One of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Greece, Nafplio speaks of its history and of those who have passed through; the Byzantines, the Franks, the Venetians, the Ottomans, conquerors and benefactors all. The old section of the city extending out into the Argolid Gulf is a mix of towering ramparts, colourful houses, and narrow cobbled streets with stone stairs that lead to the hilltop fortresses of Acronafplia and Palamidi, where the views sweep down to the harbourside and out across the bay to the mountains of Arcadia.
Nafplio is a city born from myth as it was founded by Nafplios, the son of Poseidon and Amymone. Nafplios married Klymeni and had three children; Nafsimedon, Oiakos, and Palamedes, a wise son and inventor of mathematics and writing for whom Nafplios built a castle.
Long-living in the shadow of illustrious neighbours, the area was inhabited in the Neolithic era, but while the Mycenaeans were building a great empire around 1400 BC, little was written about Nafplio. It fell off the radar in the Classical era when nearby Argos rose to prominence and they destroyed Nafplio for siding with Sparta in the Second Messinian War. The Byzantines took an interest in the 13th century as the city clashed with Frankish crusaders. However, it is the two periods of Venetian rule that most influenced the architecture, culture and traditions of the city. In the 1700’s during their second conquest, the Venetians strengthened the existing fortifications and built a second fortress, Palamidi, to safeguard the now important port. The Ottomans soon wrestled back control, yet it is largely the remains of this era that make it the charming city it is today. Napflio would rise to prominence in the War of Independence, becoming the first capital of the newly founded Greek state and starring in the birth of a fledgling nation.
Today, it is a much loved provincial city, busy in high season and at weekends as Athenians escape the capital. The central squares of Nafplio are beguiling and enigmatic with a deep history that envelops the streets, and there are a handful of beaches to complement the sightseeing. Moreover, Nafplio makes a good base for exploring the nearby ancient cities that rose to spectacular heights and yet fell away while our vibrant, colourful city continues to make its own history.