Bourtzi: The castle of the throne
"Castello dello Soglio" was the first name of the Venetian castle, which along with Palamidi, is considered one of the landmarks of Nafplio. Nevertheless, the name that finally prevailed is Bourtzi, which in Turkish means "Island - Fortress". With the Venetian "castle of the throne" there is always a dilemma for you: Is it better to gaze it from a distance -like a postcard that never fades- or to walk inside this miniature of a castle and get strong scents of history?
An elegant Italian castle
What is certain is, that just looking at it is not enough; just like everybody else, you will probably want to know its history. Bourtzi was built on the islet of St. Theodoroi in 1473, by the Italian engineer Gambelo and that is why its first name is Italian. Moreover, if you have heard people refer to Nafplio as "the chain harbor" (Porto Cadena), this is because there was, indeed, a mobile chain which connected Acronafplia with Bourtzi and whose purpose was to protect the harbor and the city from invaders from the sea and pirates.
From prison to hotel!
As years passed by, the Venetian castle was used in a variety of ways. Being, initially, the first prison of Kolokotronis (best-known hero of the Greek revolution against the Turks) and the residence of the executioners of Palamidi, it later offered housing to the Greek government twice. During the '30s it operated as a center of the Greek national Tourist Organisation and from 1960 to 1970 as a luxury hotel and restaurant.
How to get there
Well, even if you strongly desire (staying at Bourtzi with the view of Nafplio, is not a bad idea, is it?), accommodation is not available there. Still, you may embark in one of the little boats that drop anchor at the dock and reach Bourtzi in 10 minutes by paying a fare of 4,50 euros.
Did you know that?
Several musical and cultural events are held at the Venetian castle during the summer. Their quality is not going to let you down! Soon, probably an exhibition hall and a souvenir shop will be operating in the bastions and the restaurant and cafeteria will re-open.
Currently Bourtzi is partly accessible, due to restoration works.