May 4, 2015
Civilizations are born, grow, prosper, decline and disappear.
Empires are here for a moment and fade into history books.
Fortresses are built. Castles and walls are constructed, besieged, breached and conquered.
Here in Greece I encounter three such examples.
How many past examples do we need?
The American writer William Faulkner wrote: “The past is not dead. It's not even past.”
Chlemoutsi Castle was built in the early 1220s by the French Crusader rulers of the Principality of Achaea as their main stronghold. It came under Byzantine rule in 1427. In 1460, the Ottoman Turks took control of the area and all of the Peloponnese.
The access to the gate is astride the parking lot. The view is 227m (744 ft) above the Adriatic Sea.
Palamidi sits 216m (708 ft) above the city of Nafplio on the Peloponnese. Built by the Venetians in the Seventeenth Century, the fortress commands an impressive view over the Argolic Gulf, the city of Náfplio and the surrounding country.
There are 913 steps in the winding stair from the town to the fortress. However, to reach the top of the fortress there are over one thousand. Locals in the town of Nafplio will say there are 999 steps to the top of the castle, and specials can be found on menus that incorporate this number to catch a tourist's eye.
Needless to say, I drove up to the parking lot adjacent to the entrance gate.
Mistras was the last stronghold of the late western Roman or Byzantine Empire. The city finally fell to the Ottoman Turks in the late Fifteenth Century.
No road. No parking lot. It was about an hour’s hike up the mountain to the castle ruins and the view.