If you are looking for a historical and adventurous day trip in Greece, you might want to consider visiting the Palamidi fortress and the Bourtzi castle in Nafplio, a picturesque town in the Peloponnese region. These two landmarks are not only impressive examples of Venetian architecture, but also offer stunning views of the town and the sea. In this blog post, I will share with you some tips on how to climb the Palamidi fortress and visit the Bourtzi castle, as well as some interesting facts about their history and significance.
What are the Palamidi fortress and the Bourtzi castle?
The Palamidi fortress is a massive stone structure that stands on a hill above the town of Nafplio. It was built by the Venetians in the early 18th century, during their second occupation of the area, as part of their defensive system against the Ottomans. The fortress consists of eight bastions, each named after an ancient Greek hero or leader, such as Leonidas, Miltiades, Achilles, and Themistocles. Each bastion was self-contained and could be defended separately in case of an attack. The fortress also features a chapel dedicated to Saint Andrew, which was used as the main headquarters by the Venetians.
The Bourtzi castle is a small fortress that lies on a tiny island in the middle of the port of Nafplio. It was also built by the Venetians in the late 15th century, to protect the entrance of the harbor from pirates and other enemies. The name Bourtzi comes from the Turkish-Arabic word for “island-fortress”. The castle has a circular shape and two floors, with a tower and a cistern. It was later used as a prison, a hotel, and a cultural venue.
How to get to Nafplio?
Nafplio is located about 140 km southwest of Athens, and it can be easily reached by car or by bus. If you drive, you can take the national road Athens-Corinth-Patras and exit at Nemea. Then follow the signs to Nafplio. The journey takes about two hours. If you prefer public transportation, you can take a bus from Kifissos bus station in Athens. There are frequent buses throughout the day, and the ticket costs about 15 euros. The bus ride takes about two and a half hours.
How to climb the Palamidi fortress?
There are two ways to reach the Palamidi fortress: by car or by foot. If you choose to drive, you can follow the road that goes around the hill and leads to a parking lot near the entrance of the fortress. The road is narrow and steep, so be careful. The parking fee is 3 euros per hour.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can also climb up to the fortress by foot. There are 999 steps that start from the town center and lead to the top of the hill. The steps were built by prisoners under the supervision of the Bavarian army in 1833. The climb is challenging but rewarding, as you will enjoy amazing views of Nafplio and its surroundings along the way. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring water and sunscreen, and avoid climbing during midday when it is too hot.
Once you reach the entrance of the fortress, you will have to pay a ticket of 8 euros (4 euros for students) to enter. The fortress is open every day from 8 am to 7 pm (except on some holidays). You can explore the different bastions, admire the architecture and the cannons, visit the chapel of Saint Andrew, and enjoy panoramic views of Nafplio and its bay.
How to visit the Bourtzi castle?
To visit the Bourtzi castle, you will have to take a boat from the port of Nafplio. There are small boats that depart every 20 minutes from 9 am to 9 pm (except on some days when there are events or bad weather). The boat ride takes about 10 minutes and costs 5 euros per person (round trip). You can buy your ticket from a kiosk near the pier.
Once you arrive at the island, you can walk around the castle and see its interior. The castle is not very big, so you will not need much time to see it. You can also take photos of the castle and the sea, and relax on the benches or the rocks. There is no entrance fee for the castle, but there is a donation box if you want to support its maintenance.
What else to do in Nafplio?
Nafplio is a charming town with a lot of history and culture. Besides the Palamidi fortress and the Bourtzi castle, you can also visit the following attractions:
- The Acronauplia, the oldest part of the town, where you can see the remains of ancient walls and medieval towers.
- The Syntagma Square, the main square of the town, where you can see the Archaeological Museum, the Vouleftiko (the first parliament of Greece), and the Trianon Mosque.
- The Arvanitia Promenade, a scenic walkway along the coast, where you can enjoy the sea breeze and the views of the Palamidi and the Bourtzi.
- The Nafplio National Gallery, where you can see paintings by Greek artists related to the history and culture of Nafplio.
- The Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation, where you can see exhibits of traditional costumes, textiles, crafts, and tools from the Peloponnese.
Nafplio is also a great base to explore other nearby archaeological sites, such as Mycenae, Epidaurus, Nemea, and Tiryns. You can either rent a car or join a guided tour to visit these places.
Nafplio is a beautiful town that combines history, culture, and nature. It is worth visiting for its two impressive fortresses: the Palamidi and the Bourtzi. Climbing up to the Palamidi fortress and taking a boat to the Bourtzi castle are two unforgettable experiences that will make your trip to Nafplio memorable. I hope this blog post has given you some useful information and tips on how to climb the Palamidi fortress and visit the Bourtzi castle. Have fun and enjoy your visit!