Nafplio

Under the shadow of three castles

It is probably, and most rightfully, the most popular destination of the Peloponnese

An eye catcher city, once capital of the newly- born Greek state, wreathed with one of the most beautiful castles in Greece and with a historic center so pretty that could easily be part of a fairytale. And that’s not all.

A destination… for all seasons

In contrast to many places in Greece that are considered in our collective consciousness as purely "winter" or "summer" destinations, Nafplio is for all seasons. In spring you can come to drink ouzo and meze (finger food) at its beach taverns, in summer you can visit for swimming at the beaches all around and to go to Epidaurus and Mycenae, in autumn to watch the sun setting from Palamidi and stroll down the old city during a sunny afternoon, and in winter to snuggle in its cozy taverns and the romantic dorms. And do not be fooled by the size or the small distance that separates it from Athens, and think you can fit it in a weekend. It has so many things to see and do that if you leave after two days, the only sure thing will be that you will soon return.

The “must” strolls and sights in Nafplio
The old city
Is the <<point zero>> of Nafplio, where all the strolling begins, and out of its borders the visitors never walk pass. Which is a pity, but also it makes sense: the heart of the city is a beautiful network of cobbled streets that meander among beautiful mansions and flowery balconies. A weekend easily passes just by stopping every few meters to gaze another impressive neoclassical building, another museum, and another corner with postcards. And if you happen to come while it’s crowded and feel tired, the stone alleys you will meet every few steps lead to the beautiful upper neighborhoods of the old city, in which there is a dreamy quietness.   
Syntagma Square
  • The Vouleutiko, the Ottoman Mosque, which housed the first Parliament of Greece.
  • The Kyverneio (Governorate), that people call it “palataki”, which was the offices of the first Greek government and house of Ioannis Kapodistrias.
  • The Archaeological Museum, housed in a beautiful, Venetian, stone building of 1713 and tells the story of all the civilizations that developed in Argolis from the beginning of time (the oldest exhibit of the museum dates back in 21.000 B.C. and no, we didn’t write the numbers wrong) till the 5th century B.C., with emphasis, as you can easily guess, on the Mycenaean era.
  • The Trianon, the oldest Mosque in the city that was turned in 1687 into the church of St. Antony of Padova by the Venetians, and today operates as theatre and a gallery.
       Akronafplia

The Acropolis of the old times had been inhabited since prehistory.  The oldest wall of the ones you see today, the dizzying height of which reaches the 85 meters at some points, was built in the 3rd century B.C. The Franks and the Venetians added later fortresses and canons- the most famous canons of which are the Venetian “Five Siblings” at the Fortress of Toro. The Ottomans called it “Ich- cale”, which means the inner castle. In 1822 Kolokotronis raised here the flag of the Greek Revolution. Nowadays, Akronafplia is one of the best places to stroll in Nafplio, with its uphill revealing behind every corner another postcard- like view of the city and then the sea and so on.

Palamidi

The biggest and the best- preserved Venetian castle of Greece, Palamidi, was built in 1714 during the second Venetian rule. Its name derives from the hill it is on, which is named by Palamidis, the son of Nafplio, who was part of the story told about the Mycenaeans that on their way to Troy send someone to Ithaca to bring Odysseus, but he played crazy and started sowing the fields with salt so that he wouldn’t have to go.  Palamidis was the one that went to Ithaca and managed to convince Odysseus to follow. From that castle that carries his name started many, many years later the emancipation of Nafplio, when   Staikos Staikopoulos win it back from the Ottomans on November 1822.

According to the local legend, the steps of Palamidi were a thousand, until one day Kolokotronis horse broke the last one and remained 999. But don’t be scared that you have to climb them one by one, if your stamina doesn’t allow it. There is a nice road that leads you and your car to the castle’s entrance. On the inside, Palamidi offers beautiful routes, fantastic view of the city of Nafplio from the walls and chills down the hole- prison of Kolokotronis that is not recommended for the claustrophobic.

Bourtzi
The smallest of the three castles of Nafplio, on the small island of Agioi Theodoroi across the old town, was built by the Venetians in 1473 and was called Castello dello Soglio, the Castle of the Throne. “Bourtzi” was the name that the Ottomans gave it when they came, which means fortress, and so it remained. The many times photographed little castle had been a prison in the 19th century and later a luxurious hotel during the ‘60s. Today, is the perfect postcard scenery of every Nafplian sunset- you can get there in less than 10 minutes by boat that starts from the waterfront on the outskirts of the old town.
Around Arvanitia
The most beautiful walk in Nafplio, after the walks you’ll go in the old town, begins from the end of the waterfront and follows the cobbled path by the sea, for about half a kilometer, until it ends up in Arvanitia square, where there is the entrance of the Arvanitia beach that is perfect for dips under the shadow of the castle. Before the end of the path it is worth to make a small detour towards Santa Maria de la Grotta, the small chapel of Panagia of Spilia that it is on the rock and enjoys a marvelous view of the sea. If your stamina allows it, from Arvanitia starts another amazing coastal route (ideal for hiking) that brings you after three kilometers to the other beach- star of Nafplio, called Karathona.   
The Lion of Bavaria

Who said that the new town of Nafplio hasn’t got any sights? When you find yourself in Michael Giatrou Street, a little further from the city’s cemetery, remember to look up: The giant lion of Bavaria sleeps, carved on the rock, for almost 200 years. It is the work of the German sculptor Christian Siegel that was custom made for the father of Otto, Luis, to honor the memory of the Bavarian soldiers of the young king’s escort, who died from typhus. The locals, however, tell a different story, in which typhus didn’t kill them, but on the contrary, it was the consumption of many cucumbers that did, thus, the unformal name of the monument is “Aggouroon”, meaning “of cucumbers”.

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