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Alan Gow Checked Out in the Peleponese Region of Greece
19 January 2018
The castle of Methoni, built in the early 13th century, is among the largest castles in the Mediterranean and was one of the two “eyes of Venice in the Mediterranean” which were the forts that the Venetians used to control trade and defend their interests in the region.  The current castle was constructed over the earlier Byzantine era defences during the two periods of Venetian occupation (from 1209 AD to 1500 AD and 1685 AD to 1715 AD).  The Turks occupied and added to the structure in between and after these dates until they were eventually ousted in 1833 when Greece won independance from the Ottoman empire.

All of these castles have such an interesting history of different cultures kicking out the previous occupants, adding their own bits and bobs, then getting kicked out by the next lot and so on.

We arrived at Methoni still feeling somewhat windswept by the gale that had hammered us the night before and throughout the morning in Pylos.  Fortunately, Methoni faces more to the south and was spared the full force, so things felt a lot calmer here.

Pylos being hammered by waves
Photograph by Alan Gow
The beach itself was relatively sheltered although there were still some nice breakers rolling alongside the concrete pier.  A brief walk over the hill to the castle exposed us to the full force of the wind and we reached a bluff where we had a great view of the seas directly impacting on the castle walls.  The sight of the massive waves breaching over the ancient stonework was simply awe-inspiring and I couldn’t help but marvel at how well the walls must have been built to still be standing after over 600 years of that sort of treatment.  The fortress walls must have been 20m high and with the waves were reaching virtually to the top of the ramparts, it was exhilarating to see and feel the forces of nature at work in such a powerful display.

The wind was so strong that it was hard to stand up and a particularly strong gust whipped Ruth’s ‘All Blacks” woollen beanie off her head and towards the cliff edge.  Reluctantly we let the wind take it away rather than risk getting any closer to the drop off.  The good news is that we searched for it the next day and found it huddled in close to the cliff. 

Methoni Pier
Photograph by Alan Gow
Waves Breaking on Methoni Castle
Photograph by Alan Gow
The castle viewed from the beach beside our parking spot, extends all of the way from the tip of the headland to the township of Methoni.   In the light of the morning sunrise, the stone glowed an almost golden colour.
Sunrise on Methoni Castle
Photograph by Alan Gow
The castle is more like a fortified town with walls enclosing the entire cape and housing many buildings, including churches and turkish baths.
Ruins of the Church of St Sophia
Photograph by Alan Gow
Methoni Castle – Inside the Walls
Photograph by Alan Gow
In many parts, the walls are still fully intact however, restoration has taken place on some of the structures, particularly on the south side.  The gate here leads to the Bourtzi, which is a small octagonal fortress, built by the Turks and separated from the main castle by a stone walkway.  This was the scene of the grisly slaughter of many soldiers and inhabitants of Methoni in the 1500’s when the castle was recaptured.
Rebuilt South Gate
Photograph by Alan Gow
Bourtizi Through Upper Window
Photograph by Alan Gow
We easily spent three hours wandering the extensive ruins and marvelling at the skills and sheer effort that went into building these massive fortifications.  After a well-earned lunch, we departed for Camping Thines just over the hill, where we had agreed to meet up with some fellow travellers for some social times.