Nafplio is located less than two hour’s drive by car from Athens, on the Peloponnese peninsula. The beautiful old city has a wealth of narrow alleyways and streets, steep stairs, taverns serving delicious Greek food, lively bars, clubs and cafés, a lovely seafront promenade, and enough sights to fill a week or two. But the best is perhaps just being in this wonderful city, watch the sun go down behind the mountains, colouring the bay red, or relax in the central square and look at the playful children, couples, friends and families enjoying food, wine or frappé.
This vast and spectacular citadel stands on a 216m-high outcrop of rock with excellent views down onto the sea and surrounding land. It was built by the Venetians between 1711 and 1714, and is regarded as a masterpiece of military architecture. Within its walls stands a series of independent bastions, strategically located across the hill. The most important, and best preserved, is the western Agios Andreas Bastion , which stands at the top of the steps from town. It was the home of the garrison commander, and it is named after the tiny church in the interior courtyard. There are wonderful views over the Akronafplia and the old town from the bastion walls.
The island fortress of Bourtzi lies about 600m west of the town’s port. Most of the existing structure was built by the Venetians. Boats to the island leave from the northeastern end of Akti Miaouli.
Rising above the old part of town, the Akronafplia fortress is the oldest of Nafplio’s three castles, although there’s much less to see here than at the other two forts. The lower sections of the walls date back to the Bronze Age. Until the arrival of the Venetians, the town was restricted to within its walls. The Turks called it İç Kale (meaning ‘inner castle’). It was used as a political prison from 1936 to 1956.
There’s a lift up to the fortress from Plateia Poliko Nosokomiou at the western edge of town (it accesses the Nafplia Palace hotel complex). The old gateway to the fortress, crowned with a fine Venetian lion emblem, is at the top of Potamianou above Hotel Marianna.
This arm of the Athens National Gallery is housed in a stunningly restored neoclassical building. It features works on the 1821 Greek War of Independence, including works by Greek painters Vryzakis and Tsokos, considered the most important artists of the postwar years.
Once you are in the shadow of platanos -mentioned above- think of how important the spot is, since, several years ago, revolutionary plans were decided by chieftains.
The square -really beautiful, like a miniature of the city- reveals the individual identity and the history of Nafplio.
Stand for a moment in the middle of the square (just a little attention to the skates behind you, beside the bike and soccer ball, oops, your head) and observe the buildings. I am sure that you are definitely going to feel the energy!
The historical buildings around the square
Here you can see the building of parliament, which housed the first Greek Parliament.
Right in front of you lies “Trianon”, namely the Old Mosque (the oldest surviving example of Othoman architecture in the city). Next to it Ioannis Kapodistrias‘s palace and Theodoros Kolokotronis‘s house, and of course the Archaeological Museum.
A square full of life
Now, once you get a good dose of history, you will sit in the sqare for a coffee or a drink. Here you will find everybody in the morning, as well as the evening, since it is a square alive day and night. From here, your most beautiful walks will begin towards the old city. And here again you will end up.