methoni castle

Methoni is a small town located at the southwest end of the Peloponnese, continuously inhabited since the early antiquity. Its castle of 9.3 hectares is one of the most important fortresses in the Mediterranean. It is situated on a peninsula of 500 m length, on the east side of which a small port was formed. For many centuries Methoni was one of the basic staging posts on the routes of the trading ships in the Mediterranean, as well as by pilgrims to the Holy Land. The castle reached its peak of development during the first Venetian period from the 13th – 15th century CE. Methoni and the neighboring castle of Koroni were known as “the two eyes” of the Serenissima Republica of Venice in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Homer calls the city “Pedassos”, including it in the list of towns offered by Agamemnon to Achilles in order to appease his wrath. The 2nd century Greek writer Pausanias mentions it by the name “Mothoni”, from the homonymous rock (Mothon lithos) at the entrance of the city’s port. During the Byzantine period Methoni’s fortification was strengthened, while the city became the seat of a bishop. Under the Venetians (1206-1500) it was developed into an important commercial center, as indicated by foreign travelers and archive sources. In 1500 CE Methoni was occupied by the Ottomans. It continued to be part of the Ottoman Empire for the following three centuries, with a short break of Venetian occupation from 1685 to 1715. During this period the Venetian engineers drastically upgraded the fortification of the city, applying an impressive constructive project. In 1825, the castle was used as a base by the Turkish-Egyptian forces of Ibrahim during his campaign in the Peloponnese. In November 1828, it was surrendered without resistance to the French forces.

Access to the inner part of the fortress was provided by a bridge supported by 14 arches. On either side of the entrance two large defensive complexes are preserved.  The main gate of the castle was constructed by the Venetians around 1714. Passing through successive gates visitors enter the center of the commercial and social life of Methoni. At this central point a roman column of reddish granite stands, crowned by a Venetian capital bearing the date 1493. A small gunpowder magazine with a pyramidal roof, dating to the Ottoman period, is preserved to the west of the square.

Along the main street of the town, cross-streets give access to the harbor, where the two gates “Porta Stoppa”  and “Porta del Mandrachio” can be seen. Along this main street, two Ottoman baths are preserved, as well as the remains of the impressive church of Saint John the Theologian, initially the cathedral of the city. During the Ottoman period it was converted into a mosque, of which only the minaret’s base today survives. At the south end of the castle stands the impressive “Sea Gate” (Porta di San Marco), leading through a stone bridge to the Bourtzi, an imposing coastal fortress of the early 16th century.

(Most Text taken from the official leaflet)