11 Most Beautiful Castles in Greece

Updated On October 5, 2023
Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights

Greek castles have been a setting in many movies, shows, and books over the years – and they make for the subject of some really great photos.

Even with their popularity, though, most people don’t know the history behind the beauty – or what they were used for in the first place.

This guide provides insight into 11 of the most beautiful castles in Greece, along with pieces of their story and more.

11 Most Beautiful Castles in Greece

Greece is covered with amazing castles, so choosing the best is a tough task.

The following are just a handful for your consideration.

1. Bourtzi

Most people would love to have a castle on their own island.

How about a castle that is its own island?

Bourtzi is a Venetian castle in Nafplio, which is also called Castello Dello Soglio.

Constructed in the late 1400s by an Italian engineer named Gambelo, the small but impressive structure has been used as a prison, home to executioners, government housing, a hotel, and a restaurant.

Regardless of how it’s used, one thing is certain: it provides a gorgeous view from a boat or the shore.

You can also visit for tours, musical festivals, cultural events, and more.

2. Castello a Mare

If you’d like to take a walk into history, the Castello a Mare is a great place to do it.

Located in Heraklion, this structure is also known as Koules, Fortress Rocca a Mare, and Fort on the Sea.

There are several different theories about when it was actually constructed, going all the way back to the 9th century.

No matter when it was originally built and fortified, an earthquake destroyed its tower in the 1300s.

After various improvements and refortification processes, you can now visit this incredible stone architecture to experience mind-blowing wall sculptures, vaulted roofs, shipwreck findings, and more.

3. Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights

Sitting on the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes is Kastello – otherwise known as the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights.

It is said to be a 14th-century structure by Saint John’s knights.

And legend has it, it was built upon the foundation of Helios the sun god.

Kastello has nearly 160 rooms full of sculptures, Oriental vases, marble, and furniture from the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as pieces by artists such as F. Vellan, P. Gaudenzi, and more.

Unfortunately, parts of this amazing castle were destroyed in the 1800s, but visitors can still tour over 20 rooms.

4. Castle of Ioannina

In the year 528, Byzantine emperor Justinian I had a fortress constructed in Ioannina, Greece – and it’s still standing today.

The full structure covers 200 acres and has an incredible protective wall intended to keep out the enemy.

The Ottoman Turks did eventually find a way to take over the fortress and make changes to the structure.

Now, you can view the greatness of the castle, as well as the museums, homes, mosques, tombs, and storybook roads inside the walls.

And as there are also hotels, restaurants, cafes, and shops on the grounds, you can spend an entire vacation there.

5. Chlemoutsi Castle

The Chlemoutsi Castle is located on the Peloponnese Peninsula on Elis and is often referred to as Chateau Clermont, Castle Tornese, and Chloumoutzi.

This two-floor structure was built in the year 1220 with large fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, a central courtyard, a chapel, and a fortified wall set in a hexagonal pattern.

Visiting this medieval castle gives you an amazing view of the past – but it gives you much more than that.

Chlemoutsi Castle provides an irreplaceable view of the Ionian Sea.

There is also an exhibition on-site with more than 500 objects obtained from around the world by Crusaders.

6. Eptapyrgio Castle

If dark history is your thing, Eptapyrgio Castle might be the perfect place to visit.

Eptapyrgio Castle in Thessaloniki is also known as the Heptapyrgion Fortress and Yedi Kule – all three names meaning the Fortress of Seven Towers.

This Byzantine structure was built as early as 330 AD and overtaken by the Ottomans in the 1400s.

The Ottomans first used it as a military installation but later turned it into a prison – one tied to torture and some of the most brutal executions in history.

Though beautiful, many believe that the location is haunted by the souls of prisoners.

7. Agios Nikolaos Fortress

The Agios Nikolaos Fortress is located in West Crete and is home to the Byzantine church of Saint Nicholas at Kiriakoselia.

It was built in the 1400s to protect the port of Mandraki, though it sustained damage soon after between an earthquake and the Turkish invasion.

Agios Nikolaos Fortress is an incredible piece of history and architectural beauty, including a lighthouse that was built in 1863 by the French Ottoman Lighthouse Society.

A visit to this location will also give you an amazing view of the ocean, three intriguing windmills, and a bronze deer statue.

8. Castle of Astypalaia

On a hilltop of Chora in Astypalea, Greece sits the marvelous medieval structure of the Castle of Astypalaia.

This 14th-century castle was built with local stones, which give it an old feel.

However, the whitewashed domes on top add a bit of a modern twist.

On one side, you can look out at the city, and on the other, the beauty of the sea.

Walking through the castle is a great way to take in the beautiful yet simple architecture.

However, it’s stunning in the glow of city lights as you take a stroll through the streets.

9. Castle of Molyvos

Another hilltop beauty is the Castle of Molyvos – otherwise known as the Castle of Mithymna.

It was built in 1373 and is the second-largest fortress located on Lesvos by the Eastern Aegean Sea.

This multi-acre structure was built in a polygonal design and has a total of 10 towers once used for lookouts.

Built with large stones and a cobblestone walkway, the Castle of Mithymna is an impressive stronghold that looks amazing up close or from afar.

Be sure to stop at the visitor center to dive deeper into the castle’s historical significance.

10. Castle of Skyros

On the highest point of Skyros sits a 10th-century castle that was built to protect the town from both pirates and other enemies.

Though most medieval castles are considered a priority to maintain and preserve, the Castle of Skyros has missed out on much of this attention.

While that might seem bad, it actually means that you get an even more authentic look into the past – and the marble lion that was built into the wall.

On the same grounds, you’ll find the Monastery of Agios Georgios – or the Church of Saint George – another great structure to view.

11. Methoni Fortress

The Castle of Methoni or Methoni Fortress was built on the coast of the Peloponnese in the 7th century AD.

It was originally used by the Byzantines as a fort, and then later by the Venetians as a financial center and town.

Over the years, it changed hands, especially after the Ottoman invasion.

You can now visit this historical site by crossing a bridge that is almost 150 feet long and has 14 equally amazing arches.

What was once considered one of the safest castles in all of Europe is still a favorite tourist destination.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many castles are there altogether in Greece?

This is a difficult question to answer for various reasons, as many are still being found and it really depends on your definition of a castle.

As of now, there are at least 1200 structures – including actual castles, fortresses, and towers – that fit the basic idea.

Were all Greek castles made of stone?

Yes, most were made with a mix of stone, concrete, and bricks.

The purpose was to keep the structure as strong as possible, but this mixture also gave them the beautiful, unique look that we still marvel at today.

What is the oldest castle in Greece?

The Castle of Ioannina is the oldest known castle in the country, as it was built in 528 AD.

However, with so many castles still standing – and some that were utterly destroyed over time – it can be difficult to know for sure.

The Acropolis of Asini is the next oldest, as it was constructed in 600 AD.

Most of the other popular castles were made in the 1400s and later.

What other Greek castles should I visit?

The castles on this list are just a sample of what’s available, but there are many others to see and enjoy.

Some of these include Angelokastro Fortress, Fortezza of Rethymno, Nafpaktos Bay Fortress, the Castle of Kalamata, the White Tower of Thessaloniki, Mystras Castle, Palamidi, Corfu Castle, and the Castle of Monemvasia.

Is there any way to go on a tour to visit all of the castles in Greece?

With hundreds to visit, it can be quite an undertaking to visit them all.

You can visit as many as your calendar and budget will allow, but there’s not really one tour package that will cover them all.

Instead, you’ll want to make a list of your priorities and either find a package that will cover most or put several packages together.

Did people ever live in these castles?

If you dig into the history of castles, you will find that at various times, some castles were homes.

However, you’ll find that the greatest purposes of these castles were actually quite different.

In most cases, they were built to fortify territories, provide safe zones for churches, keep a lookout from the towers, and give the military an area to train and defend.

Are all Greek castles open for visiting?

Again, not all have been discovered and some that have are being restored.

Most of the well-known – and many of the not-so-well-known – castles are at least partially open to the public.

If you want to take a trip, check that the castle you want to visit won’t be closed for renovations before you book your flight.

1 Comment on 11 Most Beautiful Castles in Greece

  1. As a local, these castles are not only stunning but also hold great historical significance for our country.

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