Anchored by the sea or on the hills, residential or collapsed, dilapidated or restored, the ancient Greek castles have centuries-old histories to tell. Greece has around 800 palaces scattered around with exciting tales of their rich history. Some are considered as best preserved in the country. Greece is like a paradise for observers of the magical world of previous centuries and castle lovers.
It would be best if you visited these castles in Greece at least once in a lifetime. It would be an incomparable experience and a terrific option for vacationing. With its long-back and rich history, Greece is more than just about archeological sites and monuments. It is also home to hundreds of fortresses, castles, and castle-towns. Some of them are well preserved, while most of them are in ruins. We have put together a list of the most beautiful castles in Greece you should visit.
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Here’s the list of the castles in Greece
Monemvasia Castle is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, and it is located in the most prominent historical fortress-cities in Greece. The structure belongs to Byzantine origin and is located in the Peloponnese region around 100m above the sea level on a hilltop.
The castle is well connected to the mainland via a narrow sharp road. It is strategically located to protect the region against pirate attacks. Both the fortress and the town were built in 583 under the rule of Mauritius, the Byzantine emperor.
Castle of Molyvos
The castle of Molyvos is positioned in the north of Lesvos, the county of medieval Mithymna and is the most important and biggest fortress on the island. It was erected on the ancient ruins during the Byzantine era for the protection of locales against the Frankish and Turkish invaders. The fortifications are located on the strategic location, and the castle used to monitor the north pathway to the Adrammitynos Bay.
This Byzantine palace is also called the castle of Mithymna. It is the second most prominent castle in Lesvos Island. The current shape is due to the work by the Genoans during the 14th century, and the Ottomans had added more advanced features.
Since the castle is built on a hilltop, there is evidence that it is located on medieval acropolis since the 5th century BC. The Byzantines built the fortress, and the Genoans started reconstruction in the year 1373.
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Castle of Rhodes
Also known as the Knights’ Castle or the Palace of the Grand Master, the Rhodes castle is built towards the north of the ancient town of Rhodes in the Dodecanese. Left by Ionnite Knights, the most prominent monument was erected over the last Byzantine citadel which served both as a fortress and military headquarters.
Invaded by several empires and civilizations, Rhodes has a lot of fortresses and castles. The idyllic and historic Old Town of Rhodes has a lot of architectural wonders and is also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also includes a beautiful medieval fortress, the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, built by the Knights of St. John in the 14th century.
The Knights of Rhodes built it during the 14th century, and they occupied the island from 1309 to 1522. Once the Ottoman Empire captured the island, the palace became a fortress. In 1912, the Kingdom of Italy took over the castle, and the Italians rebuilt it to turn it into a holiday home for King Victor Emmanuel II. It was also used later by Benito Mussolini.
The palace was built as a seating to the Turks, the local governor and it is also used as a fortress. It is one of the well-preserved castle structures in Europe and is undoubtedly a major highlight when it comes to visiting Rhodes.
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The castle of Ioannina is located atop 480m hill in Epirus facing the idyllic Pamvotis Lake. This Greek castle is in the current form since the late Ottoman period. You can still find the ruins from the earlier fortifications of the Byzantine era. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian founded the castle in the 6th century AD.
The castle-city of Ioannina was flourished when a lot of wealthy Byzantine families landed there after the Fourth Crusade due to the sack of Constantinople. In 1430, Ioannina surrendered to the Ottomans. The city was an administrative hub of Pashalik of Yanina from 1430 to 1868. Ali Pasha was the most infamous ruler of the era.
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle located on Corfu Island. It is situated atop the highest peak of the shoreline of an island in the northwest coastline near Palaiokastritsa and was built on steep as well as hilly terrain. It rises 1000ft tall on a narrow cliff over the sea and covers the City of Corfu as well as the mainland Greece mountains to the southeast and the vast acre of Corfu to the northwest and northeast.
Angelokastro is one of the most prominent fortified Corfu complexes. An acropolis covered the region to the south Adriatic Sea and presented strategic and formidable vantage point to the castle’s occupant. Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the palaces of Kassiopi and Gardiki, which covered the defenses of Corfu towards the northwest, northeast, and south.
Despite constant attempts and sieges to conquer it over the centuries, the castle never fell and played a vital role to protect the island over pirate invasions and during three Corfu sieges from the Ottomans, and played a crucial role for their defeat. It defended the peasant population during attacks. The villagers also played a vital role in the protection of the castle by fighting against the invaders.
Thessaloniki houses a lot of treasures, along with its castle called Yedi Kule or Eptapyrgio. Located atop a hill over Ano Poli, the Old Town, the Eptapyrgio castle provides beautiful views of the city, the Aegean Sea and the port. Built over the remains of the Roman Wall during the Byzantine period, the Eptapyrgio has two different structures – the Peridromo and the Byzantine fortress.
The walls of the castle were erected in the 4th century AD, but it went through a renovation with just a few towers added, a few years after the Ottomans conquered the city. The Eptapyrgio castle was named after the new towers. It refers to seven towers, even though it has ten towers. The palace is currently being renovated and is indeed a center of attraction of Ano Poli.
Castle of Astypalea
Astypalea is the Venetian Castle that rules the magnificent central city of Chora on the island atop the hill. Also called as the Venetian Castle of Querini, Astypalea is made of darkish stones which contrast over the plain white houses built across the fortification.
The castle has witnessed the battles for power among the Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman emperors. The complex was built by a kind Venetian, Giovanni Querini, who ruled Astypalea after conquering Constantinople in the year 1204. For around 300 years, Venetians ruled from this castle, and each ruler left a different modification to the overall structure. Each ruler has left their family arms coat on the stone emblems.
In 1956, an earthquake struck the castle, but it has been rebuilt partially again. This medieval castle in Greece has breathtaking views of the mountain and wins up the Chora of Astypalea.
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The Fortress of Kavala
Perched over the city the Fortress of Kavala is an ancient structure built in the 15th century with foundations influenced on the Byzantine Acropolis of Christoupolis, the former name of the town, destroyed in the year 1391.
The Citadel was renovated several times and had many additions over the years by the Venetians, Byzantines, and Ottomans. The Acropolis of Kavala gives you the beautiful views of the cistern, inner court, towers, guardhouse, and the arsenal. It also covers open-air theater where a lot of events took place year by year, along with a beautiful cafeteria to relax and unwind after a visit.
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Fortezza of Rethymno
Built around 1570 by the Venetians to protect the port of Rethymno and the city against the Turkish attacks, the Crete-based Fortress of Rethymno is shaped like a star and has six ramparts and three gates. In 1646, it was captured during the Ottoman-Venetian War by the Ottomans, and the castle survived with its original structure. In the fortress, the Catholic church of St. Nicolo became a mosque.
A lot of residents lived in the fortress for a long time. The city expanded in the 20th century, and a lot of people moved out of the fortifications. Even though you may not like the archeology the most, but you will undoubtedly be amazed by the vibrant views of the city.
This Venetian complex is located in the Peloponnese and is dated back to 1714. The castle of Nafplio is also known as Palamidi and has well-maintained and massive construction. It is usually the best example of Venetian fortifications in the nation. With its Baroque style, Palamidi sits over a 216m high hill of the same name.
It is built well to provide some strategic location benefits as it controls the Nafplion city and the port, an entryway to the Gulf of Argolis and the Fortress of Acronapflia. In 1715, the Turks took over the fortress, and the Greeks recovered it by 1822.
Castle of Lepanto
Also known as the Castle of Nafpaktos, the Castle of Lepanto is among the well-preserved castles of Greece and an ideal epitome of Greek architecture when it comes to fortifications. The entryway to the Gulf of Nafpaktos was the battlefield to one of the major naval battles in the past. In 1571, the maritime influence of the Ottoman Empire was almost destroyed during the Battle of Lepanto by the combined forces of Europe.
The walls of the complex dated back to the medieval periods and their ruins are still there on the west of the castle. Its current levels and shape date back to the Venetian empire. A circular wall covers the top of the hill, and from there two arms come down, one towards the west and other the east. Both arms get in touch with each other once they bend and enclose entryway towards the ports through two towers. During wars, the castle protected the Nafpaktos locals and was different for its five protecting walls.
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Located west of Ancient Sparta, Byzantine Mystras is a fortified town. A Frankish prince in 1249 built it. When it was occupied by the Turkish, it was abandoned in 1830 when the population started to move to Sparta town gradually. It was once the most prominent monument of the Greek Byzantine era.
Located on a narrow hill and covering the Evrotas River valley, there are three different zones of the fortress – Kato Chora (the lower city), Pano Chora (the upper city) and Exo Chora (the outer side of the city). It is a Frankish acropolis which dominates from atop the hill. Most of them are the Byzantine churches in the complex and have been opened to visitors and gone through restoration.
Also known as the castle of Clermont, the Chlemoutsi Castle is a beautiful fortress developed in the 13th century during the Greek Frankish rule by Geoffroi de Villehardouin. Later on, it was ruled under the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire.
It is an idyllic epitome of French architecture dated back to the 13th century. You can also see a few elements of the Byzantine era. It is located atop a plateau and is offering a beautiful view of the sea and Zakynthos Island. It is among the well-preserved complexes of its period, and it still retains the previous structure.
Being considered among the Mastic Chios villages, Mesta also houses a medieval settlement, and it is touted as one of the best-kept fortifications of Greece. The architectural disposition of the castle is made of steep alleys, and the nearby barricade provided shelter over the pirate raids. The village is shaped like a pentagon, and other roads are identical to a labyrinth. The complex dated back around 1346 to 1566, i.e., the Genoan era of Chios.