Squares of Nafplio
The old town of Nafplio is one of the best well structured old cities. Clear blocks, "dromoskales" and alleys that lead to the sea and intersect those that cross the city horizontally, and -of course- many squares. In Nafplio you will encounter over eight squares. Each one unique, each one wrote its own page in history.
When you first visit Nafplio, you won't have to ask where Syntagma Square is. It is the most popular square and the actual center of the old city. It was originally called Platanos Square, because of the large plane tree that exists there. Once you find yourself in the shadow of this plane tree, think about the important spot that you are, since here the generals were plotting their revolutionary plans.
On your right, you can see the Vouleftiko, where the first Greek Parliament was housed. In front of you, the Trianon, the Old Mosque (the oldest surviving example of Ottoman architecture in the city). You can also see the house of Theodoros Kolokotronis, "Panagia" church, the Archaeological Museum. Right where the building of the National Bank is now housed, was the house of Mme Calliope Papalexopoulou. From her balcony, the mayor's wife gave a fiery speech, encouraging the people of Nafplio to revolt. You will see the sculpture in her honor in the place!
In 1843, the square was named Louis Square, by king Othon, in honor of his father’s name. That same year, after the “movement of 3rd September” -when the Greek people asked for a constitution in Athens- this square (like in Athens) was renamed as Syntagma Square. It was reconstructed in its present form in 1980, by Mayor Nick Karapavlos.
Three Admirals' Square
The Three Admirals' Square ("Trion Navarchon" square), is dedicated to the memory of Admirals Codrington of England, Derigny of France and Hayden of Russia, who beat the Turkish-Egyptian fleet in Navarino naval battle, on October 8th 1827. It was built by the engineer Stamatis Voulgaris, when Kapodistrias was Governor.
In the middle of the currently paved square, stands the monument enclosing the bones of Dimitrios Ypsilantis. Just opposite, the statue of Otto, the first king of Greece, is placed. One of the most important buildings in Nafplio, the Government House or "Palataki", was once located around the site, where this statue of Otto is placed today. "Palataki" was built in 1829 by the Italian architect Pasquale Hippoliti, in order to house the offices of the newly formed then Greek government, as well as the residence of the Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias. In fact, it was built at the expense of the Governor himself and with the sponsorship of Greek expatriates (Kapodistrias self-financed many projects). The Government House was completely destroyed by fire in 1929 and was never rebuilt.
You will notice around you many neoclassical buildings, the central one being the building that houses the City Hall today, which was the first Greek High School, as well as the first pharmacy of the Italian philhellene Bonifacio Bonafin, who embalmed the dead body of Ioannis Kapodistrias.
Did you know that?
For many years, the carnival party took place here on Halloween Sunday, with live music and fire-works, as well as the burning of the Carnival King.
The first Greek High School and the first Greek Pharmacy are found here, for you to admire.
The location of the square is strategic. Right at the entrance of the old town, under Palamidi castle, a few meters from the Land Gate, the square welcomes the visitors and prepares them for the grandeur of the city they will visit. Here was initially the Venetian "Dolphin" bastion, which was demolished in 1926, when it was decided that all the walls and bastions of the lower city would be demolished.
On the square formed after the demolition, the statue of Ioannis Kapodistrias was placed in 1932, after the 17th resolution of the "National Assembly in Athens" of September 3rd 1843. The construction of the statue was undertaken by the sculptor Michael Tombros and the paved square was dedicated to the First Governor of Greece.
St. George's Square
It is named after the orthodox church of "Agios Georgios" (St. George), which is there situated. Located right at the entrance of the Old Town, just a few meters after the famous "Land Gate" at the intersection of Plapouta and Palamidi streets. This metropolitan temple is said to have been built in the early 16th century, during the First Venetian Occupation of Nafplio, and after the occupation of the city by the Turks in 1540, the church was converted into a mosque. In the square of St. George, we observe buildings and houses with simple forms of early classicism.
On the south side of the church, there is a very important building, dating back at the time of the first Venetian occupation, like the church. It has two floors and surrounds the temple in the shape of "Gamma" (Γ). Around 1712, it is said that it operated as a Venetian religious school, while during the 19th century the building was a printing house or orphanage. It is known that in 1824 the Ministry of Education was housed here and in 1830 the Greek School.
Did you know that?
Here, musical performances take place late June every year, within the framework of the Nafplio Music Festival.
St. Spyridon's Square
The square located right next to the Church of "Agios Spyridon", where on September 27th 1831, Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias was assassinated by George and Constantine Mavromichalis from Mani. The square is also named after the famous local writer and poet Aggelos Terzakis, whose statue (bust) is placed at the square's center. St. Spyridon's Square is one of the most beautiful spots in the Old Town, surrounded by neoclassical houses of the 18th and 19th century, with courtyards and beautiful balconies.
"Psaromachala", that was -tradition says- the fishermen's district, is one of the oldest and most particular districts of Nafplio, extending at the foot of northwestern Akronafplia, above the Staikopoulou Street.
Today, it is one of the most scenic spots of the old town of Nafplio. Going up the characteristic "dromoskales", we notice houses of different eras, but also some nicely renovated. From the highest road of Psaromachala, we can see up close parts of the walls of Akronafplia fortress.
Right in today's "Psaromachala" square, there was a very important hospital for the poor, the first hospital established in Greece, a legacy of the Florentine Duke of Athens Nerio Atsagioli. The hospital operated for many years, with some breaks, from 1394 until the end of the 1940s, when it was demolished. The only trace of this important hospital, which survives to this day, is the small chapel of the Holy Apostles, which was built by the Venetians and was originally located inside the hospital yard.
It is located in the port, in front of the Nafplio High School.
Did you know that?
The book fair is hosted here, every year in August.
Overlooking the Argolic Gulf and Bourtzi fortress, "Philhellinon" Square is one of the most famous squares in Nafplio, in a very central part of the city. At this spot, there was the Venetian bastion of St. Teresa, which was later renamed as bastion of Moschos and was demolished in 1866.
The monument to the Philhellenes, which dominates in the middle of the square, was erected in 1903, in memory of the French philhellenes, who fought and sacrificed for the liberation of Greece from the Turks during the Greek Revolution. The monument has the form of a votive column made of gray marble, in the well-known type of obelisk. It was designed in Paris, but was sculpted in Athens at the marble's workshop of John Chaldoupis. On the raised base of the obelisk, on one side, there is a relief representation in white marble, with the personifications of Greece and France, with the figures of Athena and the Republic respectively, while on the east side of the base, there is a votive inscription, commemorating the great French Philhellenes, General Mezon, General Faviere and Admiral Derigny, but also all the sailors and soldiers of France, who fought for the Greek Independence.
Northwest of the square, we see the bust of the heroine of the Greek Revolution Mando Mavrogenous, who lived in Nafplio from 1824 to 1831, while on the northeast side of the square, on King Othon's Street, there is an important two-storeyed neoclassical building of the 19th century, that belonged to the Iatrou family, known for its donations to the city. The city's Town Hall was housed here from 1972, until it moved to the Three Admirals' Square ("Trion Navarchon").
In the center of Nafplio, just before the entrance of the Old Town and very close to Kapodistrias Square, we meet the famous Kolokotroni Square, dedicated to the memory of the leader of the Greek revolution, General Theodore Kolokotronis. The Kolokotroni Park, also called the Botanical Garden of Nafplio by some, was formed during the expansion of the city up to the Railway Station and was enacted by a decree in 1901.
Among the magnificent plants and tall trees, centrally located is the monumental statue of the hero of the Greek Revolution Theodoros Kolokotronis on his horseback, which is one of the most important creations of modern Greek sculpture. Crafted by the sculptor Lazaro Soho in Paris, the Kolokotroni Statue was cast in 1894 at the Tiebo foundry in Paris (in two copies) and in 1895 was moved to Greece.
Did you know that?
The amount of money for the purchase of the statue was very high and a pan-Hellenic fundraiser had to take place for this cause. The pedestal, donated by the appeal court judge Mr. Nikolaos Kotsakis, was designed in Paris by the Tiero brothers and was built in 1900 in Athens, at the marble's workshop of John Chaldoupis. The unveiling of the statue took place in 1901. A similar statue (the other mentioned copy), is placed in Athens, in front of the Old Parliament building.