castles of Greece

Kyparissia (Arkadia)





The castle from the South


From the hill to the E. of the castle, looking W.


Looking up at the keep, from the N. Byzantine masonry and more recent reinforcing on the left (E.).



Known as Kyparissia in antiquity, this town was called Arkadia in the medieval period, named after the refugees from Aracadia who populated it during the influx of Slavs. The castle dates from Byzantine times [03:198]. It was offered to Villehardouin by Champlitte at the conquest to make up for the loss of Coroni to the Venetians, but was deemed too strong to take by assault and initially bypassed, the garrison surrendering only when all hope of relief had faded [01:75-76]. Then it was either handed over, possibly after a brief siege [04:124] or possibly after a series of failed assaults [03:198]. Paradissos reckons the inhabitants negotiated favourable terms. It was in the possession of Centurione Zaccaria (then Prince of Achaia) when, in 1430, he was force to make peace with Thomas Palaiologos; he agreed to the marriage of his daughter, Catarina, to Thomas and the castle was part of her dowry. In 1460 the castle (along with several others) surrendered to Sultan Mehmed II.

The castle is crowned by a square keep which looks like Byzantine cloisonne masonry. This (Byzantine or Frankish?) keep and the circular tower at the E. end of the castle have been heavily reinforced with later masonry, because to the E., the castle is overlooked by a hill. This which would have rendered it difficult to defend against artillery, and the later reinforcing may have been to counter this. On the other three sides, the approach is extremely steep and defended by good walls, and and one can see why Villehardouin would have been reluctant to assault it. There is a very good view N. along to the coast, perhaps as far as Pondikastro (Katakolo). There are some Turkish ruins nearby, a fountain and a bath house.


The castle is clearly visible from the N. and S. and, once in the town (the square, bus or rail station) is fifteen minutes brisk walking up through the old town to the gate.

(I should add I like Kyparissia: there are some good hotels and restaurants, its a bustling regional centre, and it (just) has a rail link with Athens, via a meter gauge railway line. Along this, the trains roll south, finally through the sand dunes along the coast, to ease their way into a quiet, overgrown goat paddock, which was once a rail yard. Five paces, and a small grill in the station building will serve you a beer and a meal: twenty paces and you can be in a very pleasant room in the Hotel Ionian. The same distance again, you're in the main square).

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These pages created and maintained by Andrew Sawyer. Last updated November 2008