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Nafplion – Part I: The first Capital of Greece

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Nafplion is one of my favourite towns in Greece.  I fell in love with this town the very first time I visited it many, many years ago.   Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, I have visited it during all seasons and each season is equally attractive and beautiful.

This post is long due but rather late than, I would like to guide you through what I have captured with my lens over the past years.

On the 25th March, Greece’s will be celebrating its Independence Day, so before my post I would like to make a short historical reference to what lead to Indpendence Day and making Nafplion as the first capital of Greece.

“After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, most of Greece came under Ottoman rule.  During this time, there were frequent revolts by Greeks attempting to gain independence.    In 1814, a secret organization called the Filiki Eteria (the Society of Friends, was founded by Greeks living abroad at Odissos, Russia (now Ukraine) and expanded rapidly with Phanariot Greeks of Constantinople and local chieftains from Greece),  with the aim of liberating Greece. The Filiki Eteria planned to launch revolts in the Peloponnese, the Danubian Principalities and Constantinople.   The first of these revolts began on 6 March 1821 in the Danubian Principalities, but it was soon put down by the Ottomans. The events in the north urged the Greeks in the Peloponnese in action and on 17 March 1821 the Maniots declared war on the Ottomans.  By the end of the month, the Peloponnese was in open revolt against the Turks and by October 1821 the Greeks under Theodoros Kolokotronis had captured Tripolitsa. The Peloponnesian revolt was quickly followed by revolts in Crete, Macedonia and Central Greece, which would soon be suppressed. Meanwhile, the makeshift Greek navy  was achieving success against the Ottoman navy in the Aegean Sea and prevented Ottoman reinforcements from arriving by sea.

A contributor to this success was Laskarina Bouboulina, a member of Filiki Etaeria, who was a wealthy woman  from Hydra.  She organized an army, which she paid out of her own money and by the end of the revolution she had spent all her fortune.  She sailed from  her island with eight ships (3 of them her own)  to Nafplion and began a naval blockade. She led her own troops until the fall of the fort on 30 November 1822.

After their victories, tensions soon developed among different Greek factions, leading to two consecutive civil wars, until 1829.  Following years of negotiation, three Great Powers, Russia, the United Kingdom and France, decided to intervene in the conflict and each nation sent a navy to Greece.     Scores of non-Greeks volunteered to fight for the cause, including Lord Byron.

Following news that combined Ottoman–Egyptian fleets were going to attack the Greek island of Hydra, the allied fleet intercepted the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet at Navarino. Following a week long standoff, a battle began which resulted in the destruction of the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet. With the help of a French expeditionary force, the Greeks drove the Turks out of the Peloponnese and proceeded to the captured part of Central Greece by 1828.   As a result of years of negotiations, Greece was finally recognized as an independent nation in May 1832.

During the Greek War of Independence, Nafplion was a major Ottoman stronghold and was besieged for more than a year. The town finally surrendered because of starvation. After its capture, because of its strong fortifications, it became the seat of the provisional government of Greece.

The Russian minister for foreign affairs, Count Ioannis Kapodistrias, himself a Greek, returned home and became the first head of state of newly-liberated Greece.  He set foot on the Greek mainland for the first time in Nafplio on 7 January 1828 and made it the official capital of Greece in 1829. He was subsequently assassinated by members of the Mavromichalis family on the steps of the church of Saint Spyridon in Nafplio on 9 October 1831.   After his assassination a period of anarchy followed and that republic disappeared when the European powers helped turn Greece into a monarchy; the first king, Otto came from Bavaria and the second, George I from Denmark.  Nafplion remained the capital of the kingdom until 1834, when the new Kingdom of Greece was established and King Otto decided to move the capital to Athens.

The Greek Revolution is celebrated on 25 March by the modern Greek state, which is a national day.”

Source:  Wikipedia and other information from The Encyclopaedia of Helios,.

Nafplion is the capital of the prefecture of Argolis and the province of Nafplion.

Bourtzi (view from Akronafplia)

Nafplion is about 150 km to the South-West of Athens and enjoys a very sunny and mild climate, even by Greek standards.  As a consequence it has become a popular day – or weekend road trip destination for the Athenians who want nearby getaways to explore the most beautiful town in Peloponnese..

The high prices in Athenian real estate near seashore suburbs and its proximity from Athens,  only an hour and a half drive, has made it a very popular destination to the Athenians who are buying summer houses in Nafplion and the nearby villages.

Nafplion  is a small town of about 20.000 inhabitants but during the peak period a few millions of tourists visit the area and the town becomes overcrowded.

The closest International airport to Nafplion is Athens, Eleftherios Venizelos.  From there you can travel by bus, train (presently, March 2011, canceled till further notice) or rent a car or take organized tours by travel agents.
The city was named after Nafplios, son of Poseidon and Amymonis, and was also famous as the birthplace of Palamidis, the local hero of the Trojan Wars, was the  son of Nafplios (5th decendant of first Nafplios and Clymenis .   The fortress was named after Palamidis and commands an impressive view over the Argolic Gulf, the city of Náfplio and the surrounding country.

In ancient Greek, the city was named Nauplia Ναυπλία  (mentioned by Herodotos as  Ναυπλιή).  During the Byzantine era, several variants were used, including Nafplion, Anaplion, Anaplia – Anapli  Ναύπλιον, Ἀνάπλιον, and Ἀνάπλια.

In Latin, the town was referred to as Nauplia.  In modern Greek, the town is now called Nafplio Ναύπλιο. This name can be transliterated in several ways, as usual with Greek names.   According to the majority, it derives from ναύς (ship) + πλέω (navigate ) which means a safe place for ships to anchor.  According to Greek Mythology Nafplios was from Evia and was an astronomer (he discovered the constellation of ursa minor) and also an excellent navigator.    He sailed from Evia where he  decided to build his town on the rocks now called Acronafplia (edge of Nafplio) and the town was named after him.  According to others (ναύς + πόλις ) the town of the sailor.

In modern English, Nauplia, Navplion or Nafplio/Nafplion are the most frequently used spellings. Slightly different forms are found in other modern languages influenced by Latin, including Anapli, Nauplia (in Spanish), Nauplie (in French), and Nauplio. Some of these variants were also used in English during the periods of Venetian and Ottoman domination.

In Italian, the town is known as Napoli di Romania.   They wanted to name it Napoli, after the Italian city (Naples) but in order to distinguish the two cities, they called it Napoli di Romania, as Romania was used to define the eastern Roman territories which later became the Byzantine Empire or Empire of Rhomania.

The Turkish name of the town is Mora Yenişehri. Mora is derived from Morea, the old name of the Peloponnese. Yenişehir means “new city”

The old town is around the port and is one of a few Greek towns which has preserved its old style.

By following the signs to the port you will find one of  the biggest parking lots I had ever seen in Greece, starting from the edge of the port, down the Train Station and ending up to the Promenade road.

Old Railway Station

View of the parking lot from Palamidi (2006)

It would be quite difficult to walk around each part of the old city in one day but you can take the tourist train by which you will pass from most parts of the old town or for a more romantic ride, take a horse carriage.

You can see the train tour in a 12  minutes video I have taken a few years ago (2008) and for more photos you may see them in my Flickr album with more than 175 pictures.


End of Parking Place:  point of departure for tour train – horse carriages and boats to Bourtzi )

You will find the tourist trains where the promenade road starts.     At the same  point you can take a boat for a tour at Bourtzi and opposite the cafeterias  you will see the horse carriages.

Walking from the beginning of the port within the parking lot you will have a lovely view of Bourtzi and sailing ships.  On the opposite side of the road between palm trees, there are lots of restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and near the school you will see the statue of Bouboulina.

If you are staying in Nafplion for a few days, you can take one day cruises to Hydra and Spetses.  The boats are in the main port.

Sea front tavernas, opposite the port

On the seafront starting from the train station and walking to the end of the promenade you will find lots of seafood restaurants, tavernas, cafeterias and souvenir shops.  Fresh fish are displayed outside of each restaurant for you to choose and be cooked right away in order to enjoy a fresh seafood meal.

Continuing on the seafront road, the road on the left continues towards the Church Genesiou Theotokou (birth of Holy Mary) & Agios Anastasios  and straight ahead starts the promenade.

Church Genesiou Theotokou (birth of Holy Mary) & Agios Anastasios

The promenade during winter

The promenade is a nice place to walk any time of the day and walk or just visit the many cafterias and restaurants between palm trees.

As you leisurly stroll along the waterfront you can see the hotels on the top of Acronafplia or the Boutzi fortress, the mountains of Peloponese and the  blue-turquoise sea on the other side.

At the end of the promenade are part of the Walls, with wonderful view of the hotels and on the other side the light pole for the ships entering the harbour.


Hotels on top of Acronafplia

View from Acronafplia

The ascent to Acronafplia can be a leisurely stroll through the upper city but you can either take a taxi or the elevator from Koustouros Street.


End of Promenade and Acronafplia

View Larger Map

On the foothills of the northwestern side of Acronafplia is an old part of the city called “Psaromahalas”, which means the neighbourhood of the fishermen.  This is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Nafplion or Anapli, as it is called by the locals, where the  fishermen used to live, as it was closest to the fishing shores, where they could anchor their fishing boats.

Bourdji from Psaromahalas

You can get there from Staikopoulou street or at the end of the promenade, you will find some stairs which will lead you up to the “five brothers” which are five canons, next to each other, an ideal place to admire the view from above.


Opposite the canons you will find Psaromahalas square and walking along the narrow streets you will find lovely narrow, paved streets with beautiful old houses with gardens, shaded by colourful bougainvilleas.

Narrow street at Psaromahalas

Nafplio and bougainvilleas

The old neighbourhood existed before the Turkish occupation.  The church of Agia Sophia, from the Byzantine era, was the only one the Turks allowed the Christians to hold worship.

Harbour Light Pole

View of the town from Acronafplia

View of Acronafplia and Arvanitia Beach from Palamidi

Continuing the Promenade road on your left there is a beautiful walking path under Acronafplia, towards Arvanitia beach, which can also lead you to the town centre again.

Light pole Arvanitia


The Acronauplia (Modern Greek: Ακροναυπλία, Akronafplia, Turkish: Iç Kale, “Inner Castle”) is the oldest part of the city of Nafplion in Greece. Until the thirteenth century, it was a town on its own. The arrival of the Venetians and the Franks transformed it into part of the town fortifications. Later, part of it was used as a prison until the Greek government decided that the view provided from its location would benefit the local tourism and built a hotel complex which still stands there today.

The Cyclopean Walls are mentioned in Greek mythology but archaeological findings have shown that the city was inhabited since the Mycenean civilization  (between 1600 – 1100 b.C.).

From any part of the seafront or up on Acronafplia it’s even pretier in the evening watching the sun set in mountains of Peloponnese.


Part two here!!

Logos cooking classes



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Saturday 19th of November 2016

Wow, really amazing post. all pics are so nice and beautiful and I hope to visit Nafplion one day and attend your cooking classes.

Cooking class in Naplion

Tuesday 22nd of September 2015

This is the one of the best places to visit in Peloponnese. Whether travelling solo or with a group, trust us to provide you with a unique cooking class and enjoy homemade Greek food.

Norman Finch

Tuesday 7th of April 2015

WOW! I must say each picture you captured is nice. I feel like I'm experiencing real time travel taste through watching these pictures. Nafplion is one of the favorite locations in Greece. I've not explored it broadly, but still I like this city because of sea view all around living places. High hills and top of that people made homes & hotels.

It's totally amazing to travel on that destination. Thanks mate for sharing such nice pictures from your journey.

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