Nafpaktos (Lepanto)

One more of my travel blogs... I will travel you this time in a beautiful and historical place of Greece but I would also try to show you the light and the colors of my country. It is not only Nafpaktos, the small town I will present you but also the greek sun and the sea as I have capture them at my photos.

Enjoy Nafpaktos... enjoy the Greek colors!

Nafpaktos (Latin: Naupactus or Naupactos ; Turkish: Inebaht? ; Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Lepanto ; modern Greek, Ναύπακτος, rarely Epakto ), is a town in the prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania ,situated on a bay on the north side of the straits of Lepanto. The harbour, once the best on the northern coast of the Corinthian Gulf , is now almost entirely choked up, and is accessible only by small boats. Naupactus is the capital of the province of Nafpaktia.

The origin of Naupactos comes from the two Greek words: (ναύς) naus ship, boat and (πήγνυμι) pegnumi , pegnymi builder, fixer. It is located 15 km NE from Patra and about 215 km NW of Athens with the new Rio-Antirio bridge.
In Greek legend it appears as the place where the Heraclidae built a fleet to invade the Peloponnesus.

The town has schools, lyceums, gymnasiums, churches, banks, a post office, a beach, and a square ( plateia ) located next to the Gulf of Corinth. Residential houses are lined up with the highway.

Today the population is about 18,000 people. Residential homes align with the Gulf of Corinth over a length of about 3 km and a width of about 1km. The port divides the beach front in two parts. The Western part is called Psani, while the Eastern part Gribovo. Both beach fronts provide the backdrop for a nice promenade while a wide range of restaurants and cafes can also be found. Naupactus sits on a shoulder of a mountain range on the north while farmlands dominate the western part. The climate is one of the best in Greece.

The municipality is mainly made up of mountains while much of the fertile land is within the Gulf of Corinth.

Nafpaktos is a small historical and picturesque town with good clean beaches.
The old town situated in the Walls has kept its own style, its old face. Your look meets everywhere the beauty, the harmony, the serenity. You can easily discover small or big traditional particularities even among the cement and the antennas of modern buildings.
The area of Nafpaktos has many worthwhile beaches.
Some of these are Psani and Grimbovo, where the plane trees are growing right up to where the sea begins, Monastiraki, which is at a distance of 12 km. east of Nafpaktos, and Platinitis, at a distance of 7 km. southwest of Nafpaktos.
Its climate is considered one of the best of the country. It is mild with a soft winter and a cool summer. It's got increased rainfalls, short periods of summer aridity and a great sunlight. The middle temperature of the place is 18 degrees.
The outdoor small cafe are beautiful and busy all around the year. A nice place to enjoy a Greek coffee.
In Nafpaktos what mostly attracts the eye of the visitor is the well preserved Venetian castle at the top of the hill, which is one of the most beautiful in Greece. The castle proudly looks down upon the city and the bay of Patras.
The picturesque, mainly Venetian castle, from which ramparts descend to enclose the little harbor, reminds us of its medieval past when it was known in the West as Lepanto. The square, shaded by jacaranda trees, looks across the Gulf to Mt. Panakhaikon in Peloponnesus.

In historical times it belonged to the Ozolian Locrians; but about 455 BC, in spite of a partial resettlement with Locrians of Opus, it fell to the Athenians, who peopled it with Messenian refugees and made it their chief naval station in western Greece during the Peloponnesian war. Two major battles were fought at this location. In 404 it was restored to the Locrians, who subsequently lost it to the Achaeans, but recovered it through Epaminondas.

Philip II of Macedon gave Naupactus to the Aetolians, who held it till 191 BC, when after an obstinate siege it was surrendered to the Romans. It was still flourishing about 170, but in Justinian I 's reign was destroyed by an earthquake. It was again destroyed by earthquakes in 553 and in the 8th century and so on. In the Middle Ages it fell into the hands of the Venetians, who fortified it so strongly that in 1477 it successfully resisted a four month's siege by a Turkish army thirty thousand strong; in 1499, however, it was taken by Beyazid II. The mouth of the Gulf of Lepanto was the scene of the great sea fight in which the naval power of the Ottoman Empire was nearly completely destroyed by the united papal, Spanish, Habsburg and Venetian forces ( Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571).
Lepanto (Nafpaktos) is located a few miles to the east of the Little Dardanelles the narrows which close the Gulf of Corinth. It was fortified by the Venetians and the Turks maintained the walls and the castle. The fortifications were made of a castle on top of a little hill from which two walls went down to the sea. The sea-line was protected by maritime walls and three other walls were built at various levels on the hill between the maritime walls and the castle (see sketch here below)





The entrance to the harbor was protected by two towers and a large number of cannons. In 1570 the Turks attacked Cyprus and in August 1571 they conquered Famagusta, the last Venetian stronghold in the island. In the meantime at the request of Pope Pius V a large Christian fleet gathered in Messina in Sicily. Spain, Venice and the other Italian states were part of the alliance. The command was given to Don John of Austria, aged 26, natural son of the Emperor Charles V. Venice moved to Messina the galleys located in Corfu and Candia.

The commander of the Turkish fleet took advantage of this decision and from Negroponte (Euboea) moved around the Peloponnese and entered the Adriatic Sea where he attacked several towns belonging to Venice. He then moved to Lepanto to obtain new supplies. The Christian fleet moved from Messina towards Greece and on October 7, 1571 the two fleets met near Patrasso.

It was in the interest of the Turks to avoid the battle or at least to fight in the vicinity of Lepanto to make use of the artillery of the fortress, but the Turkish commander underestimated the strength of the Christian fleet and thought that a victory would have led to the conquest of Candia and Corfu. What followed was the largest sea battle between oar navies after the Roman time. The ships were so many and in a limited space that the fight was decided by the Spanish swordsmen.

Both Venice and Spain have put inscriptions on the maritime walls of Lepanto to celebrate the battle. There is also a statue of Miguel de Cervantes, who fought and was seriously wounded in the battle.

Miguel de Cervantes was a Spanish novelist, poet and playwright . Cervantes is one of the most important and celebrated figures in literature and the leading figure associated with the cultural florescence of sixteenth century Spain (the Siglo de Oro). His novel, Don Quixote , is considered a founding classic of Western literature and regularly figures among the best novels ever written; it has been translated into more than sixty languages, while editions continue regularly to be printed, and critical discussion of the work has unabatedly persisted since the 18th century.

The victory of Lepanto was celebrated in all western Europe and in particular by Pope Pius V and his successor Pope Gregorius XIII who wanted the event to be painted on a wall of the Vatican Palace. The red dot shows the castle of Lepanto. The 1683 failed attempt by the Turks to conquer Vienna was regarded as a second Lepanto. It was again restored in 1699, by the treaty of Karlowitz to the Ottomans; in the war of independence it finally became Greek once more (March 1829).

The tiny harbor has maintained (it is a miracle!) its ancient looks and even some symbols of the Turkish rule have been preserved.

The inner walls had only one point of passage located on the side of a tower. The walls are in general well kept but many of the buildings on the upper part of the hill have been abandoned and lie in ruins. Some of them show their Turkish origin.

The castle is surrounded by a beautiful pine wood. Little is little left of the barracks and of the other buildings which once were in the castle.

The views from the castle reward the effort made to get there. In particular the view over the harbor is very evocative of the past.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Nafpaktos and you have been familiar with its great history. I believe you enjoyed also the nice blue colors of the sea and the Greek sky I tried to pass you with my photos. Nafpaktos is for sure a place that it is worth to visit it. I went there for first time this winter but I was ravished by its beauty and I went there and for second time and I plan to visit it many times at the future.

Nafpaktos is a magical place. A town that travels you at the past and fills your inner self with bright blue colors.


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