Summer is almost over so we thought of offering you a different from the usual option for an excursion. How about the next time you put Nafpaktos in your plans? Nestled in the arms of the Corinthian Gulf, Nafpaktos seems like an ideal choice for the end of summer. The stone-built houses, the sheltered nest of the Venetian harbor, and the castle that crowns it, create an amalgam of special beauty.
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Peeking over the city from the Castle
You will not need more than 2.5 hours to reach Nafpaktos from Athens, thanks to the state-of-the-art road. One of them is this castle town with its unique picturesque history! And there is no better reason to include it in the travel agenda this season as it will put you in the mood for good since the harmonious coexistence of the sea and the mountain leaves no room for second thoughts.
In the background is the impressive Rio-Antirio Bridge
Entering Nafpaktos, you will pass the national Papacharalampeio Stadium and you will end up in one of the most picturesque spots, not only in the city but also in the whole of Greece: The Venetian Harbor. Fortifications from the first period of the Venetian rule (1407-1499) “pop out” as you face the trademark of the place and the place where you will spend most of your time. You will go for walks, enjoy coffee and drink and surrender to the pervasive romance that prevails.
However, a walk is also worth going to the western arm, where you will meet the statue of the 23-year-old arsonist Georgios Anemogiannis from Paxos, who met a martyr’s death in his attempt to set fire to the frigate of the Ottoman fleet. A little further down, the statue of another philhellene, Miguel de Cervantes.
Small and modest, a tribute to a leading personality of European literature, who indeed fought bravely in the Naval Battle of Nafpaktos. On the other hand, on the eastern quay of the port, a mosque will catch your attention, the most important Ottoman Mosque of Nafpaktos, the Mosque of the Conquest, or as it is known Fethiye Mosque. Today it functions as an exhibition space.
Continuing to wander, a breath away from the lively port, the streets take you to Menedion Street and the famous narrow street. Your passage through here will “transport” you back in time since in the past the entire economic life of the place was hosted.
Nafpakos Patron Saint Dimitrios
A little further up is the church of the city’s patron Saint. Dimitrios, on Tzavella Street. It is the most central artery of the city, where commercial life is now concentrated and is ideal for shopping. There you will also find the sign prompting you to climb the stone steps to the famous Clock. One of the architectural landmarks of the city, built in 1914. It is the point with the most beautiful view of the Corinthian Gulf.
The statue of Miguel Cervantes
Walk among the alleys. Gaze from afar at the imposing bridge of Rio-Antirio. Relax with the calm waters of the city in the background. Eat the mouthwatering Greek dishes at the taverns! Whatever you are looking for, Nafpaktos will generously offer it to you!
Go uphill towards the Old Town following the relevant signs through a route full of pine trees and flowery neighborhoods. One of the best preserved and largest in mainland Greece, the Castle of Nafpaktos reminds us that the city has always been a bone of contention due to its geographical location. The archaeological site that surrounds the upper fortified core of the city is divided into three precincts that communicate with gates.
Corners with a Venetian Flair
The monumental entrance to the northwest is impenetrable. Three consecutive arched gates, lead to the lower precinct of the acropolis with mainly storage areas. An uphill path takes you to the upper precinct. There the restored armory building and the Prophet Elias temple stand out.
At the top of the citadel is the main fortress or Its Kale. With a complex of vaulted roofs, halls, and an underground tank that supplied water to the inhabitants and the castle guard. Your interest will also be piqued by the renovated gunpowder warehouse. Tip: Take some time to admire the unique view from the top!
Walking up the cobblestone streets, an imposing stone building will surely catch your eye. We are of course talking about the tower of Botsaris. Built in two phases in the 15th and 16th centuries, it housed rulers of the city, while after the liberation in 1829, the building passed into the possession of the Souliot general Notis Botsaris. Today there is an exhibition of copies of paintings, maps, and drawings whose main reference is the Naval Battle of Nafpaktos (1571 AD). Your visit here will certainly be an occasion to delve into the cracks of history.
Exhibits in Pyrgos Botsaris
Pass under the arch of the tower to the “Iron Gate”. It’s the only communication portal between the Harbor Quarter and the Mosque Quarter.
In the center of Nafpaktos, the “Museum of Heirlooms 1821-Pharmaki” is an enviable private depository of weapons and relics of the liberation struggle of 1821. It demonstrates the great contribution of the family to the struggles of the national legacy. It is dedicated to Yiannis Pharmakis. If you like to dig into History, then you will find this visit a real revelation.
Of course, a stop is also required at the beaches of Grimbovo and Psani, which stretch on the east and west sides and offer many options for coffee, food, and drinks with a view of the sea. Don’t miss a walk along the promenade with the plane trees. Especially if you get a good sunny day, as it’s just what you need to lift your spirits.