If you know a bit of Greek history, you probably know that the seaside town of Nafplio was for a brief period the first capital of the Hellenic Republic following the Greek Revolution of 1821, up until 1934. Located in the northeast Peloponnese, Nafplio played a major role during the Middle Ages, and the era’s many romantic influences fill the town to this day. Various conquerors over time included royal houses, nobility, the Venetians, and the Ottomans.
When the rainy season of autumn hits Greece, a visit to Nafplio can be relaxing if you don’t mind carrying an umbrella with you just in case it pours. With wet stone-paved streets and walkways surrounded by large palm trees, well-preserved neoclassical structures, and quite a bit of a Venetian flair, Old Town Nafplio is reminiscent of Italy’s Venice, making it one of the most beautiful towns in all of Greece.
Aside from food, drinks, entertainment and local shopping, Nafplio offers a number of historical gems waiting to be discovered. Syntagmatos Square is home to historically significant monuments and buildings. Nearby are also the first Greek Parliament, the Nafplio Archeological Museum, the War Museum, the Municipal Gallery, old Turkish Mosques, Trion Navarhon Square, the Kompoloi Museum, the Peloponnesian Folk Art Museum, and more.
And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, why not climb all 999 (plus) stone steps to the Palamidi Castle? Situated some 215 meters above sea level, the hike to this large fortress will have you stopping (aside from having to catch a breath) to take photos of the splendid panoramic view of Nafplio town, Bourtzi Castle in the distance, and the seemingly endless blue sea. Once you reach the top (there is a 4 euro entrance fee) you will be free to explore the castle for yourself. Inside, you will also find the cell in which Greek War Hero Theodoros Kolokotronis himself was held imprisoned. Crawling through the small entrance to get there, don’t be alarmed if you get goose bumps feeling his eerie presence by your side!
Other historical sites to visit while in Nafplio include the churches of Agios Georgios, and Agios Spyridonas, where Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias was assassinated. Situated on a small islet, the Venetian Bourtzi fortress is accessible by boat during the summertime, but is just as lovely to see in the distance from the waterfront walkway.
Known in ancient times as Nafplia, in the 19th and 20th centuries as Nafplion, and today as Nafplio, the town is just about 94 kilometers from Athens, making it a great weekend or day-trip destination. If you’re visiting, be sure to explore at least one museum and trek up to the Palamidi Castle for a memorable view!