizational questions. How to get into the fortress? You can take the stairs. A steep one. A long one. Two hundred and twenty meters vertically. No shadows. But you’ll get a full idea of what it was like for the invaders. I’ll be proud of those who choose this option. It would be good to go and count the steps. There’s some confusion about the number. It seems that there should be exactly a thousand, but one not unknown in small circles horse destroyed the last step. That leaves 999. That’s a nice number. Anyone want to check it out? I haven’t had any. I only go to the liquor store in the front row, and such feats are not for me.
The second option is the highway. It is not difficult to guess which option we chose.
In the photo below is the entrance to the fortress from the road.
The fortress is open to the public most of the day unlike, for example, the ancient Corinth. I’ll dwell on the opening hours, but you won’t forget to double-check them before you visit, will you? Ticket prices can change, too. I have the data as of June 2019.
Note that there are free admission days. For a family, you can save the cost of a light dinner. In case you come on one of these magical dates?
The fortress is decently preserved, it is very, very picturesque, but truly huge. It consists of eight independent bastions united by a common fortress wall. Only along its long side it stretches freely for half a kilometer. By the way, it is possible to climb the fortress walls. At least I did not see any forbidding signs.
From the walls one can enjoy the most amazing views. The city of Nafplion as on the palm of my hand.
The expanse of the Argolic Gulf.
You are not looking at our pictures, we had the rain pouring down all the time, there were clouds and thunder rumbling. But in such weather we had some pluses. It was not bright, but it was not hot! It was very comfortable to get acquainted with the ancient ruins.
By the way, the fortress is not so old. Only the 17th century. Although the fortifications in these parts existed for a long time. Who didn’t want to get their hands on this tidbit of land.
You can see the old fortress from above. It is located on a promontory. It was enough to protect the port and the city. Until the advent of artillery. After that, it became too vulnerable, and it was decided to build serious fortifications.
So, at the top you’ll find like 8 independent fortresses, bastions, combined into one, but retained the ability to exist and defend autonomously.
A couple of the bastions served as prisons. One prison had a fairly mild regime, while the other was very strict.
Almost every nook and cranny of the fortress was accessible for inspection. I couldn’t help but stick my curious nose into the cell, close the creaky door behind me, and stay in complete silence for a minute or two. Impressions: brrr-r-rr.
I continue my narration in a grave voice: “Long corridors lead from the casemates into the depths.
And there is no end to them, because we have no flashlight with us. We light our way with the phone, and climb into the middle of nowhere. But from the corridors there are entrances to other rooms, there are fallen rocks under our feet, and sometimes a beam of light catches us. Yeah, it doesn’t catch anything. It’s empty. It’s funny to think that we will find a secret passage from the fortress to the city, but so want to play Indiana Jones in his old age.
A little chilly and damp, my skin is immediately covered with moisture, but it’s from fear, of course. My husband climbs farther and farther away, and I just see the phone flashing the vault of the ceiling, then it lights a guiding star for me. I walk, counting the stones with my head. Eventually, I get tired of it, and I beg my husband to turn back.
How nice it is to be out in the fresh air! On the one hand, we were not invited to walk around the interior, but on the other hand, we weren’t even forbidden!
There will be no photos of these passages, but there are in the video. To tell the truth, you can’t really see anything, but you can clearly hear me panicking.
Everyone who owned this fortress built and rebuilt something. As far as I understood, the upper fortifications (what we now call the Palamidi Fortress) were built by the French, and the bas-relief, meanwhile, bears a Venetian lion. And the fortress is called a Venetian fortress. How so?
But I know (read) for a fact that one Frenchman revealed to the Turks a secret knowledge. What knowledge? The secret passage, of course. That’s how the Turks were able to conquer this impregnable fortress. They conquered it and held it for years, Christians were barred from entering.
And then there was a liberation movement. But yes, you know everything yourself. And as a result, Nafplion was the first capital of modern independent Greece, not Athens.
But it was the Venetians who built the fort in the bay. You can see it in the photo above. They say that this fort called Burdzi was connected to the land by chains. By raising and lowering the chains, the Venetians, themselves excellent navigators, controlled the entrance of ships into the bay.
The most wonderful place to take pictures is the walls of the upper bastion. There is a plaque on the edge. They warn that selfies are risky.
Much here is at your own risk. The stone in some places is well polished with the soles of your feet. It’s slippery. If you set a goal to get around all eight bastions, take care of good shoes. But even if you do not go to the fortress, it will decorate the landscape. Watch how it “lights up” at night. The view from the promenade of Nafplion.
You will be in those lands, you too can touch the history. I doubt you will stay indifferent!