Venetian Castle of Assos

About the Experience

T he Venetian Castle of Assos in Kefalonia is a designated European Heritage Site and one of Kefalonia's two remaining fortresses. The Venetians constructed it in the 16th century on top of four bastions and later added two more to protect the island from frequent invasions by pirates and Ottomans. Due to its strategic location, it became the capital of Northern Kefalonia. However, when the Venetians captured Lefkada from the Ottomans, it lost its usefulness as a defensive structure, and Argostoli became the new capital. After 1920, it was used as a prison. It was initially a rural prison for small-scale offenders and later housed serious offenders with long sentences. After World War II, it was used to imprison political prisoners. Thankfully, the outside walls of the castle were spared from the devastating fate of most of the buildings in Kefalonia due to the tragic earthquake of 1953. However, the prison was eventually closed down, and its residents abandoned it. The castle's outside walls span 2,000 meters and are rectangular, a typical example of Venetian and military architecture. It has four corners with bastions named Saint Markos, Saint John of the Count, Respuna, and Mora. There is a fifth one, between Respuna and Mora, called Santa Maria, and a sixth one, north of Mora, called Kabusa. The Lion of Saint Mark, which lies at the fortress's entrance, is its main attraction. Additionally, the Orthodox church of Prophet Elias was built in 1800 on top of the remains of another church. Furthermore, six or seven Venetian cannons can be seen to the north and west of the walls.

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