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Larisa of Argos

The castle of Larisa is located on the homonymus hill which is located 289m high over the city of Argos. Due to it’s strategic location it had been built since the prehistoric period. Its walls reveal its long history, starting from the Middle Hellenistic period all the way to the Turkish and the Venetian domination.
It has two enclosures, a wider external and a smaller internal one. In the second one are the ruins of the Christian church of the Virgin Mary, that dates back to the 12th century A.D., 4 water tanks and two ancient temples, one dedicated to Zeus Larisseos on the top of which was built the church of Saint Marina, and another one dedicated to Athena Polias. In 1992 this monument was declared listed and today cultural activities and festivals take place at this historic spot.

On the west of the Argolic valley, above the historic city of Argos on the homonymous conical hill 289 m above sea level, stands the imposing castle of Larisa. It was thus named after Larisa, the daughter of legendary Pelasgus. The long history of the castle is detected through the findings which date back to the Middle Bronze Period, the Later Archaic Period (5th-4th century A.C.) the Byzantine, the Frankish, the Ottoman and the Venetian rule. Today’s form of the castle dates back to the Later Byzantine and Frankish rule, with some later extensions and attachments.
The boulders, remains of the Cyclopean fortification easily found on parts of the foundation, show that the castle was built many years ago, more specifically around 1800 B.C. During the 5th and 6th century, the inhabitants of Argos repaired and reconstructed the walls following in their ancestors’ footsteps. In the Middle Byzantine Period (10th century A.D.) the medieval castle was built. Then, from the 13th to the 15th century, Franks and Venetians took over the castle and proceeded with more repairing and extensions. The walls of the ancient acropolis were replaced with medieval ones and new walls were constructed, which surrounded the old ones. After that, the Turks left their own traces, adding their personal taste to the historic site.

The castle played a significant role in the War of Independence in 1821. In 1822 after Dramalis’ arrival to the city, 700 warriors with D. Ypsilanti leading the group occupied the castle, distracted Dramalis and assisted Kolokotronis in gathering men to create a capable army. However, on the 24th of July 1822 after creating diversion they left the castle, to win the battle in the famous historic battlefield called “Dervenakia”.

There are two enclosures surrounding the castle, a wider external one, 200 m long and a smaller internal one almost 70 m long. Pausanias mentions that in the internal enclosure there were two ancient temples, one dedicated to Zeus Larisseos and the other to Athena Polias. The excavations verify the existence of these two temples and in 1859 above the first one was built the church of St. Marina. The excavations that took place there from 1906 to 1928 brought to light 4 water tanks and remains from a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which was built by Bishop of Argos, Nikitas in the 12th century (1166 B.C.). In order for this church to be constructed, building materials of the ancient times were used.

In 1992 the monument was declared listed and now it is used for cultural activities and various events. The castle is accessible by car following the main road that starts from Vasileos Constantinou Street. The view is magical, and before the visitor’s eyes spreads the admirable Argolic valley.

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