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Alternative Tourism Greece:


The Castles of Greece

...the castles of Greece once linked to legends and tradition...

The history of fortification techniques in Greece is lost in the mist of time. Since the Neolithic Age, prehistoric settlements featured an organised defence as evidenced by the ruins of the prehistoric acropolis at Diminio in Thessaly. During the Mycenian era, fortified acropoles constituted administrative and economic centres, offering protection against enemy invasions. With the emergence of the city-state, walls were built to protect the entire city, while a large tower network was constructed for control over the countryside.

Following the Roman occupation of Greece, the Pax Romana enforced throughout the Roman Empire eliminated the need for individual fortifications until the 3rd century A.D. when the barbarian invasions and later the great wars involving the Byzantine Empire necessitated the construction of new fortifications. The Byzantine walls of Thessaloniki were almost impregnable and for 1000 turbulent years the city was assaulted in three occasions only.

In the 13th cenutry, Franks and Venetian conquerors erected new fortifications to protect their possessions in Greece from Ottoman invasions, as well as against local uprisings. The use of new warfare methods and weapons brought about an improvement in the construction of fortifications, which by the 16th century were designed by specialised engineers. The walls at Herakleion and Methoni are samples of perfected Venetian forts.

Fine examples of strong forts are the Old and New fortress in Corfu Town, and The Castle of the Angels ("Anglokastro") located high above Paleokastritsa.

At the enchanting city of Edessa, the acropolis dates back to 800 B.C.

The castle of Salona (Orgias), the Acropolis of Amphissa, with remains of all architectural styles. Amphissa, the city-state and metropolis of “esperioi Lokroi” according to 2nd-century-AD traveler and geographer Pausanias.

At Pieria, one will find a very significant Byzantine castle of the 13th century at Platamonas.

The famous Knights' Castle in Rhodes has its own unique history. In 1309 AD the knights of Dt. John settled in Rhodes, and their stay endawed the island with with a series of imposing buildings, protected behind a wall-castle, an excellent sample of Gothic and Renaissance arcitecture.

Mani was never conquered by the Ottomans, not even during the recent ages. This fact is based mainly on the many defense and surveillance castles the area has, the quite unapproachable land, and the habitants mentality, who continue up to date the fortification (architecturally speaking) of their settlements with castles and tower-houses throughout the area (small castle-settlements).

The Ottoman Empire preserved the existing fortresses, which saw their last days of glory during the Independence War of 1821.

Once linked to legends and tradition, the castles of Greece now constitute symbols of security and military might of yesteryear, presently used as venues for staging cultural and other events, but always bringing back memories of the times gone-by when kings, knights and their fair ladies were playing a leading role.

 
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