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The Castle of Arcadia – Kyparissia

The Castle of Arcadia – Kyparissia

The castle of Arcadia is one of the most important sights of the wider area of Kyparissia, which from the 10th century took the name Arcadia. Its creation must have taken place at the end of the 12th – beginning of the 13th century and its construction elements testify that it was a work of the Franks.

The castle is also called “Castle of the Giants”; according to one myth, Kyparissia was created by the Giants, and the size of the boulders from which the castle was built is considered a sign that it was not made by common people.

During Byzantine times it came into the hands of the Paleologi. In 1460 it was conquered by the Turks, who added to the fortification of the Franks. Between 1685 and 1715 it was under Venetian rule and its fortification was further enhanced. Its adventures ended at around 1830, when it came into Greek hands. Today it attracts thousands of tourists, who come to enjoy the great view it offers toward the whole area.

The castle of Arcadia is one of the most important attractions not only in Kyparissia, but also in the wider region. Built in a strategic location, at the top of a hill, it overlooks the entire area and was justifiably characterized as “the balcony of Kyparissia”, because the unobstructed view to the spectacular nature is unimaginable. The name of the castle derives from the name Kyparissia acquired during the 10th and the 11th century, when many Arcadians fled here because of the difficult living conditions in their own homeland. In order to feel closer to home, they named this new area “Arcadia”.

The castle of Arcadia appears to have been built during the Middle Ages. Based on its technical features, it had to be constructed by the Franks, since similar buildings can be found only after 1205. Franks constructed many castles in the Peloponnese, in order to establish their local domination. Most of them were claimed by various conquerors and occupied by many different owners. The castle of Arcadia was no exception. Between the 13th and the 15th century it belonged to the Franks before it was turned over to the Byzantines. The Byzantines renovated it and built four bastions in each one of its corners. One of them still remains intact and is known as the “Tower of the Justinian”. In 1460 it was seized by the Turks, along with the entire area. The castle remained under the Turkish occupation until 1685, without any significant changes in its layout, apart from some additional fortification work. That year the Turks were attacked by the Venetians, who occupied the castle and held it until 1715. During their domination, various sections -destroyed by the Turks – were restored. In 1830, after the Battle of Navarino, the castle passed into the hands of the Greeks.

The castle is also known as “Castle of the Giants” because, according to mythology, Kyparissia and its acropolis were built by the mighty Giants. This also applies for the castle, since the stones used for its construction were so massive that only a Giant could lift. Today, in the premises of the castle and since 1970, there is a small open-air theatre that hosts interesting performances and events, as well as a cafeteria.

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