Greece

Best Castles in Greece

Think of Greece and, aside from its amazing coastline and picturesque villages, you’re likely to think of its archaeology. But did you know Greece has roughly 800 castles scattered over its mainland and islands? Discover the Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman periods of Greek history whilst looking out across majestic landscapes and seascapes that take your breath away as you visit the best castles in Greece.

30 Famous Greek castles you have to visit

1. Chlemoutsi Castle

Castles in Greece-Chlemoutsi-Castle

This medieval castle boasts stunning views across the entire plain of Ellia and across the Ionian sea with the islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia just visible in the distance. Once the most important castle of the Princedom of Achaia, the Franks, Catalans, Turks, and Venetians all controlled this castle at points in history and therefore controlled the entire Peloponnese.

Where: Kyllini, Ilia, Western Peloponnese
When: 12th century
Style: Frankish
Open for visit: Yes. Summer Opening: Wednesday-Monday 8.30 am-4 pm. Winter Opening: Wednesday-Monday 8.30 am-15.30pm. Closed 1st January, 25th March, Easter Sunday, 25th and 26th December.

2. Arta Castle

Best castles in Greece-Arta-Castle

Used as a fortress, prison (the place where General Makriyannis one of the heroes of the 1821 Greek Revolution was kept), and containing a derelict hotel, today Arta Castle is a cultural venue for Summer events. Explore the overgrown grounds and admire the façade with clock tower at one of the lesser-visited sights in Greece.

Where: Arta, Epirus
When: 13th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, open 8 am-2 pm Monday-Friday. Closed weekends unless cultural events are taking place.

3. Asini Castle

Greek Castles-Asini-Castle

The Acropolis of Asini, or Katraki as it’s otherwise known, was a Medieval Citadel used by the Byzantines, Franks, and Venetians though dates back to the Neolithic era with continuous occupation from the 5th millennium BC until 600 AD. Mentioned by Homer, visitors to the archaeological site can see the Hellenistic bastions, underwater storage that was also used by the Italians during WWII, the cistern ruins, and Mycenaean tombs. It is located on a 330-metre high headland by Kastraki Beach providing stunning views of Tolo and Drepano.

Where: Tolo, Nafplion, Peloponnese
When: 6th-7thth century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, open dawn-dusk.

4. Assos Castle

Famous Castles in Greece-Assos-Castle

One of the largest castles in Greece, the fortress of Assos was built as a fortress-state by the Venetians and become the capital of North Kefalonia and the seat of the Venetian governor, built to help the Castle of St George defend the island from pirate raids and Turkish threat were it ever required. Wander around the ruins visiting the church and chapel, the house of the Venetian High Commissioner, and admire the castle gates and the impressive views over the bay.

Where: Assos, Frourio, Kefalonia
When: 16th century
Style: Venetian
Open for visit: Yes. Open daily.

5. Astypalaia Castle

Best Greek Castles-Astypalaia castle

Perched on top of the Chora hill, Querini Castle is a sight to behold with the brown of the ancient stones contrasting magnificently with the whitewashed buildings below. Built by the Venetians in 1204 on the site of an ancient Acropolis, the castle became involved in the power struggle between the Venetian and Turk rulers, each of whom left their mark on the castle that is seen today.

Where: Chora, Astypalea, Dodecanese
When: 13th century
Style: Venetian
Open for visit: Yes. Unknown opening hours.

6. Castle of Chalkis

Castles in Greece-Castle-of-Chalkis

Otherwise known as Karababa Castle or Kanithos Castle, this fortress is the one remaining castle of two that used to protect the city up until the 19th century. It was built in 1684 to protect the city during the Turko-Venetian war and stopped Francisco Morosini from conquering Chalkida, the Turks remaining in control of the fortress until the Greek liberation.

Where: Chalkis, Euboea
When: 17th century
Style: Ottoman
Open for visit: Yes, open Wednesday-Monday 8:30 am-4 pm, closed Tuesday.

7. Castle of Chios

Best castles in Greece-Castle-of-Chios

The castle at the heart of this medieval citadel measuring 180,000 square meters was inhabited from the Hellenistic years, through the Roman and Byzantine years. Inside the remains of the ancient citadel, today visitors can see the 2 stories ‘Giustiniani Palace’, the Ottoman tombs, the church of St George, the ‘Cold Fountain’ (a Byzantine underground cistern), and Koulas Tower.

Where: Chios, North Aegean
When: 10th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes. Open Tuesday-Sunday 8 am-3 pm

8. Castle of Mytilene

Greek Castles-Castle-of-Mytilene

One of the largest castles in the Eastern Mediterranean covering an area of 200,000 square meters,  the Byzantine castle/fortress that we see today was built on the remains of an ancient Acropolis. Captured by the Turks in 1462, the castle only became part of the Greek state in 1912 at which point it was used as military barracks. It is known as being the birthplace of  Terpandros, the founder of ancient Greek music and today many Summer cultural events take place within its grounds.

Where: Mytilene, Lesbos, North Aegean
When: 6th century
Style: Byzantine
Open for visit: Yes. Open Wednesday-Monday 8.30 am-3.30 pm (4 pm in Summer). Closed Tuesday.

9. Cythera (Kythira) Castle

Famous Castles in Greece-Cythera-Castle

Otherwise known as the castle of Kapsali, this castle/fortress was built by the Venetians on a 200-meter high ridge and became the administrative center of the island. It was known as ‘The Eye Of Crete’ during Venetian rule due to its strategic location with views of 3 seas simultaneously; the Ionian, the Aegean, and the Cretan sea. The fortress contains 4 churches within its walls and visitors can also see the prison area, houses, a Venetian cistern, and many cannons.

Where: Chora, Kythira (Cythera)
When: 12th-13th century
Style: Venetian
Open for visit: Yes. Open Monday-Sunday 8 am-8 pm in Summer and 8 am-3 pm in Winter.

10. Fyli Fortress

Best Greek Castles-Fyli-Castle

The ruins of this ancient Athenian fortress, otherwise known as Phyle, date back to the 4th century. A cliff castle built at an altitude of 687metres as part of wider defenses in the area, it was one of the strongest Athenian fortresses on the Boeotian frontier and protected the narrow pass across Mount Parnes, where the road from Thebes to Athens passed. Stand amongst history as you take in the view of the Athenian plain, including the city of Athens itself in the distance.

Where: Fyli, Mount Parnitha, Attica
When: 4th century
Style: Hellenistic
Open for visit: Yes. Unknown opening hours.

11. Gardiki Castle

Castles in Greece-Gardiki-Castle

One of three imposing medieval castles built to defend Corfu against pirate and Frankish attacks before the Venetian rule, Gardiki Castle is the only one which still remains today though it does stand in ruin with only the outer walls remaining. Built in an octangular layout, there would have been 8 towers, 2 gates can still be seen today with the idyllic countryside and village views all around.

Where: Agios Matheos, Corfu
When: 13th century
Style: Byzantine
Open for visit: Yes. Open 24/7

12. Ioannina Castle

Best castles in Greece-Ioannina-Castle

At the heart of this fortified old town lies the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece which became the largest administrative center in Greece during Ottoman rule when Ali Pasha lived here, and where his grave remains. As you move around the vast complex, visiting the on-site museums and seeing Voimoundos Tower, the Mosque of Aslan Pasha, the Faculty of Cavalry building and more learn the love story of Ali Pasha and how it was here that the letters of the Greek language were developed.

Where: Ioannina, Epirus
When: 6th century and 19th century
Style: Ottoman
Open for visit: Yes. Open daily 8 am-10 pm, however, each museum within the complex has different opening hours.

13. Kalamata Castle

Greek Castles-Kalamata-Castle

Built on a pine-covered hill, the ruins of Kalamata Castle look down on the North West side of the city. The ruins we see today are from the Frankish occupation and later Ottoman and Venetian occupations but an older Byzantine fort and ancient Acropolis have also stood on the hill, this once being the location of the ancient city of Fares. Much of the castle is deemed unsafe so visitors can only walk around the perimeter of the inside of the castle but from here you still get great views of Kalamata old town.

Where: Kalamata, Peloponnese
When: 13th century
Style: Frankish
Open for visit: Yes, open Tuesday-Sunday 8 am-8 pm in Summer (April-October) and 8 am-3 pm in winter (November-March). Closed Monday.

14. Kalymnos Castle

Famous Castles in Greece-Kalymnos-Castle

Otherwise known as Chrysocheri Castle, the steep hilltop castle at Chora in Kalymnos that we see today (in its ruined state) was built by the Order of the Knights of Saint John on the site of an older 11th century Byzantine castle, and was the residential center of Kalymnos until the 18th century. The castle grounds contain 10 well-preserved churches, including Panagia Kecharitomeni, a famous temple with a gold leaf interior and Panagia Chrysochera which contains Byzantine frescoes. The climb up 230 steps to access the castle is well worth the effort!

Where: Chora, Kalymnos, Dodecanese
When: 15th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, open 24/7

15. Karytaina Castle

Best Greek Castles-Karytaina-Castle

The remains of this large medieval castle dominate the mountainous landscape of Arcadia, the castle sitting 770 meters above sea level on a single steep cliff, a beautiful and breathtaking setting with stunning views out across the plain of Megalopolis – So beautiful that it’s called ‘The Toledo of Greece’. It was one of the most important fortresses of the Peloponnese not only during the Frankish and Ottoman rule but also during the Revolution of 1821. Wander around the outer parts of the castle as you take in the views.

Where: Karytaina, Megalopoli, Peloponnese
When: 13th century
Style: Frankish
Open for visit: Yes. Open Monday-Sunday, 8 am – sunset.

16. Kavala Castle

Castles in Greece-Kavala-Castle

This fortress, the landmark of Kavala (and otherwise known as The Acropolis of Kavala) has been rebuilt and reinforced many times since its initial Byzantine construction when it was the Acropolis of Christoupolis, most of what we see today coming from the Ottoman reign but the Venetians have also left their mark on the citadel during their reign of Kavala. Today, the castle is a modern visitor attraction with video and 3D models enhancing the historical architecture.

Where: Kavala, East Macedonia, and Thrace
When: 15th century
Style: Ottoman
Open for visit: Yes. Open Monday-Saturday 8 am – Sunset

17. Koroni Castle

Best castles in Greece-Koroni-Castle

The only castle in Greece that is still inhabited, Koroni Castle dates back to the 7th-century Byzantine period, built on the site of Ancient Assini or Asine as it’s otherwise known. What we see today is a fine example of Venetian fortification, the castle used as a supply center by the Venetians but becoming caught up in the Venetian / Turk conflict which saw the castle ruled by the Venetians and Turks twice around before it was liberated by the French. Today the castle also houses the Monastery (nunnery) of Timios Prodromos which can be visited along with the castle churches.

Where: Koroni, Messinia, Peloponnese
When: 13th century
Style: Venetian
Open for visit: Yes, open Monday-Sunday, 8 am -sunset

18. Larisa Castle

Greek Castles-Larissa-Castle

Dating back to pre-historic times when Larisa Castle was an ancient Acropolis of Argos, the ruins of the renovated Larissa Castle that we see today date back to the13th-16th centuries though a castle has stood here since the 10th century. Conquered multiple times, each new ruler made modifications to the castle so that it combines elements of Frankish, Venetian, and Ottoman architecture. The castle having been recently renovated allows visitors to see the interior buildings as well as the towers and battlements whilst also enjoying panoramic views across the whole Argive plain.

Where: Argos, Argos-Mykines, Peloponnese
When: 13th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes, open 24/7

19. Leros Castle

Famous Castles in Greece-Leros-Castle

Known officially as Pantelion Castle or The Castle of Panagia (the castle of the Virgin Mary), the ruins of Leros Castle dominate the landscape from its position 200 meters above sea level on top of Apitiki Hill. Built on the site of a much older Acropolis, it comprised a religious and intellectual cultural center with both a fortress and church. The castle was occupied by the Knights of St John and later, by the Ottomans.

Where: Leros, Dodecanese
When: 11th century
Style: Medieval
Open for visit: Yes. Open 8.30am-1pm and 4pm-7.30pm daily

20. Lindos Castle

Best Greek Castles-Lindos-Castle

Hike up to the ruins of this ancient citadel built atop a 116-meter cliff and marvel at the scenery with sea views one side, and the view across the roofs of the white Lindos houses on the other. Amongst the 4th-century temple ruins of the goddess Athena Lindia, 2 towers remain of the castle, known officially as the Governor’s Palace which was built by the Knights of St John in the 14th century. Lindos Castle was also an important base for military and naval operations.

Where: Lindos, Rhodes, Dodecanese
When: 4th century & 14th century
Style: Hellenistic & Medieval
Open for visit: Yes. Open 8 am-8 pm Summer (April-October) and 8 am-3 pm Winter (November-March)

21. Methoni Castle

Castles in Greece-Methoni-Castle

This impressive and photogenic fortress, with its beautiful 14 arch stone bridge that connects the castle to the shore and its fortified prison islet called Bourtzi, is one of the largest fortresses in the Mediterranean and one of the most important forts in Greece. Homer mentioned Methoni, then the ancient city of Pidasos, as 1 of the 7 cities that Agamemnon offered to Achilles, but what we see today comes mostly from the Venetians with Frankish and Ottoman rule following before Methoni became part of the Greek state.

Where: Methoni, Messenia, Peloponnese
When: 13th century
Style: Venetian/Ottoman
Open for visit: Yes. Open Wednesday-Monday 8.30 am -sunset Summer or 8 am-3 pm Winter. Closed Tuesday

22. Mithymna Castle / Molyvos Castle

Best castles in Greece-Mithymna-Castle

This impressive Medieval fortress with its 10 towers and stunning views is the 2nd largest castle on Lesvos and protects the Northside of the island, above the town of Molyvos/Mithymna. Occupied since before the Trojan War, what is seen today dates mostly from the Genoan rule with later Ottoman additions.

Where: Molyvos (Mithymna), Lesvos
When: 14th century
Style: Genoan
Open for visit: Yes. Open Monday-Sunday 8 am-8 pm May-October and 8.30 am-3 pm November-April.

23. Castle of Rhodes – Palace of the Grand Master of the nights

Greek Castles-Castle-of-Rhodes-–-Grand-Master-of-the-Knights

The impressive castle with its towers and Gothic architecture (one of only a few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece) stands on the site of an older Byzantine fortress, the Knights of St John having converted the Byzantine citadel into what is seen today from 1309 to 1522. The castle/palace was a huge stronghold with its triple circuit of walls and was used as an administrative center also being the residence, the palace, of the Grand Masters. Later, during the Ottoman Empire, the castle was used as a prison but in 1856 an explosion nearly destroyed the palace. It was extensively restored during the 20th-century Italian occupation as a holiday home for King Victor Emmanuel II and later, Mussolini.

Where: Rhodes Old Town, Rhodes, Dodecanese
When: 14th century
Style: Gothic
Open for visit: Tuesday-Sunday 8 am-3 pm Winter (November-March) and Daily 8 am-8 pm April-October.

24. Castle of Nafplio / Palamidi Fort

Famous Castles in Greece-Castle-of-Nafplio

Built during the 2nd Venetian occupation, Palamidi Fortress in Nafplio sits on the crest of a hill measuring 216 meters high in dominating position overlooking the old town. Make your way to the huge citadel via the 857 steps if you’re fit enough, else drive up, you won’t be disappointed with the views along the way or the well-preserved architecture when you arrive. Inside the castle grounds, you’ll be able to see where Theodoros Kolokotronis (a well-known hero of the Greek revolution) was imprisoned and can also admire the small St Andrews church.

Where: Nafplio, Peloponnese
When: 18th century
Style: Venetian
Open for visit: Yes. Open daily, 8.30 am -Sunset

25. Castle of Nafpaktos / Lepanto Castle

Best Greek Castles-Castle-of-Lepanto

Built on a hill shaped liked a pyramid, the city of Nafpaktos was fortified beginning in ancient times to protect the harbor below. The beautiful and well preserved 5-level castle seen today was built by the Venetians and maintained and modified during the Ottoman rule. The views overlooking the harbor are breathtaking but the fort itself is also impressive for anyone who loves history and architecture.

Where: Nafpaktos, Aetolia-Akarnania
When: 15th century
Style: Venetian
Open for visit: Yes. Open Wednesday-Sunday 8 am-3.30 pm. Closed Tuesday.

26. Monemvasia Fortress

Castles in Greece-Monemvasia-Fortress

Known as ‘the castle of flowers’, this medieval fortress is one of the most important castles/citadels in Greece whilst also being one of the most beautiful. Built 100 meters above sea level in a rockface by the Byzantines, it has been occupied by the Franks, Venetians, and Ottomans and is still inhabited today by a few Greek families. Monemvasia has always been well protected from raids hence many of the town walls and Byzantine churches still surviving.

Where: Monemvasia, Laconia, Peloponnese
When: 10th – 17th century
Style: Byzantine
Open for visit: Yes. Open daily 8.30 am-3 pm Winter (November-May) and 9 am-4 pm Summer (June-October)

27. Monolithos Castle

Best castles in Greece-Monolithos-Castle

Wander the ruins of this picturesque 100-meter high cliff-top castle and admire the views out to sea. Rebuilt on the site of an older Byzantine castle by the Knights of Rhodes in 1480 on the South-West of the island to protect from pirates and other enemies. Monolithos Castle is not well preserved but visitors can still find beauty amongst the ruins with the outer walls and tower remains whilst also admiring the 2 chapels and seeing the old cisterns.

Where: Monolithos, Rhodes, Dodecanese
When: 15th century
Style: Venetian
Open for visit: Yes. Open 24/7

28. Mystras Castle

Greek Castles-Mystras-Castle

The most important Byzantine monument in Greece, Mystras Castle (a fortress and  a palace) was built by the Frankish Prince of Achaea, William II of Vilehardouin in 1249. Mystras became an extremely prosperous Byzantine capital during the 14th and 15th centuries, so popular that only Constantinople was more important, and remained inhabited through the Ottoman and Venetian periods. Explore the 3 levels of Mystras, taking in the remains of the Frankish castle at the top which dominates the hill, the 13th-15th century Despots’ Palaces with throne room, and the numerous churches.

Where: Mystras, Laconia, Peloponnese
When: 13th century
Style: Byzantine
Open for visit: Yes. Open 8am-3pm Winter (November-March) and 8am-8pm Summer (April-October)

29. Fortezza of Rethymno

Famous Castles in Greece-Fortezza-of-Rethymno

One of the largest fortresses built during Venetian rule (so large that it was able to house and protect the entire population of the town) the star-shaped citadel was built to protect against Turkish attack in 1573 on the site of an ancient Acropolis and temple yet was never needed to play an active role in defence. With an impressive exterior, inside visitors can see the amphitheater, the Ottoman mosque of Sultan Ibrahim, and the modern church of St Catherine along with other reconstructed buildings including the governor’s house and remains of the ammunition and gunpowder warehouses.

Where: Rethymno, Crete
When: 16th century
Style: Venetian
Open for visit: Yes. Open daily 8.30am-3pm Winter (November-March) and 8am-7.15pm Summer (April-October)

30. Eptapyrgio or Yedi Kule

Best Greek Castles-Eptapyrgio-or-Yedi-Kule

Eptapyrgio castle meaning ‘7 towers’ is the modern Greek name of this castle but it is still goes by it’s old  Ottoman name too; Yedi Kule. Confusingly, the castle actually has 10 towers rather than 7!  When the fortress was used as a prison in the 1890’s, all original interior buildings were removed hence only the outer Byzantine fortifications are visible today but you can still see the 19th century prisons.

Where: Upper City, Thessaloniki
When: 14th-16th century
Style: Byzantine / Ottoman
Open for visit: Yes. Open daily 8 am-3 pm