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Nafplion

Less than a two-hour drive from the capital Athens lies one of the most charming towns of the whole Peloponnese, ideal for a quick stop or a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Legend has it that Nafplion was founded by a son of Poseidon , and the ruins of a temple devoted to the King of the Sea can still be seen nearby. Later after the Peloponnesian wars, the town was abandoned. Much later the Byzantines and later Venetians recognized the strategic location of Nafplion with the latter offering special trade privileges to the small town and building strong walls to defend it from pirate raids, however, these same walls failed to protect it from the Ottoman invasions. After the liberation from the Ottomans, Nafplion was appointed the Capital of Greece and, as such, received a thorough face lift to bring it in line with the vision of then Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias as a modern, practical, European capital.

Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans and reformists all have left their own mark on the town that is a living kaleidoscope of history with examples of their eras intertwined and inseparable. The famous 999 Venetian steps take you up to the Palamidi, one of the two castles of Nafplion, from where you can admire the magnificent view of the town below and take in the restored villas, ancient churches and Muslim mosques-turned-churches. Yet the most iconic landmark of Nafplion is Bourtzi, or Seatower, a tower on the islet in the middle of the harbor. Once a mighty stronghold to guard the entrance of the harbor, Bourtzi was later turned successively into a home and then a hotel. Today it is a popular attraction for visitors who find the thick walls and steep staircases eerily fascinating.

The place to be in Nafplion is Sintagma Square. Even on the hottest summer day you are guaranteed to find a shady spot here under the leafy ,ancient plane tree that dominates the square. Sit in one of the cafes and take your ouzo with ice as you casually take in your surroundings: the restored buildings, Venetian architecture, children playing on the stones of the square and old men sipping their Greek coffee. One of those buildings used to be the Greek Parliament and another, the house of the Governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias.

For an even greater taste of the past, head for the Psaromahalas neighborhood, the oldest in Nafplion. Named after the fishermen who originally inhabited it, this neighborhood was , at the time of the Ottoman occupation, the only purely Greek neighborhood in Nafplion. As you walk around don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Byzantine church of St Sofia which dates back to the 13th century. Another church you might want to visit is the church of St Spiridon built in the early 18th century. It is here that a sad event took place and one that forever altered the direction of Greek History when Greece’s first Governor was murdered in the yard of this very church.

This small town with its old history will be a destination in our Trilogy of Trips. With us, you will have the opportunity not only to explore the town as a visitor but also get a taste of the vibrant life and unique hospitality locals enjoy. Find more here.