THE FORTIFICATIONS of ACROCORINTH

The mountain castle of Acrocorinth was systematically inhabited since the 13th c., as archaeological finds such as pottery have evidenced. According to a pilgrim’s description of 1395, the city of Corinth consisted of 50 families, all living in a half vacant village within the enclosure of the fortress walls. During the Medieval period, certain reinforcement works were concluded to the already existing walls. The main body of the curtain wall in the southeastern sector belongs to the Byzantines, earlier than the 13th. c., while the fortifications were augmented by William Villehardouin in the middle of 13th c. In 1324 the castle was refortified by the Angevin Prince of Achaea John of Gravina, later a tower was constructed on the southwestern top, while at the beginning of 15th c. a third defensive fortification was constructed along the western slope of the steep hill, etc.

At the middle of 15th c., Acrocorinth falls under the Ottoman rule (1458). Ottoman Turks proceeded in an extensive repair and reinforcement project of the pre-existing fortifications, while the settlement that was located behind the inner western fortification (depicted as fortification III) was enlarged, as it was expanded towards the western area, occupying the area between enceinte II and III. By the 17th c., the Muslim population of Acrocorinth resided inside the inner castle behind the 3rd line, while Christian houses were located further down the hillside. Many monuments that are still found in the castle date from the first Ottoman period (1458-1687).

Sir George Wheler and the French scholar Dr Jakob Spon were the first travellers who visited Greece by the time of the 17th c. Their passage from the area of Corinth and its castle was described in their written memoirs, (Wheler’s “A Journey into Greece in the company of dr Spon of Lyon” and Spon’s, “Voyage d'Italie, de Dalmatie, de Grece et du Levant”). Jacob Spon had noted the good state of the walls, but also the scarcity of cannons and of men to guard the castle.

Evliya Çelebi who visited Acrocorinth in 1668, records in his Seyâhatnâme ("book of travels”) the fortress. The description was published by MacKay Pierre, “Acrocorinth in 1668, a Turkish Account”, in Hesperia, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1968), by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, pp. 389-391, as well as a few years later by Kostakis Thanasis, «Ο Εβλιγιά Τσελεμπή στην Πελοπόννησο», Πελοποννησιακά 14 (1981), p. 246 and Loupis Dimitris, in his translation of Evliya Celebi visit to the Peloponnese area.

By 1687, the Venetians took over the castle of Acrocorinth, an occupation that lasted for the 28 years that followed until 1715. The importance of the area was evidenced through numerous plans and registers found –today kept in the Museum Collections of Venice, in which works of reinforcement, rebuilding of barracks, construction of artillery platforms, etc. were thoroughly described. The Venetians proceeded in the restoration of the walls, that the Ottomans had not tried to defend and in rebuilding the artillery parapets in the one sector where artillery availed. 

After the recapture of the castle by the Ottomans by the beginning of the 18th c. (1715), the fortified area continued to be inhabited. The castle area remained though by the Ottomans closed to the foreign Travellers, so that they would not be able to record the state of the fortifications and the number of Turkish soldiers protecting it.

 

 

SOURCES

Andrews Kevin, “Corinth”, in Castles of the Morea, ASCSA, 2006, (1st edition Princeton, 1953), p. 135-145.
Athanasoulis Demetrios, To Κάστρο Ακροκορίνθου και η ανάδειξή του (2006-2009), 25η Εφορεία Βυζαντινών Αρχαιοτήτων, Hellenic Ministry of Culture Publication, Ancient Corinth 2009, p. 80-81.
Carpenter Rhys and Bon Antoine, Corinth, Results of excavations, vol. III, part II, “The Medieval Fortifications of Acrocorinth and Vicinity”, in The Defenses of Acrocorinth and the Lower Town, Cambridge University Press, 1936, pp. 146-149.
Chandler Richard, Travels in Greece, or, An account of a tour made at the expense of the Society of Dilettanti, 1738-1810, London, pp. 234-240.
Eβλιγιά Τσελεμπί, Οδοιπορικό στην Ελλάδα (1668-1671). Πελοπόννησος, νησιά Ιονίου, Κρήτη, νησιά Αιγαίου, εισαγωγή, μετάφραση από τα τουρκικά, σημειώσεις Loupis Dimitris, εκδ. Εκάτη, 1994, 1999, Athens, p. 29-32.
Kordosis Michalis, ˘Συμβολή στην ιστορία και τοπογραφία της περιοχής Κορίνθου στους μέσους χρόνους", Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορικών Μελετών, 159, Αthens 1981.
Kostakis Thanasis, «Ο Εβλιγιά Τσελεμπή στην Πελοπόννησο», Πελοποννησιακά 14 (1981), p. 246.
Koumoush Anastasia, Ακροκόρινθος, εκδ. Τ.Α.Π., Αthens 2008.
MacKay Pierre, “Acrocorinth in 1668, a Turkish Account”, in Hesperia, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1968), published by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, pp. 386-397.
Spon Jakob et Wheler George, Voyage d'Italie, de Dalmatie, de Grece et du Levant, Lyon, 1678, vol. II, p. 287.

Eleni I. Kanetaki

Postbyzantine church of St, Demetrios Ancient Corinth

 

Topographic Map of Acrocorinth, Greek Army Topographical, Depicts the following, Map, Topography, date taken 1927/4, (Corinth Drawing: 260 001: Topographic Map of Acrocorinth).  http://ascsa.net/id/corinth/drawing/260%20001?q=acrocorinth&t=drawing&v=icons&sort=&s=2

 

Morea-.Acrocorinth, Franco-Ottoman fortification  from Machiel Kiel’s digital archive.Morea-Acrocorinth, Franco-Ottoman fortifications from Machiel Kiel’s digital archive.Acrocorinth castle, (http://s.kathimerini.gr/resources/2014-12/akrokorinthos-thumb-large.jpg_.
West fortifications, (Athanasoulis Demetrios, To Κάστρο Ακροκορίνθου και η ανάδειξή του (2006-2009), 25η Εφορεία Βυζαντινών Αρχαιοτήτων, Hellenic Ministry of Culture Publication, Ancient Corinth 2009, p. 51).lWest fortifications. Lines of defense II and III, from the North (Athanasoulis Demetrios, To Κάστρο Ακροκορίνθου και η ανάδειξή του (2006-2009), 25η Εφορεία Βυζαντινών Αρχαιοτήτων, Hellenic Ministry of Culture Publication, Ancient Corinth 2009, p. 56).The main third Gate with its impressive two towers, (architectural survey by Chrysafi-Zografou M., published in Athanasoulis Demetrios, To Κάστρο Ακροκορίνθου και η ανάδειξή του (2006-2009), 25η Εφορεία Βυζαντινών Αρχαιοτήτων, Hellenic Ministry of Culture Publication, Ancient Corinth 2009, p. 59).




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