Nafplio was the hidden revelation of my recent autumn travel to Greece, a sort of colorful gem found on the way, a chic little town I definitely fell in love with.
Unfortunately, I had quite short time to discover it, because we arrived in the cozy Greek city of Peloponnese in the evening and left at 10 am the next morning, meanwhile I strolled on the streets almost continuously and took pictures nonstop, amazed and irresistibly attracted to the beauty discovered at every step. It’s a place I will comeback this spring, so I would be able to tell you more details about.
Nafplio is a totally charming city with a spectacular waterfront, small streets and historic buildings crowned by a fortress that looks over another fort in the middle of the harbor, while the old town is made up of Venetian buildings and neoclassical mansions.
The main plaza, called Syntagma (Constitution) Square, one of the best preserved from 19th century of Greece, is paved in marble and is surrounded by historical buildings including a Turkish mosque, several very popular cafes, shops, a bank that looks like an art-deco version of Knossos, the well-stocked archaeological museum.
We stayed overnight at lovely boutique hotel Ippoliti, near Syntagma Square, the true center of the town, hugging the waterfront between the sunset colored sea and the beautiful historic buildings of the old city.
Only 2 hours drive from Athens, Nafplio has an intense Medieval atmosphere, a walk around the narrow paved streets of the Old Town is like a trip to the past. On top of a hill above Nafplio, there is the strong Palamidi Fortress with amazing view to the sea. At the entrance of the port is a small islet with a fortress that used to protect the town from naval attacks.
The Palamidi Fortress, which sits above and dominates the city, is actually three separate fortresses walled together. It was built by the Venetians in 1714 and then taken by the Turks the following year and held until they surrendered it to Kolokotronis after a 15 month siege during the 1821 Greek War of Independence.
One of the most beautiful towns in the area of Argolis (in eastern Peloponnese), as well as one of the most romantic cities all over Greece, Nafplio was the first capital of the newly born Greek state between 1823 and 1834. According to mythology, the town was founded by Nafplios, the son of God Poseidon and the daughter of Danaus (Danaida) Anymone. The town declined during the Roman times and flourished again during the Byzantine times. Frankish, Venetian and Turkish conquerors left their mark in the town and strongly influenced its culture, architecture and traditions during the centuries. Ancient walls, medieval castles, monuments and statues, Ottoman fountains and Venetian or neoclassical buildings mesmerize the visitor with their unique architecture and beauty.
The most photographed spot of Nafplio –and its point of reference as well– is Bourtzi, the Venetian small fortress standing on the rocky islet of Agioi Theodoroi.
Photo credits: personal archive Ruxandra Chiurtu