Chlemoutsi Castle, Killini.
Chlemoutsi Castle, Killini.
Sunday, 19th August, 2012.
We decided to have a rest day and visit Chlemoutsi Castle or Castel Tornesi as it is also known. It is the most famous Frankish castle in Greece after the gold “tournois” coins were minted there in medieval times. In 1204 crusaders sacked Constantinople and there was a breakup of the Byzantine Empire as a result of the occupation by the Franks and Venetians. The castle was erected between 1219 and 1223 to defend the thriving Glarentza port as Killini was known and the principality capital of Andreville. Chlemoutsi stands on the summit of a hill on the western most headland of the Peloponnese.
We enquired about a bus to the castle but the three people we asked all said they don’t seem to have buses in this area. We were not giving up so we found a taxi for the 8 km journey to the castle which we discover is all up hill. Thank goodness we had not attempted this on our bicycles.
The castle is very impressive from the road and although the roads are narrow on the last part of the journey it was worth going to. It was built by Prince Geoffrey I de Villehardouin and it was believed to be one of the strongest fortresses of its time. Exceptionally thick walls and a massive gate were built and much of the rampart catwalk can still be followed today. The castle continued to function until the Greek National Uprising in 1821, passing through the hands of the Turks, (1460-1687 and 1715-1821) and the Venetians (1687-1715). The Greeks and Venetians carried out no work on the castle, while the Turks only did minor projects to reinforce it. Part of the castle suffered major devastation during the bombardment by Ibrahim in 1825. There were no later modifications to the original fortress and Chlemoutsi Castle still retains its Frankish character. The EC have given 400,000 euro’s towards it restoration and many parts have been repaired like the museum which houses a mixture of finds such as necklaces, coins, horse bits made of a brass material and pots. Steps lead to a roof for views over the Ionian islands and the coastal areas. The fan shaped courtyard is being restored and it is being used for summer concerts. It is such a massive task it may take another twenty years to have it back to its formal glory.
After we left the castle we looked for the one and only taxi which was parked at the rank. Not there so we looked for a cafe for cold coffee and to wait the arrival of the taxi. After half an hour we gave up and bought a large bottle of water and walked down. There are fields and fields of olive groves with a few beautiful houses and apartments overlooking the water towards Zakynthos with wonderful views. We were a little concerned as everyone has a very high metal fence completely surrounding their property, large gate with spots lights and even barbed wire on top together with the sign of a large guard dog. The only dog we saw was a little Highland cross type who didn’t quite frighten us.
Killini town has a funny mixture of shops with many shut down and taverna’s on each corner. Unfortunately, the people who come and go on the ferries don’t stop here. The local people appear every evening with their hand lines fishing for anything. We watched last night and didn’t see one fish caught although they were still fishing at 11 p..m. There is not the worth here which we have seen on our travels this year.