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Nafplio: The Most Romantic City of Peloponnese
This might be the most romantic city of Peloponnese and one of the most famous places to visit all year around. According to mythology the city was founded by Nafplios, son of god Poseidon and the daughter of Danaus, Danaida. Nafplio, with the beautiful architecture and the three fortresses of Palamidi, Acronauplia and Bourtzi, which were built by the Venetians, still has the aura of the first capital of the newly liberated Greece. Nafplio remained the capital of Greece until 1834 when King Otto declared Athens the official capital of the country.
Visitors can go up the 999 stairs to the pompous Palamidi and admire the aristocratic city of Nafplio, actually it is kind of a must. From Acronafplia the view of the city is also breathtaking.There are many renovated houses located at the old town of Nafplio that are now turned into beautiful guesthouses where travelers can stay. The old town is full of life, with cafés and bars that are always crowded, as well as traditional taverns that are conveniently located across the Castle of Bourtzi. The central pedestrian area of King Constantine Avenue is a spot of reference since it crosses the whole old town and ends to Syntagma Square, which strongly resembles an Italian piazza. Here is located the Archaelogical Museum, the first Parliament of the liberated Greek nation and the old Mosque which survived from the time the city was under the Ottoman rule.
When you walk down Nafplio's picturesque little streets you might feel like you are lost in a different time, an older time. There are Turkish fountains and hamams everywhere, reminders of the Ottoman rule, as well as beautiful historical churches. The two parks that welcome visitors as soon as they enter the city (the park of Kolokotroni and the park of OSE) are ideal for walking around and enjoying nature.
Nafplio is not as famous for its beaches as many other places in Greece. Still, if you are in for a dive, you won't be completely disappointed. The most popular beaches of Nafplio are the organized beach Arvanitias, a small bay with white pebbles and turquoise waters, and the long sandy beach Karathona that lies in a bay south of the city (3 km from Nafplion) and is ideal for water sports lovers.
When to go
You can visit Nafplio all year around, it is always beautiful and mesmerizing. However, spring is probably the ideal season to make such a trip. On the plus side, Nafplio is a very affordable destination not only for a holiday or a weekend, but even for coffee, for lunch or just for a ride due to its close proximity to Athens.
What to see
- Palamidi: Better leave the car and climb the stairs up to the fortress of Palamidi, which still stands strong and in great condition, and enjoy the beautiful view. You can also visit the historical little church of Saint Andrew and don’t forget to pay a visit to the cell where Theodoros Kolokotronis, the leader of the Great War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, was imprisoned.
- Bourtzi: This is probably the trademark of Nafplio. The name has Turkish origins and in the Turkish language means tower. Interesting fact: it actually served as a hotel from 1930 to 1970.
- Archaeological Museum: This Museum is accommodated in a gracious Venetian building of 1713, located in Syntagma Square of the old town, one of the most beautiful Venetian buildings in Greece. You can find a wide range of exhibits from the Stone Age to the Roman Period.
- Military Museum: It presents the history of the Military School of Evelpidon and the involvement of the citizens of Argolida to the fights of the Greek Nation against the Ottoman Empire in 1821 and against Germany in 1940.The Museum is located in the building of the first Military School of Evelpidon.
- The Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation: This Foundation has been awarded in an international level. It exhibits almost 27.000 objects which are related to the folklore and contemporary Greek culture and are presented in a unique way. Amongst the exhibits, two collections stand out the most. The costume collection and the toy collection from all over the world are of great importance.
- Kompoloi Museum: It is the first and only museum about these strings of beads in the world which was established in 1998 by Mr and Mrs Evaggelinos. The Museum acquires a unique collection of almost a thousand worry beads as they are often called. They are collected from all over the world. There is also a Workshop located in the ground floor of the Museum. These strings of beads are part of the Greek culture since are used by Greeks to pass their time and entertain themselves.
- The National Gallery: The National Gallery of Nafplio city was established in 2004 and is accommodated in a neoclassical building that was kindly offered by the Municipality of Nafplio. They acquire a remarkable collection of paintings inspired by the Greek’s fight for independence. The painting’s collection completes a beautiful collection of sculptures and an interesting collection of the Greek fighter’s weaponry.
- Saint Spyridon Church: Outside of this church the first ruler of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was murdered in 1831. It was built around 1702, the time of the Venetian Empire.
- Syntagma Square: This is the historical square of Nafplio city, which is the heart of the old town. You will see important buildings such as the Venetian Warehouse of the Navy where is today accommodated the Archaeological Museum, the first Parliament which was an old Mosque Temple and now functions as a conference space. In the ground floor is also accommodated the Municipal Gallery of Nafplio.
- Acronafplia: Acronafplia, which in Turkish language means the Inner Castle, is a rocky peninsula. Until the 15th century it was considered to be a city. You should not forget to visit Acronauplia’s Castle which is maintained in an excellent condition.
- Ancient Tyrins: One of the most significant archaeological places in Argolida, Ancient Tyrins is definitely worth visiting. Tyrins was recognized as one of the World Heritage Monuments by UNESCO. It is located around 4km outside Nafplio and you can get there by any bus that travels between Nafplio and Argos. There you can admire the mythical Cyclopian Walls.
Besides Mycenae and Ancient Tyrins, if you are fascinated by ancient history, you can also go to Argos and pay a visit to the archaeological monuments there. It is worth passing by the restored military barracks, built by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the Agora and the Archaeological Museum (with many exhibits from the Greek Dark Age), the ancient theatre, the Heraion of Argos, a temple dedicated to Hera and Lerna which is considered to be the lair of the mythical creature Lernaean Hydra and was killed by Hercules.
You can get to Nafplio either by car, bus (KTEL) or train (OSE). The trip takes a maximum of two hours by car and approximately three hours by bus. If you decide to take the train, double check as trains are frequently down for maintenance.