What comes to your mind when you hear about Greece? Sandy beaches and lively bars? Beautiful sceneries and picturesque towns? Archaeological treasures and a tasty meal in a local tavern?
In Nafplio you can have all these and much more, in less than 2 hours’ drive from Athens! Forget the overcrowded and touristy islands, the ideal vacations wait for you in the mainland. Nafplio is one of the most elegant and romantic cities in the country – a perfect base for a holiday in a Greece that is even better than you may imagine.
According to mythology, the town was founded by Náfplios, the son of god Poseidon and the daughter of Danaus (Danaida) . And due to the important location, Nafplio became the first capital of modern Greece in 1823 until 1834.
Let’s start our trip from town center to experience the beauty of Nafplio. At the epicentre of Nafplio’s old town is Syntagma Square, surrounded by historic buildings – Trianon, the Archaeological Museum and the National Bank of Greece, built in the 1930s. On the nearby streets you’ll witness the modern history of Greece: the Hellenic Parliament (Vouli ton Ellinon), the church of Agios Spyridonas (outside of which Ioannis Capodistrias was murdered in 1831) .
Frankish, Venetian and Turkish conquerors also left their mark in the town and strongly influenced its culture, architecture and traditions during the centuries.
The famous castle of Nafplio, Palamidi, as long as the prison island of Bourtzi and Akronafplia, the Acropolis of the town, create a unique combination of multi culture evidences that preserve its legends and lure you into its mystical ambience.
1.Palamidi Castle: 999 steps above the town
Are there 999 or 857 steps that lead to the top of Palamidi Castle? Discover it for yourself.
Once you climb up the steep hill, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of Nafplio town and the sea. The fortress was built in record time, between 1711-1714.
2.Akronafplia: the Acropolis of the Argolic Gulf
The acropolis of Nafplio, which the Ottoman’s named Its-Kale, was erected by the Venetians and later passed on to the Byzantines and Ottomans. It has three levels, each with a different castle and walls from different time periods. From the rock of Akronafplia you’ll take in the stunning view from the Bourtzi Castle to Arvanitias beach.
3.Bourtzi Castle: Nafplio’s ‘sea tower’
From afar it looks like an elegant stone sculpture. As you approach the islet of Agio Theodoro by boat, travelling the few metres that separate it from the coast, and finally see the Venetian castle up close, you’ll immediately feel its rich and tumultuous history. The castle (shaped like an irregular hexagon) was built in 1473 and the executioners of Palamidi prisoners once lived here.
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. But the best is perhaps just being in this wonderful city, watch the sun going down behind the mountains, coloring the bay red, or relax in the central square and look at the playful scenery: children, couples, friends and families enjoying food, wine or coffee – just like you.