Late Medieval Bastioned Fortifications in Greece
Late Medieval Bastioned Fortifications in Greece is part of the Tentative list of Greece in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
The late medieval fortifications in Greece are a selection of nine sites in strategically important locations in the western Mediterranean: on the coast of the Peloponnese, on the Ionian Islands, Crete and the Dodecanese. The increasing use of gunpowder in warfare made it necessary to reinforce and enlarge existing fortifications. Until the 16th century, many of the coastal towns were expanded into bastioned fortresses. The best-known examples of this selection are Rhodes and Corfu, both of which inscribed as WHS in their own right.
Map of Late Medieval Bastioned Fortifications in GreeceLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
The Mitilini Castle of Lesvos
In order to visit Philippi from the island of Chios where I stayed for a month in October 2020, I took a 12-hour ferry ride from Chios through the islands of Lesvos and Limnos to Kavala.
2 and 1/2 months after I made this trip I realized that the castle I had seen near Mitilini, the main city of Lesvos and the port of call for this ferry, was a TWHS.
Even though I didn't even set my foot on the island of Lesvos, I just wanted to share this photo I took of the Late Medieval Bastioned Fortification.
Lesvos has been in the news in the recent years as the first place in the EU where many immigrants from the Middle East arrive. Less than 2 months before I was there, the Moria Camp, the main refugee camp 5 km away from Mitilini, was burnt by the protesting locals. But Mitilini looked quite peaceful from the ferry on this sunny day.
Other fortifications included in this nomination that I have been to are the ones in Rhodes and Corfu.
Read more from Tsunami here.
When exploring the Eastern Peloponnese I based myself in Nafplio. Three components of the tentative site are in town, one in the bay on an island. and two on hills overlooking the town
These fortifications were important as they were used by the Byzantines and later the Venetians to foster trade. Being accessible by sea, they could be supplied from sea and could keep their independence, even if the land outside the city walls was governed by a different entity, e.g. Slavs, Arabs or Ottomans.
While the fortifications in and around Nafplio are nice, they pale in comparison to Rhodes and Corfu. Corfu is the Venetian fortification in Greece. Rhodes is the crusader castle. Both are already inscribed. I don't see what inscribing them a second time would bring as benefit. Nafplio on it's own would not make the list. And looking at Ilya's review, neither would the Crete ones.
For Rhodes and Corfu, see their respective page. For Nafplio, you have frequent connections to Athens by bus and one connection per day to Tripoli.
While You Are There
Nafplio is a pleasant town and a good base to visit the two WHS in the area (Mycene and Epidauros). In Argos, you also find another serial tentative site in the amphitheatres of Greece.
My visit to this site was rather marginal. During a stay in central Crete in the summer of 2018, I explored Heraklion for about half a day. Included in the itinerary for that excursion was a stop at the fortress of Rocca al Mare, or Koules, which guards the city harbor.
The cost to enter is fairly negligible and the required time allocation does not exceed an hour, so even though it is not rising to the level of exceptional, on balance it is a reasonable point of interest to explore. The interior spaces hold a small historical and archaeological exposition (in addition to offering a cool respite from the summer heat). The ramparts offer excellent perspectives onto the town and out to the sea. It is from the ramparts that you can best observe the remains of Heraklion's town walls along its quays. The glass-covered dozen or so skylights in the roof add a bit of unwelcome modern touch to the impression made by the fort.
I have mixed feelings about fortifications on the WH list when they do not present as a fully integrated ensemble with the city that they are meant to protect. Based on this minimal evidence, I do not feel that Heraklion's fortifications are worth the WH status, but I obviously have to reserve my opinion of the full site until I visit other proposed locations.
Read more from Ilya Burlak here.
2014 Added to Tentative List
The site has 11 locations
43 Community Members have visited.