Above the beautiful, traditional settlement of Karitena, at an altitude of approximately 600 m., the castle of Karitena stands majestically, overlooking the magical valley of the river Alfeios. The castle was built during te Frankish rule, in the 13th century, by the French sovereign Gottfried de Brulier, who used it for some time as his base.
The castle of Karytaina is also connected with the great protagonist of the Greek Revolution, Theodore Kolokotronis, who used it as a home and also as a base; its strategic spot atop the hill offered a very broad view of the area. In 1826 he also took up the necessary works to repair the damages the castle had suffered.
The castle of Karitena is one of the most representative samples of 13th century French architecture. Access to it is relatively easy, up to a point; from there, though, the signs of abandonement become evident.
Built onto a large rock, on a hill with an altitude of 582 metres, stands the Castle of Karitena, overlooking the village of the same name, spread out at its feet. The stone-built, triangular castle dates to the 13th century, and according to the Chronicle of Morea, was built by French lord, Geoffrey de Vrillier.
The Castle of Karitena was one of the most noteworthy castles of the Frankish Occupation period, as well as the Turkish Occupation period. Its position was ideal because, in combination with its altitude, it was a central for communication between Arcadia, Messinia and the valley of the River Alpheios, which the locals used to call the Toledo of Greece owing to its exceptional beauty. The strategic location of the castle drew the interest of conquerors, as was the case with most castles of the era. Among those coveting it were the Franks and the Venetians, who had a long presence in Peloponnesus. It played its most important role, however, during the Revolution of 1821, when it served as a refuge and base for many great chieftains, among them, Theodoros Kolokotronis. The “Old Man of Morea”, who was born in Libovisi of Karytaina, settled in the castle, reinforced it, built the Church of Panagia, and used the castle as his base against Ibrahim.
The castle today offers enchanting views across the entire valley of Megalopoli and the gorge of the River Lousios. Its interior is now in ruins, but the exterior walls are preserved in relatively good condition. After the first steep steps to reach it, to the left there stands a column, inside an enclosure, dedicated to a lieutenant who fell in the war, at the castle. Further down, there is the bust of Kolokotronis, while where the steps end, a stone path begins. The picture of abandonment in the interior of the castle has one positive aspect: the silence. If you listen carefully you can hear the memories of the past rising through every stone, every nook and every corner.