At the entrance of the port of Nafplio at about 450m from the mole, there is the trademark of the city, Bourtzi, built on the island of Saints Theodoroi.
A tower complex that occupies exclusively the shape of the isle on plans of the Italian architect Gambello, Bourtzi which in Turkish-Arabian means fortress island, was built in 1473 by the Venetians, who planning to face the pirate raids, exploited the geographical position of the isle and constructed a tower with flamethrowers. The fortifying works were conducted during the Second Venetian rule of the city by Morozinis (1686) but also later by the Turks, who surrounded it with the so-called porporela that is an underwater dam of stones that made it impossible for big ships to come close.
Bourtzi has been renamed a lot of times through the years. The Venetians named was Castello dello Soglio (Kasteli) and they also named the port Porto Cadena (chain port) as the entrance of the cove closed with a portable chain that was tied from Bourtzi to Acronafplia and pulled every time an enemy ship was coming close to the port, cutting it in the middle.
The warriors of 1821 used to call it “Thalassopirgos” as it played an important role during the Greek Revolution. In 1822 after two sieges it was conquered by the Greeks who were entrenched in the fortress shooting towards Palamidi and Acronafplia which were under the Turkish rule. A few years later, in 1826, the Greek government resorted to the fortress for protection during the civil war.
Bourtzi functioned as a fortress until 1865, when the executioners of the prisons of Palamidi settled in, after king Georgios’ I command. In the 1930s it was the center of the Tourist Organization and later it became a luxurious hotel until 1970. Today it is one of the greatest tourist attractions of the city as an archeological museum.
Visitors can gain access to the fortress by boats which are permanently tied to the mole of Nafplio and run on schedule. The enchanting pictures that the view of Nafplio offers the visitors with the castle of Palamidi on the left and the fortress of Acronafplia on the right are indelible memories. During the summertime there are occasional cultural and musical events that take place there under the moonlight, making the visitor’s mind roam into moments of absolute relaxation.