Bourtzi: The castle of the throne
"Castello dello Soglio" was the first name of the Venetian castle, which along with Palamidi, is considered one of the landmarks of Nafplio. Nevertheless, the name that finally prevailed is Bourtzi, which in Turkish means "Island - Fortress". With the Venetian "castle of the throne" there is always a dilemma for you: Is it better to gaze it from a distance -like a postcard that never fades- or to walk inside this miniature of a castle and get strong scents of history?
An elegant Italian castle
What is certain is, that just looking at it is not enough; just like everybody else, you will probably want to know its history. Bourtzi was built on the islet of St. Theodoroi in 1473, by the Italian engineer Gambelo and that is why its first name is Italian. Moreover, if you have heard people refer to Nafplio as "the chain harbor" (Porto Cadena), this is because there was, indeed, a mobile chain which connected Acronafplia with Bourtzi and whose purpose was to protect the harbor and the city from invaders from the sea and pirates.
From prison to hotel!
As years passed by, the Venetian castle was used in a variety of ways. Being, initially, the first prison of Kolokotronis (best-known hero of the Greek revolution against the Turks) and the residence of the executioners of Palamidi, it later offered housing to the Greek government twice. During the '30s it operated as a center of the Greek national Tourist Organisation and from 1960 to 1970 as a luxury hotel and restaurant.
The New Phase of the Castle
After 5 or more years of extensive repairs and restoration, on August 5th 2023, the Bourtzi fortress of Nafplio opens to the public as an accessible cultural and recreational monument. The entrance was free until August 17th 2023 and starting from the next day, August 18th, the monument operates with an admission ticket of 5,00€. Moreover, provisions are made for accessibility by people with disabilities, with the construction of an elevator, that allows access to the main level of the Fortress.
In the bastions, a small exhibition space and a souvenir shop are created, and the previous use of a small restaurant and refreshment stand is preserved. These spaces will be open to the public on the foreseeable future, while in the current initial phase of its operation, visitors are able to explore the exterior areas of the monument. Inside the southern tower, its configuration as a hotel room is preserved, and its furnishings and movable equipment are restored, showcasing the fortress's earlier use.
How to get there
Well, even if you strongly desire (staying at Bourtzi with the view of Nafplio, is not a bad idea, is it?), accommodation is not available there. Still, you may embark in one of the little boats that drop anchor at the dock and reach Bourtzi in 10 minutes by paying a fare of 5,00 euros (plus the entrance ticket to the monument, an extra 5,00€).
The public can visit the Bourtzi of Nafplio daily, Monday to Sunday. Operating hours during wintertime (from November 1st) from 9:15 to 16:00 and 9:00 to 20:00 during the summer season (T. +30 27520 27575).
Did you know that?
In the past, several musical and cultural events were held at the Venetian castle during the summer.
The Inauguration at Bourtzi took place on Friday, October 27th 2023. Then, the exhibition hall and a souvenir shop started operating in the bastions and the restaurant and cafeteria will re-open probably next summer.