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The acropolis of ancient Corinth, is sited on a huge 575m high rock overlooking the city of Ancient Corinth. It was first a Greek acropolis, then a Roman citadel and later it became a Byzantine fortress. The site is a typical example of castle architecture built in successive phases, as it was the fortress of both ancient and medieval Corinth and the most important fortification work in the area from antiquity until the War of Independence in 1821.
The outer walls total approximately 3,000 metres in length, making it the largest fortress in the Peloponnese and one of the most important in the region, strategically situated at the entrance to the Morea.
The first phase in the history of the walls dates to the 7th-6th century BC, which was a time of prosperity for the city of Corinth.
The next important phase dates to the 4th or the first half of the 3rd century; in 146 BC the walls were destroyed by the Roman Lucius Mummius. Justinian is believed to have carried out repair works in the 6th century, and substantial efforts at fortification were made in the Middle Byzantine period (8th-12th century).
The approach to the fortress is from the west side, The walls have an 'irregular shape', which was dictated by the form of the terrain and remained the same in general terms from the Classical period to modern times.
With its secure water supply, Acrocorinth's fortress was used as the last defending line in southern Greece repelling foes from entering the Peloponnesian peninsula.
Three defensive walls lead via three gates to the interior, covering 240,000 square metres, where building ruins of all periods still survive.
Three successive areas of fortification, with three imposing gateways, lead to the interior of the fortress. The fact that the same material was used for extensions or repairs to the walls frequently makes it difficult to distinguish the building phases or assign a date to them.
The first gate was built in the 14th century. A moat was cut out of the rock to provide a defense against attack. In 1965-66 the bridge over the dry moat and the guard house at the entrance were restored.
The Venetians were responsible for building the second gate which has a tower to one side.
Gate three has two rectangular towers on either side. The one on the right is mostly from the 4th century BC, while the other one is Byzantine. Most of the walls in this area are also Byzantine.
Sections of the wall date from ancient pre-Christian times, the Byzantine period, the Franks, the Venetian domination and the Turkish occupation. On the south-west side of the castle a two-storey keep and enclosure built by the Franks was modified under Ottoman rule.
The keep of the castle is in the Frankish sections where there are the remains of the castle of the Villehardouin, who held it in the 13th to 14th century. From here there are magnificent views over the gulf of Corinth.
During the Middle Ages, the Acrocorinth was of prime importance for the defence of the entire Peloponnese, and held out against the attacks of the barbarians. The Byzantines sporadically repaired the walls, especially after hostile raids (by the Slavs, Normans and others), and added new fortifications on the west side of the fortress.
The interior of the castle still contains the spring of Ano Peirini, several Christian churches, a Byzantine underground cistern, mosques, fountains, Turkish houses and many more ruined buildings.
The oldest building that is still visible on the surface, stands on the western and highest peak, which was home was home to a temple dedicated to Aphrodite which has an early Christian basilica on its ruins. The temple was converted to a church, and then became a mosque.
The temple was in the process of being rebuilt in 2014. It has been rumoured that the temple area was the centre of religious prostitution and it was claimed that 1,000 prostitues worked here. As a result Acrocorinth had a notorious reputation!!
From here the views are fantastic. You can see beyond Corinth to Mount Parnassus in the north, then towards Attica in the east, and on to the mountains of the Peloponnese in the south.
Steps lead down into a chamber in the Peirene Spring, there is also a lower chamber which is flooded.
There is a legend associated with this spring in that the winged horse Pegasus stamped its hoof and created the spring but while he was drinking from the water he was captured by Bellerophon.
Courses of roughly dressed polygonal masonry allow us to suppose that the Acrocorinth was fortified as early as the late 7th century to the early 6th century BC. The surviving parts of the ancient fortifications, however, which are at many points beneath the medieval walls belong mainly to the 4th century BC.
In 1210, after a five-year siege, the Acrocorinth was captured by Otto de la Roche and Geoffrey I Villehardouin, and was incorporated in the Frankish principate of Achaea. In the middle of this century, William Villehardouin extended the fortifications of the fortress, to be followed in this by the Angevin Prince John Gravina at the beginning of the 14th century.
In 1358 the Acrocorinth passed to the Florentine banker Niccolo Acciajuoli, and in 1394 to Theodoros I Palaiologos, despot of Mystras.
Apart from a brief occupation by the Knights of Rhodes from 1400-1404, the fortress was to remain in Byzantine hands until 1458, when it was captured by the Ottoman Turks.
The Venetians made themselves masters of the Acrocorinth from 1687 to 1715, after which it reverted once more to the Turks, until the Greek Uprising of 1821.
During the Greek War of Independence, the Ottoman forces occupying Acrocorinth surrendered and left the fortress in January 1822. The fortified Acrocorinth then lost its strategic importance, a new city was built a few kilometres to the north-east of Ancient Corinth, and the Acrocorinth fell in ruins. Only at the end of the 19th century, in 1896, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens started the first serious excavations on the Acrocorinth.
To preserve Acrocorinth numerous sections of the walls and a number of buildings have been restored. The Peirene spring between the peaks was restored in 1930. In 1965 and 1966, the bridge over the moat and the guardhouse at the first tower were worked on.
In the 1970s, the first two towers and the sections of walls surrounding them were focused on. Further measures, such as the replacement of the wooden bridge at the entrance, were carried out between 1993 and 1995. The outside of the Venetian's Agios Dimitrios chapel has also been renovated.
Access is from the Corinth to Patras National Road through Ancient Corinth. Acrocorith is well worth the drive up the hill. I visited at the end of September and it was not too hot and not many visitors. The site is very big with a lot of ground to cover. You definitely need water and a strong pair of shoes as some of the paths are quite difficult as they are very rough and with lots of stones.
Tickets are: Full Price : €2, Reduced: €1 Opening hours 8am to 3pm all year round. And there is a very nice cafe near the car park.