castles of Greece







Acrocorinth from the site of the old city:


History/Description: 'The history of Acrocorinth is the history of the Morea during the Middle Ages' (Andrews, 1953: 137). An outline history can be found in the excellent official guide (Koumoussi, 2001) and in greater detail in Andrews (1953). Justinian upgraded the Hexamilion Wall in the sixth century and it is thought that he would have refortified Acrocorinth at the same time. Numismatic evidence suggests that Slav raids in the seventh and eighth centuries drove the local population to reoccupy the area at times, and when the Byzantines regained control of the area in the early 800s, it probably housed the local Byzantine commanders (Koumoussi, 2001:10-11). It resisted Bulgarian invasions but Roger II of Sicily, who was raiding the area, seized it in 1147. It was regained by the Byzantines with Venetian help in exchange for trading rights. Leo Sgouros acquired it in 1203, and was beseiged by the Franks for five years (during which time they built Pendeskoufi). Sgouros reputedly committed suicide in 1210 by jumping the wall on his horse, whereupon the fortress fell to Othon de la Roche and Geoffroy I Villehardouin of Achaea. It remained in Frankish hands and was well-guarded until 1385 when Nerio Acciajouoli, the then lord, siezed Athens, thereafter neglecting Acrocorinth. Theodore I Palaiologos, Despot of the Morea, gained it through marriage in 1394. He ceded it to the Hospitallers for four years, but then it was held by Byzantine rulers until in 1458 when, after a three month seige, Mohammed II took the fortress. The Ottomans held it (despite assaults by the Venetians and the Hospitallers) until 1687, when the Venetians captured it, losing it to the Ottomans in 1715 (Andrews, 1953: 136-7). It surrendered to Greek forces in October 1823.

Most of the occupiers added to or ammended the fortifications on Acrocorinth. A good plan is available on Wikipedia (and such is the scale of the site that Googlemaps provides a useful ariel view). Koumoussi and Andrews provide an explanation of different periods.

Directions: Guidebooks of the area have information on transport. One can easily spend a day on Acrocorinth (it is best to stay in Old Corinth which is nearer than the modern city). When I visited there were few facilities for visitors, but as a spot for a picnic it has some wonderful views.

The main gates, showing the scale and complexity of the entrance:


View to the north-east, Corinth and the gulf in the background:


View to the south-west, showing the Frankish fort of Pendeskoufi:


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These pages created and maintained by Andrew Sawyer. Last updated July 2014