Only a couple of hours away from Athens there is a lovely small town which will stay in your memory for quite a while after visiting it. Nafplio is ideal if you want to take a break from the intriguing yet chaotic Athens and enjoy a relaxing day. Many call it the “most romantic” town in Greece, while others emphasize its rich history and fascinating location; I’ve been there a couple of times and yet I can’t make up my mind on which is its most relevant aspect; what I know is that the Italian ice-cream shop right behind the main square will definitely put you in the right mood to enjoy the city.
I’ve mentioned before Nafplio has had a full and significant history that has left clear marks within the city’s buildings, squares, and streets. In 1388 it became part of the Republic of Venice and it stayed under it, beside from 1540 to 1684, until 1715 when the Ottomans took control. The Venetians deeply shaped the city, not only by bringing their recognizable architectural style but also by fortifying it and building the Palamidi Castle. The same goes for the Ottoman period. Their influence has been obviously strong on Nafplio and it is testified by the mosques, and, especially, by the water castle, Bourtzi, built right in the middle of the harbour for defensive purposes. Nafplio has a special place in Greek history too, it was in fact named the first capital of the newly liberated Greece in 1829.
Nowadays this city has an elegant and sophisticated charm. Once you get here strolling around the city centre and enjoying the old buildings and the boutiques is a must; the central Syntagmatos Square has a mosque-cum-cinema at one end and the Venetian warehouse-cum-museum at the other, it is marble-paved and it has to be one of the most attractive squares in Greece. The other mosque nestling unobtrusively by palms in one corner was the first Greek parliament. Then a visit to the Palamidi castle, from which the view is stunning, and a walk on the boardwalk are good activities before sitting down in front of the harbour to enjoy a good meal in one of the many tavernas. Visiting the lovely Nafplio is perfect to treat yourself.
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