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AEGEAN ISLANDS

The castle of Astypalaia

It was founded by Giovanni Querini, a Venetian official of the Duchy of Naxos, in 1413. At that time the island had been desolated due to the consecutive pirate raids. The castle was built using local ferrous rocks at the position were the ancient acropolis of the island once stood reviving the village and ensuring its survival against potential invaders. The architecture of the castle makes it very impressive even today. It only has one entrance on its southwest side which is just a low vaulted passageway. The surrounding wall of the castle leaned on reinforced house walls at several points. Those were called "xokastra" and formed a protective ring like a second line of defense around it. Some still exist today and have started being renovated. Most of the houses inside the castle have collapsed due to an earthquake that struck the island in 1956. A tower called "Saray" still stands tall at the southern end of the castle and two churches with whitewashed walls continue to stand out amidst the gray stone walls. The first one, near the entrance, called Panagia Castriani, was built in 1853 and dedicated to the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Building material from the homes of the Querini family was used for its construction. Further in, there is the church of Agios Georgios that was built in 1790. The open space in front of it used to be the "platsa", namely the central square where the gatherings of the town took place.

 

 

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