Nafplion is a great city and everything that
Athens is not: quiet, friendly, and filled with attractive buildings. We spent
five nights here, and used it as our base for exploring the region.
Because we were nearing the end of our trip to Greece, we gave ourselves two days with nothing to do but relax and stroll around Nafplion--and what a treat that was!
Our drive from Monemvasia to Nafplion took us through some interesting places, most of which were not at all touristy.
In Geraki, we saw this tiny Byzantine church.
In Kosmas, we stopped and had a coffee at one of the cafes in its main square under a canopy of trees.
We also stopped at the Orthodox monastery of Elona, where the nuns scowled at our wearing of short pants--but still tried to sell us tacky souvenirs.
Nafplion is set near the mouth of the Argolid Gulf. In former times its port was protected by this Venetian island fort on the small island of Bourdzi.
The waterfront is lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants, and is charming both night and day.
The old town is mostly pedestrian, which makes it a delight to stroll. (The middle photo below shows the street where our apartment was located.)
The main square is large and open and lined with more cafes and restaurants: the building in these photos is the former Venetian trade warehouse, built in the eighteenth century.
Throughout the city, remnants of its medieval
past survive--below is a medieval church, built by the Byzantines as a Greek
then converted by the Venetians into a Roman Catholic church, then converted by the Ottoman Turks into a Muslim mosque--and now closed.
The statue below commemorates Staikos Staikopoulos,
one of the heroes in the Greek war of independence.
Another history lesson: After centuries of conquest--by the Macedonians and Romans in antiquity, by the Crusaders and Venetians in the middle ages, and by the Ottoman Turks in the early modern era--the Greeks won their independence after a series of battles, one of which happened here at Nafplion in 1822. For this reason, Nafplion was chosen as the first capital of the new nation, but its first king decided to move the capital to Athens in 1834. This decision allowed Nafplion to remain much as it was in the nineteenth century.
Nafplion rises up toward the high hill behind the town, called the Palamidi.
At the summit of the hill is a fortress, built by the Venetians, then reinforced by the Turks.
The fort is composed of eight separate bastions that overlooked the town and also each other, so that if one were taken by an enemy, it could come under attack from the others.
We wandered through the empty buildings and open courtyards between them, enjoying another warm and sunny day.
One of the entrances to the fort still displays the lion, symbol of Venice.
The fort, visible from most of the old town, is also lit up at night.
From the fort you overlook the sea and the coast across the gulf.
You also overlook the old town below.
We could even see our apartment--the upper two stories of the white, red-tiled building at the center with the pink bougainvillea bush on the closer side of it.
Nafplion was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!