Nafplio or ”Anapli’’, capital of the prefecture of Argolis, is one of the most famous and beautiful cities in Greece, with the main port of the eastern Peloponnese, while aside from administrative, it is also an important touristic center, with constant movement throughout the year. It is one of the most picturesque cities in the country, and was also the capital of the Hellenic Government during the period 1827 – 1834. Contemporary and classic, cosmopolitan and romantic at the same time, it is a destination for all seasons. Built on the feet of the two fortresses, Palamidi and Acronafplia, it numbers today roughly 17.000 citizens. With a constantly increasing touristic growth and infrastructure that improves continuously, hundreds of thousands are its visitors every year.
According to Greek mythology, at the location of the modern city, Nafplios, son of god Poseidon and Amymon, founded Nafplia, which was fortified with cyclopean walls. Archaeological findings prove the existence of the city, already from the Mycenaean times, during which the city was a powerful naval state, with walls on the rock of Akronafplia that later on fell to decay and was abandoned. The city of Nafplio was independent, but circa 600 BC, it fell under the rule of Argos and was used as its port.
During the Byzantine times and since the 11th century, the importance of Nafplio as a commercial center was increasingly elevating. An eminent figure for the history of the city, was that of Leontas Sgouros, a local lord of Nafplio circa 1200, who in his effort to expand his authority, reached all the way to Larisa in 1204. His advance was cut off by the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade, who in the end took over all of the areas that he had conquered, among with Nafplio, circa 1210-1212.
In 1540, after a three year long siege, Nafplio was handed over to the Turks. During the period of the First Turkish Occupation of the city that lasted from 1540 to 1686 Nafplio seemed to enjoy a number of privileges and rights, especially up until the mid-17th century.
In 1686, Venetians under their skilled chief general Francesco Morozini, reclaimed the city, which they were meant to hold for a short time, until 1715. Nafplio became of utmost importance during this period, as the capital of the Kingdom of Moreas. The most important work of the second Venetian Occupation was undoubtedly the fortification of Palamidi.
In 1715 followed the harshest second Turkish occupation of Nafplio, when the city started to decay, especially after the transfer of the seat of the pasha to Tripoli. The night of 29th to 30th of November 1822, after many months of siege, Palamidi fell to the hands of Greek by surprise attack, under the leadership of Staikos Staikopoulos. Ever since, the city begun to develop in rapid pace, while it was flooded by many refugees from the areas that were still under Turkish yolk.
The city reached its peak when it became the capital of the Greek state, from 1827 to 1834. On January 8th, 1828, the first governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, landed in Nafplio. He was murdered on September 27th 1831, outside of St. Spyridonas church and on January 25th 1833, citizens of Nafplio welcomed the first king of Greece, Othonas, who remained in the city for a very short period, until mid-1834, when the capital of the Greek state was transferred to Athens.
Ever since, Nafplio became a provincial city, that in the recent years has evolved into a beloved destination, both for Greek and foreign travelers. The point of reference for the city, Bourtzi, a small fort built on the little island of St. Theodors in the harbor, continues to keep the legends alive. In the old city of Nafplio, the two Venetian castles stand out with their preserved architectural physiognomy, Akronafplia and Palamidi, with its 999 steps according to tradition.
From Acronafplia, the view over the city is impressive, while the pedestrian road of Arvanitia, that surrounds the rock of Acronafplia, offers unique moments of relaxation. The core of the old city expands behind Bouboulina’s and Miaouli’s seasides, that are packed with cafe, bars and taverns, while the main pedestrian Vasileos Konstantinou Street, will be the point of reference for each and every one of your tours around the old city, as it crosses it through and through and ends up on the stone-laden Syntagma square. Here you can find the Archaeological Museum, the Vouleftikon that housed the first parliament of the free Greek state and the Old Mosque.
Traditional taverns take up the entirety along Staikopoulos Street, at the end of which you can find the Museum of Kompologi (rosary beads). The alleys around this street are filled with Turkish fountains and hamam, mementos of the Turkish occupation, as well as historic churches. One of the most beautiful buildings of the city is the Armansperg mansion (residence of Greece’s Viceroy, Joseph Ludwig Graf von Armansperg), while an official annex of the National Art Gallery is operating as well in the city.