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Castle of Archangelos of Messinia

A castle on a hill above the village Polichni, 10 km from Meligalas.

In the middle of the ruins there is the chuch of Agii Taxiarches.

The church is older. It was Byzantine and built in the 10th century with frescoes of the 18th century. The fortifications and the castle around are Frankish from the 14th century.

History

The castle is identified with the Castle of Archangelos which is connected with the Florentine family of Acciaioli who around the middle of the 14th century became powerful in the Principality of Achaea.

The Latins named the castle “Archangelos” because of the pre-existing church. In 1418, the castle was occupied by the Byzantine Greeks of the Despotate of Mystras and in 1460 was taken by the Ottomans.

Castle / Fortress of Koroni

In the south of the town of Koroni lies the castle of Koroni, which was original a simple structure. It evolved into a Byzantine fort that was consequently invaded by the Franks during the 4th crusade, around 1205.

While not much of the castle remains today, there are a couple of significant churches and monuments around from different eras. Tombs, Turkish baths and Venetian reservoirs and magnificent storage domes are still preserved.

Castle of Kalamata

The castle of Kalamata is supposed to be on the site where the palace of Ortilochos of Pharai and subsequently of Diocles was, between 1580 and 1120 BC. The current medieval castle was built much later by the Knight and historian Geoffrey of Villehardouin in 1205 AD.

The Byzantines and the Ottomans added to the structure. The lion of Saint Mark graces the entrance of the structure, reputed to be from the Eneti (also Heneti or Veneti) peoples who lived there millennia ago. Fragments from the Mycenaean and Roman eras have been found on the site, in addition to Hellenistic and Roman tombs. A small Byzantine temple remains close by, supposedly dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Kalomata (which may be the origin of the name of the city Kalamata).

Castle of Methoni

On the southernmost tip of the western side of the Peloponnese lies the impressive castle of Methoni, with evidence of fortifications dating back to the 7th century BC.

It served as a Byzantine fort until 1204 AD, passing five years on to the Eneti who established a commercial port and fortified the castle along the lines of Venetian architecture. On a small island to the south of the castle lies the Bourtzi, an octagonal tower-like fort with symmetrical walls.

Castle of Androusa

A Frankish castle in the village of Androusa in Messenia 21km from Kalamata.

The highlight in the history of the castle is that it was the seat of the notorious mercenaries of the Navarrese Company who were the last Frankish rulers of the Principality of Achaea. In those times, around the end of the 14th century, it was one of the most important castles in Peloponnese.

History

The castle was built some time after 1250 by the ruler of the Principality of Achaea Guillaume II de Villehardouin.

In 1381 became the seat of the Navarrese Company, a company of mercenaries, mostly from Navarre and Gascony, who fought in Greece during the late 14th century and early 15th century, in the twilight of Frankish power in the dwindling remnant of the Latin Empire

The company was hired to help James of Baux to claim the throne of Achaea. They were not very successful, but eventually they became the de facto rulers of the Pricipality of Achaea and Androusa was their seat.

In 1432, the Paleologi family, the Byzantine rulers of the Despotate of Mystras took the castle. In 1462 the Turks captured Androusa.

Palaiokastro

Palaiokastro or Paleokastro or Paliokastro or Palionavarino is a medieval castle and an ancient acropolis, on top of a steep cliff overlooking the Gialova lagoon, at the north side of the bay of Navarino. There were two important castles in this bay. The other one is Niokastro .

History

The ancient acropolis of Pylos was at the same location. This was not the Pylos of Nestor and of the epic poems of Homer, but the Pylos of the classic period which played a role in the Peloponnesian war.

The medieval castle was built in 1278 by Nicholas II of Saint Omer the French feudal ruler of Thebes, who had become Baron of Kalamata after his marriage to Angelina Komnene, widow of the Prince of Achaea Guillaume II de Villehardouin. The initial name of the castle was Port de Jonc (Bulrush Port).

In 1366, Mary of the Bourbons fled in the castle where she was besieged by the Franks under the Venetian priest (later a general) Carlo Jeno. The war, however, stopped and the siege was resolved.

In 1381, the castle was occupied by the Navarrese, which was a company of mercenaries, mostly from Navarre and Gascony, which fought in Greece during the late 14th century and early 15th century, in the twilight of Frankish power in Peloponnese.

In 1423 the castle was bought by the Venetians in order to enhance the protection to the north of their possessions in the area, namely the castles of Methoni and Koroni .

In 1500, the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II conquered and destroyed the castle of Methoni. After that, Paleokastro surrendered without a fight to avoid the fate of Methoni.

In 1573, after the naval battle of Lepanto, the Turks started the construction of a new castle in Pylos. To distinguish the two castles located on both ends of the Bay of Navarino, the old one was named Paliokastro (=old castle) and the new one Niokastro (=new castle). Paliokastro started to decline after that, in favor of Niokastro.

In 1668 the Turkish traveler Evlia Celebi passed from Messinia and found in Paleokastro 80 stone tiled roof houses with vineyards and orchards, 1 mosque, 5 shops, an inn, a Turkish bath and a medrese.

In 1686 the Venetian commander Morosini occupied the two castles of the Navarino Bay after a siege and launched the Second Venetian Occupation of Peloponnese which lasted until 1715. In 1715 the Turks returned.

In 1821, in the first days of the Greek Revolution, the Greeks occupied Paliokastro. In 1825, Ibrahim pasha landed at Methoni and crashed a Greek army near the village Kremmydi. After that battle, 200 Greek fighters rushed and found refuge in Paleokastro.

Ibrahim besieged the castle. Without water and supplies, the Greeks capitulated on 28th April 1825.

On 20 October 1827 Palaiokastro took part in one of the most important naval battles of the world history, the battle of Navarino. The Turkish canons were shooting against the ships of the European allies from Paleokastro (as well as from Niokastro).

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

The castle has undergone many modifications and reconstructions through the centuries.

Its shape is a trapezoid and the total area around 50,000 sq m. The walls and many of its towers are still standing but inside there are only ruins.

The interior of the castle is separated by a transverse wall in two parts: the north and the south. The north part, which is at the top, is the location of the ancient acropolis and probably the location of the initial Frankish castle.

The south yard was added much later by the Venetians or the Turks. The preserved form of the castle is the result of the final changes in the late 16th century.

At the east side there are no walls, as the natural fortification of the rock provided sufficient protection.

Below the walls of the castle there is the so called “cave of Nestor”. According to the Greek Mythology, Hermes hid in this cave the cows that he had stolen from god Apollo.

Niokastro

Pylos: the older castle of Navarino, called Palaiokastro or Palaionavarino and the more recent castle, called Niokastron.

Niocastro is the one which is actually inside the town of Pylos.

History

Niokastro was built in 1573 by the Turks, and in 1686 was captured by the Venetians. It came again under Turkish domination in 1715, along with the castles of Koroni and Palionavarino .

In 1821, in the first months of the Greek Revolution, it was captured by the Greek fighters.

In 1825 it was captured by Ibrahim Pasha and remained under his control until 1828 when it was liberated by the French general Maison.

After 1830, it was used as a prison until 1941.

During the Second World War it was used as the headquarters of the Italian and, later, the German forces .

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

The Castle is divided into two main sections:

1) Enceinte-Lower Castle; the larger of the two sections occupies the slope of the hill and is built of ashlar limestone blocks.

2) Upper Castle: hexagonal fortress with massive battlements and projecting bastions which protect five of the six corners of the walls.

The most important buildings:

- Church of the Metamorphosis (Transfiguration): Cross-in-square domed church dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ. It was used as a Moslem mosque and was later converted into a Christian church.

- General Maison's building. Rectangular, two-storeyed stone building erected in the 19th century. It has been reconstructed and now houses the Museum and the offices.

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