Acrocorinth

Acrocorinth is a castle nestled on the steep rock of Acrocorinth and rising above the southwest of Ancient Corinth.

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It was the fortified acropolis for ancient and medieval Corinth. Fortification was ensured through a system of three enclosures, separated by walls, which were in turn reinforced by towers and bastions. Three imposing pillars lead to its interior, where one can see ruins from buildings of all eras. Parts of the classical period wall are also visible, as well as constructions and additions of new fortifications from the Byzantine period, extended fortification works of the Frankish and Venetian rule, as well as interventions which took place mainly in the interior and during the Ottoman rule.

The first fortification on the Acrocorinth dates at the late 7th-early 6th c. B.C., at the time of the Kypselid tyrants.

Some extensive classic masonry dates to the 4th c. B.C. From 338 B.C., Acrocorinth passed into the hands of the Macedonians, who were later chased out by Aratos and thus the city became a member of the Achaean League.

After the destruction wrought by L. Mommius (146 B.C.), the wall was reconstructed from the same ancient material by Julius Caesar (44 B.C.). The first Christian phase incorporated in the classical wall belonged to the time of Justinian (6th c.). The early and middle Byzantine periods saw the reconstruction and addition of new fortifications (7th – 12th c.).

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In 1210, the castle was seized by the Francs (Othon de la Roche & Geof. Villehardouin). The lord of Nauplion Leo Sgouros committed suicide, when he jumped off the walls on his horse. During the middle of the 13th c. the walls were extensively repaired. In the early 14th c. the castle was ceded to prince John Gravina and then to N. Acciajuoli, who repaired the old fortifications and added new ones. In 1395, Theodoros Palaiologos became lord of the castle, who sold it for financial reasons to the knights Hospitallers of Rhodes, who held it until 1404, when Palaiologos won it back. In 1458, sultan Mehmed 2nd overcame the resistance of the Byzantine commander Matthew Asan, conquered Acrocorinth and built four mosques in its interior.

In 1687, the Venetians took over the Castle and executed fortification works which were completed in 1711. In 1715, Acrocorinth capitulated after a siege by the Turks, while in 1823, Corinth was freed and Abdulah-bey surrendered the castle to the Greek forces.

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The castle of Acrocorinth is a typical example of fortification architecture, bearing construction details and decorative elements from all periods of its history. Its walls follow the natural grain of the rock, they are built along three defensive lines and are reinforced by towers, bastions, crenellations filled with embrasures and cannon openings. Gate A had a ditch in front of it, with a wooden mobile bridge. A paved street would lead to its three successive gates. Gate A is arched, crowned with a blind arch, which has preserved a Byzantine marble slab; the second gate is an impressive tower-like, two-storied construction. The interior of the stone staircase leads to underground vaulted halls. The third gate is decorated with a blind, shoe-shaped arch and it is flanked by two strong towers.

The castle’s interior has preserved the remains of temples (Ag. Dimitrios, a three-aisled Venetian basilica, mosques with minaret), fountains, an underground Byzantine cistern with pillars and brick arches, the source of Ano Peirini with two underground areas covered in vaults, a temple of Aphrodite dating to the 5th-4th c.), as well as more recent and successive constructions, etc.

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The castle’s southwest side is occupied by the two-storied Frankish watchtower, with its tiered base and a window-embrasure. The lower floor was occupied by a cistern.
At the north foot of the hill of Acrocorinth lie the ruins of the Agora of the ancient city of Corinth, with its monumental buildings (sanctuaries, fountains, odeon, theater), stores, the paving on Lechaio Street, the imposing archaic temple of Apollo and the Museum. In antiquity, Acrocorinth was connected to the port of Lechaion and to the Long Walls.