Travels in Greece

Chlemoutsi Castle – Western Peloponnese

I had not even heard of Chlemoutsi Castle until we started looking for somewhere to go from Katakolo to do a bit of sightseeing, which is surprising since it is easily the best preserved Frankish castle in the Peloponnese and has some stunning views of the Ionian sea with the islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia in the distance.

Founded by the Frankish Prince Geoffrey I Villehardouin in 1220-23 and called at various points Clermont and the Castle Tornese, Chlemoutsi has a colourful history and has passed through the hands of the Franks, the Catalans, the Franks again, the House of Palaiologos, the Turks, The Venetians, the Turks again… you get the picture, and was in continuous use up until the Greek war of independence. While the Turks made minor modifications and adaptations for artillery use, the castle was largely untouched by both the Greeks and Venetians which has helped preserve its strong Frankish character until the present day.

The Castle consists of an inner enclosure built at the highest point of the hill and a large outer enclosure spreading north and west. The outer walls are accessed through a four walled tower with three successive arched gates which feature both the classic shuttered gates and an area for the throwing of hot oil and stones on the heads of invaders. Three round towers connect the outer walls, all hinting at Turkish construction, while inside the main courtyard the ruins of a mosque may be seen along with original aqueducts and cisterns for water storage.

The inner compound features the well preserved rooms of the Prince and his company, all of them two stories in which the fireplaces used to heat them may still be seen along with their distinctive Frankish characteristics. There are plans to open a small museum to showcase the castle’s Byzantine history, although in the summer of 2008, while the room existed, the museum was not an anyway near operation yet. The Castle is usually closed on Mondays, but is open throughout the year otherwise.

After the castle, if you are with a car why not head off to the beautiful sandy beach of Kalamia which has a small snack shack and a few free umbrellas, or if you so feel right next to it a couple of all inclusive resorts which are happy to rent you their umbrellas for the right price. On the way to the beach you could also pass by the thermal baths of Kyllini featuring both Roman era baths (fenced off and basically just a few walls), an odd art deco looking building (from the 50-60’s? now boarded up) and a couple of bubbling mud holes which the locals still use to lather themselves up, there is running water to wash off with and both the mud and water are said to have very healthy properties.


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7 responses so far

  • Rachel Brown, Jul 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    The castle is wonderful, even if we arrived too late to see the inside. The limited hours of operation are something to be aware of. Mid-afternoon seems to be when some of the Greek attractions close, whereas in other places (Canada, for one) attractions tend to stay open until late afternoon.

    Back to the castle. We drove up to it from the east and it was breathtaking, like a stone crown on a hilltop. Although we could not go inside, walking around its impressive perimeter and taking in the vistas was more than worth the visit.

    On that hot, dry hilltop, we were greeted by a couple of hungry, homeless dogs – a mom and her pup. Fortunately, we had some food scraps for them. It seems that no matter where you go in Greece, there are homeless dogs, so if you are a dog lover, keep a supply of scraps with you.

  • paul, Feb 16, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    going on a cruise ,stopping there .is the castle worth a visit?

  • admin, Feb 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Hi Paul,
    If your stop gives you enough time to get up there, in my opinion the castle is definately worth a visit!

  • Aleaza Goldberg, Nov 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I will be arriving in Katakolon on a cruise ship at 8:00 am and staying for just 1 day. How long does it take to get to the Chlemoutsi Castle and would that be the best thing to see (other than Olympia)? I will have 2 pre-teens with me.
    Thanks.

    Aleaza

  • Travels in Greece, Nov 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Hi Aleaza,

    It is about an hour (a bit less depending on how you drive!) by car. For pre-teens it would be a good bet, they can run around and explore the inside pretty safely. Have fun!

  • TravelXena, Nov 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks so much for this idea! I had a chance to drive there a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing! Will post my adventure to my blog.

  • Travels in Greece, Nov 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Glad you had a good time! Looking forward to reading the post!