by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
July 3, 2003
Predominant is the Palamidi which towers above town. The present fortification was constructed by the Venetians in 1686 who planned to use it as their home base. Their plan to conquer the rest of the Peloponnese was foiled by the Turks who invaded in 1715. The Greeks eventually wrested it away from the Turks during the War of Independence. All that fighting meant
lots of damage to the fortifications but the walls have been repaired and reconstructed and Palamidi welcomes visitors to explore. Inside the walls are eight Venetian bastions that were sometimes used as prisons. Their most
famous prisoner was Greek revolutionary hero, Theodore Kolokotronis and signs point the way to the bastion that was his cell.
Palamidi is open daily and admission is 4 euro. Even if you’re not interested in Greek history, it is worth visiting for the breathtaking views over the gulf of Argolis and the Argolid plain. Speaking of breathtaking, the uphill climb from town involves over 850 uneven, zigzagging stairs. If you’re thinking of making the climb, be aware that the steps are not all the same -- same are steep, some narrow so it’s quite a work out. I cheated and took a taxi up (5 euro) and walked down. Across from the base of the stairs is a small park with a cafe where you can relax with a cold drink after exploring Palamidi.
Unlike Palamidi, there is not much left of Akronafplia and yet, of the two, I preferred this windswept, hauntingly romantic site. Wildflowers bloom among the craggy ruins and few people visit here so it’s a very peaceful and relaxing spot. At one time there were two castles on this site - a Frankish one and a Byzantine one and a passageway led to Arvanitia beach below but that has been cordoned off. Large cacti line the hillside facing the harbor and its a great place for pictures of the tiny fortress of Bourtzi just offshore. A luxury hotel sits atop the Akronafplia site but it appeared to be undergoing renovations during my visit and the sight of cranes and workmen was definitely out of place. Akronafplia isn’t as high up as Palamidi and can be accessed via a number of stone staircases from town or via the road leading to Arvanitia beach. There is no charge to visit here and it is the perfect place for a picnic or a quiet break away from the crowds in town.
From journal Greece's First Capital