Spend Time at Astypalaia Castle in Astypalaia
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If you are looking for a destination that will give you everything, then look no further. Astypalaia Castle is the perfect place to visit if you love history, Greek culture, and breathtaking scenery! This castle has been standing since 1200 AD, and it’s now open to the public so anyone can come in for an unforgettable experience. Here’s more information on visiting this unique castle in Greece:
About Astypalaia Castle
Astypalaia Castle (Greek: Κάστρο Αστυπάλαιας) is a castle on the island of Astypalaia, in Greece. It was built by the Knights Hospitaller (Knights of Saint John), who ruled Rhodes and subsequently Malta to defend against the raids of the Turkish-Arab pirates. The castle is built on top of a rocky islet facing Foinikas, on the northern coast of Astypalaia. A wall connects it to the main island. The only way to reach it now is by boat or climbing ropes or chains during touristic visits with professional guides.
The castle includes two chapels, the larger one belonging to the Knights of Saint John and an Ottoman Mosque. The latter is still in use today; it was converted after the revolution of 1821. After being abandoned for some time, the castle was restored by the municipality of Astypalaia between 1983-1993. A large earthquake in 365 AD destroyed parts of the castle; this damage can still be seen. The castle has been recently restored, and it is now a tourist attraction.
Construction for the castle began during Grandmaster Philibert de Naillac, who ruled from 1310 to 1319, with completion occurring during the rule of Grandmaster Hélion de Villeneuve, who ruled from 1319 to 1346. The castle is the largest and most important of three Hospitaller castles on the island in reasonably good condition; those at Palaiokastro and Monolithos were also built during this period.
The castle’s architect is unknown. Today, it is under the supervision of the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades, responsible for historical monuments on the islands. It was declared a listed monument in 1993 and underwent restoration in 2007. The castle was last used in World War II when the Italians stationed there surrendered to the Germans.
The castle contains a chapel with a large dome and two chapels, one for each of the religions in use at the time: the Chapel of Saint Mary (the larger) and that of Saint John (smaller). The wall connecting it to the main island contains five square towers. There are also four more small towers on both sides, which provided additional defense during an attack.
The main gate is situated on the west wall, and there are two ruins of slit trenches dug by the garrison to defend against intruders underneath the south wall. The moat is located in the northeast corner of the castle. The mosque contains fragments of ancient statues, which were destroyed by the Knights, who did not want the islanders to have anything of value.
There are several caves within reach of the castle. One is a city cemetery containing fifteen graves between 1050 and 1250 AD, while another is known as “Tomba you Amiral,” or Admiral’s Tomb. It was probably the final resting place of someone who died in the Battle of Meligalas (1349), where the Greek rebels defeated the Catalans.
What to Do at Astypalaia Castle
There are many activities you can do when you visit the castle. Part of the fun of visiting here is to take the time to walk the grounds and explore the ins and outs. You can walk around the perimeter, climb up challenging staircases, and find great spots to enjoy the view.
Start by climbing up to a cistern via a very narrow and steep staircase. While you’re mounting inside this dark, damp, and wet environment, it’s as if you’ve traveled back in time several centuries! You can see different types of trees and plants on the ground, and you might also be able to observe passing ships; you might even wonder if this was how pirates felt when they were watching for new prey?
There are many places where walls once stood (e.g., inside the castle), and a single wall has replaced them with a gap in it so you can go through. When you walk among these ruins, you get an idea of just how strong the wind must have been when it destroyed this castle! From this point, you can see the town below; even when you’re in the city, you won’t be able to see much beyond it (apart from other hills and mountains), but here your view of the surroundings is open.
The best way to remember this place which is so beautiful yet so small! There are many exciting photos you can take here, although some aren’t allowed for security reasons. On the way down, there is a seat carved into the rock to sit on and relax. It’s very comfortable!
When you’re exiting the castle, at that point, two restaurants offer traditional food. If you’ve got enough time, I recommend eating there because it’s cheap and the food is delicious! After you’ve climbed up to where there are the remains of a wall, walk towards the Eastern side of the castle. You’ll notice something else very relaxed about the castle there!
Getting to Astypalaia Castle
Getting to the castle is straightforward: if you’re in the town of Astypalaia, go to the bus station and buy a ticket, which will take you directly to the castle. Shen it’s time for you to return, walk back down from where you came and wait for your connection in about an hour! The road which leads to the castle is very narrow and winding, so be careful when you’re driving up there.
On the way back from the castle, you will have a great view of Astypalaia on your left. If you have some time left over after visiting this monument, I recommend going down on a road which goes around this part on the left, and you’ll get a great view of this beautiful town.
If you are in the mood for an extra walk, you can take a road that goes up from the castle. There will be many roads that lead to different directions but follow whichever takes you uphill until you reach a viewpoint. You’ll have another great view of the town!
This post was written by GreekBoston.com