castles of Greece

Lamia ('Zitouni'; 'Castri Citonis')





Ashlar masonry at the foot of the tower at the S.E. corner.


History/Description: The earliest written evidence of fortification of Lamia is Diodourus Siculus (XVIII, 13, 4) who refers to fortifications during the Lamian Wars (323/2 BC). Much later, some work may have been carried out on the fortifications in the reign of Justinian. In 1204, Boniface of Montferrat formed the barony of Zitouni and ceded the castle to the Templars (and Miller's guess is that they built most of what is now visible [18 p.70]). The first Frankish Parliament of Ravennika was held near here in 1209. In 1217 or 18, Theodorus Angelos Komninos, Despot of Epiros, occupied the castle and expelled the Franks. In 1275, Ioannis Angelos Komninos, Despot of Thessaly and Neai Patrai (modern Ypati) gave it and the castles of Siderokastro, Gravia and Gardiki to William de la Roche, as dowry with his daughter Helen. In 1311, it passed to the Catalans, before being taken by the Turks in 1446. The Greek military moved in 1833, when Lamia, as part of the Treaty of London, was returned to Greece. A Royal Decree of 26 Feb 1922 proclaimed it as a protected historical monument, and the Ministry of National Defence handed it over to to the Ministry of Culture in 1973. In 1984 the Municipality of Lamia undertook to remodel the site and repair the barracks to house the Archeological Museum. You can see the rings on the wall outside of the barracks where, in the 19th century, the Greek cavalry hitched their horses.

5th century BC polygonal stonework can be seen on the NW corner of the west side, and polygonal stones are reused elsewhere. Isodomic trapezoidal masonry was used 425-375 BC and can be seen at the base of the NW tower. The use of small stones with tiles and plaster set between them dates from Byzantine and Frankish periods. The three levels inside are probably the result of Frankish occupation; the barrack block (now the Museum) is 19th century (and there are still rings on the eastern wall for hitching horses to). The keep, or Acropyrgio, is Frankish. There's a good arial view at [10, 'Castle of Lamia].

Directions: Its a bit of a hike up to the Castle from the town, a taxi up and walking back makes sense (when descending the road, look out for the steps on the left which are a short cut to the city centre. The views from the top are very good; the museum is well laid out with a lot of fine exhibits from the classical period, and well worth a visit. (Our thanks to Niko and Christina for their hospitality.)

Sources: [07, 04, 10 'Lamia'].

Ashlar masonry around the gateway is typical of the Catalan Company.


On the S.W. corner the hill is almost sheer and the masonry is built on the bedrock.


back to homepage

Unless otherwise stated, the text, images and design of this site are (c) the author. This page last updated 7 Jan 2007