Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Greece: Nafplio

 Bourtzi Castle

Nafplio has an interesting history. Allegedly founded by Nauplios, son of Poseidon, the sea god, it changed hands many times until it was bought by the Venetians in 1388 for its large and calm harbour. It fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1540, but when Greece succeeded in obtaining independence from them in 1828 it was briefly the seat of government (although this moved to Athens in 1834).

We started our walk at the western end which looks out over Bourtzi Castle, built by the Venetians in 1471 to defend the harbour. It looks rather like a miniature castle made of sand when seen from the shore. Apparently it was at some point the home of the town Executioner (it kept him safe from vengeance) and later a hotel

Out of sight on the rocky hill overlooking the town is the second castle, Akronafplia, now a hotel. From sea level all that can be seen is a number of defensive fortifications.

We headed along from our hotel to pass the first of several Greek Orthodox churches. 

We have been told that 95% of Greeks are Greek Orthodox and that there are no Muslims. The road leads into Iatrou Square, by the harbour, and graced by a rather lovely monument.

There is also a splendid view of the third castle, Palamedes, named for the son of Nauplios. There is a path up to the castle which is said to be 999 steps. It's certainly a lot! And although we were tempted, it was very hot and we resisted.

From  there we headed to Syntagma Square where the main sight is the former Venetian Arsenal now the Archaeological Museum.

At the opposite end of the square a tower belonging to the Akronafplion castle dominates the skyline above a former Orthodox church.

At right angles there is a rather lovely building which reminded me of one in the Cours Saleya in Nice. Looking at that picture again, I see that similarity isn't all that strong, but both do have four bays and are yellow.

We headed along the delightful Konstantinou street admiring the flowers …

… and these lovely first floor details.

Emerging into a small square there was a clearer view of the 999 steps leading up to the Palamedes castle.

This led to another small square with the Orthodox cathedral of Agios Giorgios and the  castle behind it. We didn't go in the Cathedral: I always feel that it would be intrusive and almost invasive, perhaps because religion seems more intensely felt here. It is illogical I suppose as I would happily wander into any Catholic church in western Europe.

We followed a parallel path back to the harbourside.  All very pleasant, but nothing outstanding. I did like this early 19th century doorway though.

Distance: a couple of miles.

Conditions: still hot and sunny.

Rating: four and half stars. A delightful town.

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