The Castle of Naxos. Travel to the Duchy of the Archipelago (book)
Naxos becomes the seat of the crusaders
Wondering how Greece was under the domination of the crusaders? It seems to be something lost in the oblivion of the past and we will never get any idea of how it was?
Perhaps you haven’t been in the right place.
In Naxos, the less known part of Greek history exists and is alive like nowhere else.
During our hiking tour in Naxos, always under the guidance of Kostas, we found ourselves in the Castle of Chora (the capital).
It’s one of the best-preserved castles of the Aegean. And one of the few inhabited until today. This further increases its value. Which, anyway, is particularly great.
Because this small piece of Naxos encapsulates a disproportionately important history.
In 1207, three years after the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade conquered the Byzantine Empire, Marco Sanudo, a Venetian nobleman, the nephew of the doge Enrico Dandolo, occupied most of the islands of the Cyclades. He founded the Duchy of the Archipelago and settled in Naxos.
A castle that stands out
Most medieval settlements of the Aegean have a makeshift fortification. Namely, the inhabitants built their houses close to each other, leaving the exterior walls blind. So they formed a wall that protected them from the greatest scourge of the Aegean for centuries: the pirates.
But Naxos was not a random settlement. It was the seat of the Duke. Here lived the leader of the Cyclades and the Venetian noblemen who accompanied him to the conquest of the islands.
Therefore, here security requirements were greater.
So they built a regular wall, with five towers at the corners. Today, only one is preserved, the tower of Glezos.
The tower of Glezos, the only one of the five towers of the Castle still preserved
Inside, in the centre, they built the two centres of power, as in all medieval cities of Western Europe: the centre of political power, namely, the palace of the Duke. And the centre of religious authority, namely, the catholic cathedral.
Should enemies manage to get inside the walls, there was also the last refuge: the defensive tower. There the inhabitants would give the battle to the end.
Today it’s in ruins, but it’s still impressive.
The defensive tower. Last resort if the enemies came through the walls
About the palace of Sanudo scholars disagree. Others say it’s the half-ruined defensive tower. Others that it was a separate building, the one now housing the Catholic Archdiocese.
The Catholic Archdiocese. They say it was once the palace of Marco Sanudo
The rest of the article, in this book
About the author
Hello! I am Denis, an architect based in Athens, Greece. I teach history of art and architecture in higher education. That’s one passion of mine. The other one is hiking, in and out of town. If you follow me, I’ll share my discoveries with you.
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