The Venetian Fortress Apano Kastro

Apart from the Venetian castle in the Chóra of Naxos, there is a second Venetian fortress on the island: the Apáno Kástro near Tsikalarió. It lies on a steep hill between the valley of Potamiá and the fertile plateau of the Tragaía and can be reached via a beautiful hiking trail from the village of Tsikalarió.

The history of the Apáno Kástro

Different versions exist of the history of the castle. Possibly a building or a fortress existed here already in antiquity, but hardly any trace of that remains. According to some sources the Venetian Marco Sanudo, when he conquered Naxos in 1207 AD, first settled on the Apáno Kástro, which according to that version must have existed and been in a habitable state at that time. According to other sources, the fortress was first built by his grandson Marco the Second towards the end of the 13th century firstly as a refuge because of the frequent pirate raids and also to intimidate the population, which tried to revolt against the oppression by the Venetian feudal lords, especially because they did not allow them to practice certain religious customs. Even if Marco II did not build the fortress, he certainly used it and maybe rebuilt or restored it.

The Venetian fortress Apáno Kástro is located in the gneiss landscape between Potamiá and the Tragaía.

The path to the fortress starts in Tsikalarió and passes some farms outside the village.

The Apáno Kástro consists of an outer, lower fortress on the southern slope of the mountain and the main fortress on the hilltop. Of most of the buildings and walls only the foundations are left. Best preserved are the four churches of the castle and the cisterns. In several buildings of the fortress, which stand near the steep edge of the hill, the outer side of the building has broken away because of the rapid erosion of the underground.

The fortress is located on the highest, steep hill of the gneiss area.

On the southern slope of the hill, below the main fortress, lies a larger fortified area with a number of buildings, especially churches. Some of the buildings probably had an agricultural function, as a millstone which lies there suggests. The outer fortress was accessible from the east side; the former entrance is protected by a protruding round tower with embrasures, the barbican.

Below the main fortress on the top of the hill lie several buildings on the southern slope, especially churches.

The former entrance on the flatter eastern slope is protected by a round tower of several storeys with embrasures that look towards all directions (barbican).

one of the embrasures of the Barbican

There are a number of chapels on the Kástro. This chapel, dedicated to St. George, lies on its own on the steep eastern slope.

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