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The Castle of Myrina

The castle or burg (Kastro) of Myrina is one of the best-preserved castles in the Aegean. It covers an area of 14,4 hectares on the peninsula west of the town of Myrina. Built on a steep, rocky promontory, its only landward communication is to the east. On either side of the narrow isthmus is a harbour: the north one, the Romeikos Gialos, and the south, the Tourkikos Gialos, flanked respectively by the Greek and the Turkish neighborhood.

In the Byzantine Era (during the reign of Andronikos I Komnenos), a small but strong castle, scant remnants of which survive, was built on top of pre-existing fortifications on the highest point of the hill. During the period of Frankish rule, repairs were carried out by the Venetian Filocalo Paolo Navigaiοso (1207-1214). Subsequently, important additions and extensions were made by the Genoese Francesco I Gattilusi (1373-1384). The present form of the castle is the result of this intervention as well as of large-scale repairs and rearrangements made by the Ottoman Turks in the course of their centuries-long occupation of Limnos (1479-1912). The castle comprises an outer and an inner enceinte or bailey, with walls 3,080 m in overall length. The outer enceinte combined with the rugged terrain creates a high, impregnable wall. The fortification is reinforced at intervals by towers, battlements and a moat at the foot of the hill. Three entrances gave access to the castle: the main gateway (south), the secondary or Mavrohani gateway (north) and a gateway of small dimensions (west). A crosswall orientated E-W divides the castle into two parts, the southern (higher) and the northern (lower). Inside the south part is a central stone paved pathway, on either side of which stand remains of numerous buildings, among them the commandery, the barracks for the Ottoman garrison, the gunpowder store, storage spaces, cistern complexes, a mosque, and so on.


 

The Castle of Moudros

The Castle of Moudros is located between the villages of Moudros and Roussopouli. Follow the provincial road Moudros - Kaminia, and 1,000 meters after leaving Moudros turn right into a dirt road. After 600 more meters leave your vehicle in the location Menalpi and take the path that ascends on the hill of Paliokastro. On its flat top you will see the ruins of the Castle, which is one of the strongest of Limnos along with those of Myrina and Kotsinas.

Walls and fortifications from the first period of the Venetian era in the 13th century, incurred successive repairs but also heavily damages by the attacks of the conquerors on the island, until, in 1680, the British traveler Bernard Randolph finds the castle of Moudros and describes it in his notes as "deserted and ruined". Having visual contact with the bay of Bournias, the beach of Keros and the cape Petsias, and unobstructed views to Imbros and Samothrace, the observers were able to communicate with visual signals, mirrors or fire with other watchtowers in Kontias, Kotsinas and the neighboring villages, in order to coordinate the defense and prevent the fast break of the enemy.


 

The Castle of Kotsinas

Kotsinas was first mentioned in 1136 thanks to its port and the security provided at the end of the bay. At the same time, the neighboring Hephaestia begins to decline and the harbor is destroyed by silting. Kotsinas increasingly populated and the port brings trade to the north coast of Limnos.

The Venetians built a castle on the coast. As there are no hills, an artificial hill with a height of 20 meters is created and above fortifications were made at 6 meters height. The castle extends over four acres. The northern foundations are in the water and around it there is a trench which communicates with the sea.

A church was built above an underground water spring. If we descent the stairs, we reach almost the sea level. It seems that during the construction of the artificial hill an underground passage was made, in order to have water during a siege of the castle. Today there are 64 stairs. The landscaping of the surrounding area completed in 1918. The present church was built in 1954 with grants of expatriates from America and Australia. From the old church of the Byzantine era survives an architrave. Arriving in the courtyard of the church we see a bronze statue. A young woman with sword in hand. It is the statue of the legendary Maroula.

The legend was born the 15th century, when Kotsinas was violently attacked by the Turks. In 1478 Suleiman Pasha besieges the castle and Maroula, when watching her father George Makris fall dead, grabs his sword, and rushes giving courage to the defenders. The castle survives. Much later, the legend spread to Western Europe with a poem wrote by a Jesuit monk in 1669. The courage of Jeanne d'Arc of Limnos is an inspiration to many Greek writers.

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