The Castles of Santorini

January 7, 2017 - Comment

The Castles of Santorini   The Castles of Santorini By Andromahi Tsaka Abatzi During the byzantine times and later on during the venetian empire (1207-1580 AD), the coasts of the Aegean sea were suffering due to the constant pirates’ attacks. The only solution for the island’s inhabitants was to move to higher, rough grounds and

The Castles of Santorini

 

 Santorini

Santorini

The Castles of Santorini

By Andromahi Tsaka Abatzi

During the byzantine times and later on during the venetian empire (1207-1580 AD), the coasts of the Aegean sea were suffering due to the constant pirates’ attacks. The only solution for the island’s inhabitants was to move to higher, rough grounds and fortify them. Therefore they have built castles with fully equipped observation posts in order to be able to be warned on time in case of invasion. These are the famous castles (kastelia) of Santorini. Constructed and governed by the Venetians under the feudalism system. They have not only been places of safe living but also places of prosperity and religious tolerance and freedom. The feudal lords were living at “Goulas” which were fortified buildings who have been used as defensive forts and warehouses. A church was built at the entrance of each castle (kasteli). The 5 castles (kastelia) of Santorini are: the rock of Skaros, the Castle (Kasteli) of Pyrgos, the Tower (Pyrgos) of Niborio, the Castle and Tower of Akrotiri and the Kasteli of Oia.

The Rock of Skaros: The Fortress

skaros-rock

Rock of Skaros

Skaros was originally known as “the upper fortress” or “la Roka”. It was built during the byzantine times by the Venetians and was, most probably, the most important of the 5 castles of the island. It was populated during the Middle-Ages and enclosed a large settlement. Skaros was the capital of Santorini until the early 18th century. In now days, even though the Rock of Skaros is not populated, you can find there a small, picturesque church with a breathtaking view. Some ruins of the old houses are still standing. If you visit the area, try to quietly observe the surroundings and for a few seconds you will feel as if you have been transported back in time during the glorious daily routing of old Skaros.

The Castle (Kasteli) of Pyrgos

This is another important castle of the island with an extraordinary past and a magnificent view. Underneath this castle underground galleries were constructed. Their purpose was to be used by the inhabitants if they needed to hide or to escape in case of invasion. Pyrgos became the capital of Santorini during the mid 18th century.

The Tower of Niborio – the “Goulas”

It is constituted by a building which has possibly been built during the 15th century and it is located at the northern part of the island. Today, there are still some sections of the old building gazing proudly at the sublime view of the area.

The Castle & the Tower (Pyrgos) of Akrotiri – the “Goulas”

This castle, as well, has been thriving during the Middle-Ages. It has been named “La Ponta”. In the middle of the settlement the “Goulas” of Akrotiri was located. The “Goulas” was in an excellent state until the earthquake of 1956 during which it has suffered great damages. Its strong defensive location has allowed to the venetian family who was ruling it, to keep it under their wing for a very long period of time by blocking any kind of invasion.

The Castle (Kasteli) of Oia

During the Middle-Ages, one of the biggest castles of the island was located at Oia. At that time it was called the kasteli of Agios Nikolaos (the castle of Saint Nikolas). Sadly, this castle, as well, has suffered massive damages during the earthquake of 1956 and a large part of the constructions sunk into the sea. Today the area of the Castle of Oia is most probably, the favorite spot of all visitors who come to admire the most beautiful show on earth. The famous sunset of Santorini.

For more articles about Santorini please visit our blog www.I-aegean.com/blog

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