One of most beautiful towns in the area of Argolis, Peloponnese, as well as one of the most romantic cities in Greece is Nafplio.
Nafplio is a town of rich history and occupation, beginning in 8th century BC. According to mythology, the town was founded by Náfplios, the son of the god Poseidon. The town’s history traces back to the the Argonautic expedition and the Trojan War. The town declined during the Roman times and flourished again during the Byzantine times.
In 1204, the Byzantine Empire fell and was occupied by the Franks, then Venetians and then the Turks until the Greek revolution in 1822, and became the first capital of Greece. Frankish, Venetian and Turkish conquerors left their mark in Nafplio and strongly influenced its culture, architecture and traditions. Ancient walls, medieval castles, Ottoman fountains, Venetian and neoclassical buildings make Nafplio a truly unique town.
There are many reasons why Nafplio should be on your travel radar, but here are 5 reasons to visit Nafplio, Greece.
5 Reasons to Visit Nafplio Greece
Παλαμήδι is a fortress nestled on the crest of a 216-metre high hill in the heart of Nafplio. It was built by the Venetians during their second occupation of the area from 1686–1715.
One of the eight bastions of the fortress was used as a prison for Theodoros Kolokotronis, hero of the Greek Revolution.
The view over the Argolic Gulf, the city of Náfplio and the surrounding country is breathtaking. There are 913 steps in the winding stair from the town to the fortress. However, to reach the top of the fortress there are over one thousand. Locals in the town say there are 999 steps to the top of the castle.
A short drive from Nauplion is Epidaurus, one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. The most important attraction of the site is the beatiful ancient Theatre. With perfect visual proportions and spectacular acoustic response of its space, The Epidaurus theatre is the best preserved among all the ancient theatres.
Mycenae or Μυκήνη is an archaeological site in Greece, a short drive from Nauplion.
In the second millennium BC, Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae, the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece. At its peak in 1350 BC, the citadel and lower town had a population of 30,000 and an area of 32 hectares. The Mycenaean was the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece, with its palatial states, urban organization, works of art and writing system.
I fell in love with this seaport town, with its quaint shops, restaurants, boutique hotels and cafes. We stayed in a small boutique hotel, with a partial view of the waterfront. Nafplio’s Syntagma Square (town square) is surrounded by beautiful buildings primarily in neoclassical style, with polished marble floors.
Ta Fanaria has delicious traditional Greek food, so tasty that we returned again. Aiolos Tavern was always busy so we weren’t able to try their menu. 3Sixty is a great spot for couples to enjoy a few cocktails, while Mavros Gatos is a hot spot for an evening coffee. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Ζαχαροπλαστειο Chocola has an assortment of handmade chocolates and pastries to fill your craving.
Nafplio also boasts a number of quaint shops and boutiques, including the charming family-owned pottery and ceramic shop, Genesis Ceramic Workshop. Worry beads have several uses in Greek culture, including guarding against bad luck, counting prayers, and as a game to pass the time. Visit the Komboloi Museum.
The narrow pedestrian streets make it easy to explore the town at your leisure. Unlike other cities where souvenir shops are dominant, Nafplio’s quaint streets are strewn with unique clothing, jewelry, handcraft, and gift shops.
Nauplion Promenade is full of shops and cafes. The town square is just a block off the promenade with historic buildings. Pick a spot and enjoy the sunset. Many restaurants along the waterfront offer fresh seafood, but I find the restaurants in the small streets more quaint. I particularly enjoyed a morning coffee by the water.
You’ll also the view of the castle of Bourtzi or Μπούρτζι, is located in the middle of the harbour of Nafplio. The Venetians completed its fortification in 1473 to protect the city from pirates and invaders from the sea. The Greeks regained it from the Turks in 1822, from where they assisted in the siege of Nafplio. Until 1865 it served as a fortress. It was then transformed into residence of the executioners of convicts from the castle of Palamidi. From 1930 to 1970, it served as a hotel. Since then, it is mainly a tourist attraction.