Pyrgos Castle on Santorini is one of the five Venetian castles found on the island. Their main purpose was to give shelter to the inhabitants during pirate attacks and invasions of hostile armies. At the top of the castle was the high tower of Goulas, which served as an observation point.
However, it was later demolished and the St. Georgios Monastery was built in its place. According to experts, this castle is the youngest of all those located on the island, it is also quite well preserved. Another reason why it is worth visiting is the beautiful views of the entire island of Santorini and the Aegean Sea.
Location of the castle of Pyrgos
Pyrgos is the highest situated settlement on Santorini. As a result, you can enjoy truly beautiful and impressive views from it. Precisely because of its height above sea level, this place was chosen as suitable for a defensive fortification. It is an excellent position for strategic reasons. The castle itself is a walled (partly destroyed) part of the old town – inside you will find houses, churches and other buildings. Visiting the castle is actually wandering through narrow streets among historic buildings.
History of Pyrgos Castle
Pyrgos Castle was built as the last of this type of fortification in 1580. The settlement was built on a network of underground passages that could provide shelter for the inhabitants. The structure was built by the Venetians, who were essentially invaders on Santorini. They wanted to defend themselves against the Frankish occupation and needed adequate fortifications to do so.
There was only one entrance to the castle, and above it, on a wooden structure, were placed vats with boiling oil, which could be poured on people trying to break into the castle. Legends also speak of a network of tunnels which could have provided an escape route from the besieged castle. Although the castle suffered damage in the 1956 earthquake, it is still quite well preserved.
There are several historical churches in the castle area and its surroundings. Particularly noteworthy are:
- Agia Theodosia near the entrance of the castle (each of the five castles on Santorini had a church dedicated to this patroness), originally built in 1639, renovated in 1857, collapsed during the 1956 earthquake, the current church was built in 1965,
- Agios Georgios – a church belonging to the Monastery of Profiti Elias, originally built in 1680, renovated in 2002,
- Agios Nikolaos located in Ypsilou Kafene Square outside the walls (next to it there is also a plaque commemorating those who died in the Balkan and Greek-Turkish wars between 1912 and 1921), built in 1660, renovated in 1980,
- The Eisodion of Theotokou located at the highest point of the castle, built between 1660 and 1661,
- The Koimisis of Theotokou, which is one of the oldest religious buildings on the island of Santorini, dating from the 10th century.
The rest of the city, outside its walls, was called “Exoporta” or “out of doors” by the locals.