What is Nafplio known for? Nafplio is a town in the mainland of Greece, located at the Peloponnese and 2 hour drive at the South-West of Athens.
The town of Nafplio was named after Nafplios and was the home of the local hero of the Trojan War and the inventor of weights and measures, lighthouses, the first Greek alphabet and the father of Sophists, Palamidis. During the decades there were times that the town was largely deserted but mostly it is inhabited since the Mycenaean period (1600-1100 BC) up until today and the last years it is one of the most popular destinations for tourists from all over the world. During all this time the city was captured from Venetians, Turks and Franks and this is the reason that in the city there are a lot of buildings with the venetian style of architecture and two Turkish mosques are located in the center of the old city of Nafplio, Syntagma Square. In addition, after the War of Independence against the Turks (1821-1832), Nafplio became the first capital of modern Greece (1823-1834) and is the place where the first governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias was murdered in 1831.
During the Middle Ages (500-600AD) all the city was inside the walls of the castle and a small settlement and in the 11th century the old city of Nafplio located underneath the acronafplia castle was again completely fortified by the Byzantines. An important role in the building of the city of Nafplio had the Venetians who had captured the city different times during the history. The Venetians, who ruled Nafplio in 1389-1540 after they took the city as a gift from the Franks and again in 1686-1715, transformed the city with developing buildings and they named the city Napoli, meaning the “New Town”. During their second reign, Palamidi, the castle located at the top of the hill at 216m high, was provided with extensive fortifications and turned the city into one of the most powerful fortresses across Europe.
In Palamidi Fortress there are eight bastions that had different names through the decades and now have their Greek names by the ancient Greek leaders and heroes. Palamidi is a fortress in the heart of Nafplio built by the Venetians on top of the hill. The Fortress was finished between 1711-1714 based on the architech plans of the engineers Giaxich and Lasalle. From 1715 until 1822 Palamidi was captured by the Turks and after 1822 by the Greeks. The Greek names of the bastions today. (Epaminondas, Miltiades, Leonidas, Phocion, Achilles, Themistocles).
The Miltiades one was used as a prison where was also held Theodoros Kolokotronis, a hero from the Greek Revolution of 1821.
Another very well-known and important monument of the city of Nafplio is the Bourtzi castle located right in the middle of the harbor of Nafplio. It was built from the Venetians during their first reign in 1473 in order to protect the city from the pirates and invaders from the sea. The Bourtzi fortress alongside with the five cannons that are located at the edge of the harbor of the city were a major defending point of the city from invaders from the sea. The Bourtzi castle was captured by Greek troops during the Greek War of Independence and served as a fortress from 1822 until 1865. Later it was transformed as the residence of the executioners of convicts from the castle of Palamidi and from 1930 until 1970 it was transformed into a hotel with 12 rooms and a restaurant but after 1970 the license as a hotel was not extended. After 1970 it is one of the main attractions of the city of Nafplio with a lot of tourists visiting it with boats starting from the harbor of the city.
The “Five Brothers” is the only bastion that survived until today. It was constructed on the 15th century by the Venetians and was named “Five Brothers” because there are five cannons exactly the same that combining with the Bortzi Fortress were defending the city from the sea invaders. It is located at the North West side of the Acronafplia Fortress.
Syntagma Square is the heart of the old city of Nafplio. All the city is full of paths and all of them lead to the Syntagma Square. According to a law of the country the landlords at the old city of Nafplio are responsible to maintain the Venetian style buildings and are not allowed to make major changes, so at all the paths there are buildings with different colors and nice architecture.
At Syntagma Square is located the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio. It is the stone built Venetian Structure building, on the West side of the square. The Archeological Museum of Nafplio was built in 1973 in order to be used as the navy’s depository. It is known as one of the best well-presented Venetian structures of the whole Greece. The exhibition into this two storey building presents stone & bone utility tools, shells & bones of animals and fish, jewelry made of shells. At the Archeological Museum of Nafplio there are findings from the early period of the Bronze Age or Early Helladic Period (3300-2100/2000 BC), from the Middle Helladic Period (2100/2000-1600 BC) from the settlements of Assini, Nafplio-Pronoia, Epidaurus and Tirynth. One of the most famous items that someone can find at the Museum is a bronze armor worn by a Mycenaean aristocrat around 1200 BC, the Mycenaean armor of Dendra.
Acronafplia Fortress in the oldest castle in the city of Nafplio. It is named “Acronafplia”, meaning the edge of Nafplio, due to its location at the very end of the city. Part of the Fortress was created in the Bronze Age and then it was extended by Romans, Venetians and Turks. Once the whole city of Nafplio was existed inside the walls.
From the path that leads from downtown Nafplio to the top someone can enjoy amazing view, at the North to the city of Nafplio and the harbor and at the South to the Arvanitia beach and the Argolic Gulf.
The Three Admirals Square, or the “fountain Square” as it was named until 1854. The name of the square was given in the honor of the three admirals, the Englishman Kodrington, the Russian Eiden and the French Derigny, where they defeated Ibrahim’s fleet at the naval battle of Navarino in 1827. To the West of the square is the statue of Otto, the first King of Greece. Next to Otto’s statue there is the first pharmacy in Greece where the pharmacist Bonaphin tanned Kapodistria’s pile. At the Three Admirals Square you can find the most important historical buildings of Nafplio, such as the the first high school, the Town Hall and the most well-known street of the old city of Nafplio the Grand Street or King Constantine.
From the northern side of the square is Amalias Othonos Street, where the War Museum of Nafplion is located on the left and at the end of the Palamidi Municipal Library.
Nowadays, Nafplio is popular for both internal and international tourists. It is very close to Athens and has a lot of things to do and see around. The first capital of the country or the capital of romance as people call it is a very friendly destination especially for family vacation.
You can find a full guide for the city of Nafplio here. Also, in case of you plan some time to visit Nafplio and Peloponnese region, you can find some ideas and support with the planning of your vacation here.