Nafpaktos: The Castle of DelightGreece,
One castle, two naval battles, three invaders. A sanctuary for outcasts, a prize for conquerors, a tiny harbour for mighty fleets. Nafpaktos has been known with twelve different names but gained immortal fame when she became the “godmother” for a distant battle. Its beauty vindicates all the people who fought passionately to keep it theirs.
1. The cross and the crescentThe battle of Lepanto arguably put Nafpaktos on the map, at the cost of a famous writer’s left arm.
2. The tower of the calfThis tower seems completely out of place or even fake. But it is one of the oldest buildings in town and has a guardian calf that will not tolerate any disrespectful thoughts regarding the tower and its owners.
3. The castle atop the hillThe most surprising aspect of the history of Nafpaktos is how this place has maintained its strategic importance throughout the centuries and yet managed to change its names more time than one cares to enumerate.
The great misnomer
The cross and the crescentNafpaktos is famous as the site of the battle of Lepanto, the last great battle involving war galleys. In 1571, in a desperate effort to assist the Venetians in their struggle to maintain their control of Cyprus against the invading Ottoman army, an alliance of Christian nations managed to send a fleet of 206 galleys (plus 6 larger galleasses) against the Ottoman navy that consisted of 208 galleys plus 120 smaller ships. It was a titanic clash, involving 70,000 Christian and 77,000 Ottoman soldiers and oarsmen. The battle was fought on October 7 and lasted a few hours. At its conclusion, the Ottoman fleet was completely destroyed. It was a pointless victory though, for within a year the Ottoman shipyards had replaced the losses, while Cyprus was not saved. And the battle was not even fought near Lepanto.
The soul of the calf
The tower of the calfThe Botsaris tower was said to be haunted by the soul of the calf that was sacrificed when the foundations were laid. The calf (as might be expected) claimed to be the rightful owner of the house and protected the people who lived there. When the calf was bored in the nighttime, it would leave its crypt and stand beneath the arch throughout the night. Most passersby had nothing to fear from this spectre but woe betide anyone who had evil thoughts or intentions towards the tower’s owners. Nevertheless, everyone should be careful and respectful towards the calf, for if you got scared and started screaming, you could lose your voice forever. When the sun rose, the calf returned to the crypt.
A.k.a. times infinity
The castle atop the hillThe many names of Nafpaktos. This could be another title for this story for Nafpaktos has changed its name more times that the most hardened criminal. The original Naupaktos is a composite word from the ancient Greek naus “ship” and pegneme “to fix”, thus it meant “shipyard”. The Romans called the town Naupactus, while the Franks and the Venetians in the late Medieval period called it Nepant or Nepanto and then Lepant or Lepanto. When the town fell to the Ottoman Turks its name was adapted to Inebahti, since this was as close as the Ottomans could come to the pronunciation of the Greek name Nepahtos. The town was also known as Enebekt, Eynebahti and Ainabahti (Castle of Delight).
Nea Odos has undertaken the study, planning, construction, operation, administration and maintenance of the “Ionian Road” project. A breathtaking project covering a total length of 380klm.
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