Nafplio, or Anapli, the capital of Argolis, is one of the well-known and most beautiful cities in Greece. Apart from its administrative function it is also an important tourist centre, busy all year round.
According to the legend, the city takes its name from its founder, Nauplios, the son of Poseidon and Amimoni. In ancient times Nafplion was basically overshadowed by Argos, which used Nafplion as a port from the 7th century BC.
During Byzantine times and from the 11th century onwards, its importance as a major trading centre, increased steadily.
From then on, Nauplion went through a series of occupations: first the Franks, then the Venetians followed by the Ottoman Turks who lost control to the Venetians for a short while, before retaking the city.
The city of Nauplion, or the Napoli di Romania as it was named by the Venetians, took shape during the first Venetian occupation, when, towards the end of the 15th century, artificial banks were built into the sea to form the lower city. Today, this area is regarded as the historical centre of the modern city. Until that time habitation had only been possible on the rock of the Acronauplia. Other notable works of the period are the Castello di Toro and the Bourtzi.
In 1686, the Venetians, lead by the highly capable general, Francesco Morosini, hold onto it for the short period until 1715. Nafplion became a very important city during this period as the capitol of the Morean kingdom. The greatest work carried out during the second Venetian occupation is without doubt the Fort of Palamidi.
The second and harsher Turkish occupation began in 1715 and the city began to fall into decline, especially after the headquarters of the Pasha were moved to Tripoli. According to the descriptions of foreign travelers of the time, the city was mostly occupied by Turks and a few Christians who were restricted to the Psaromachalas area. Many homes were abandoned; the harbour filled with rubbish and the stench was unbearable.
On the night of 29th November in 1822, after many months of siege, the Palamidi fell to the Greeks as the result of a surprise attack led by Staikos Staikopoulos.From then on, the city began to develop at great speed and crowds of refugees flooded in from the surrounding areas that were still under the yoke of Turkish rule. The situation in the city is elegantly brought to life by Dimitrios Vyzantios in his popular play, 'Babylon', which is set in Nafplion in 1827.
The city reached the peak of its glory when it became the capitol of the Greek state from 1827 to 1834. On the 8th January 1828 the first governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, alighted at Nafplion. The city was full of cafes, and in the salons of notable local families there were balls and literary soirees. A printing press was established and for a short while there was a reading room.
On 27th September 1831 Ioannis Kapodistrias was murdered outside the church of Agios Spiridon and, on 25th January 1833, the people of Nafplion welcomed Otto, the first king of Greece. He remained in Nafplion for a short while, until around the end of 1834 when the capitol of Greece was moved to Athens.
After the Nafpliaka, the city once again fell into decline. Nowadays, Nafplion is a provincial town, which, over the last few years, has developed into a popular destination for Greek and foreign tourists.
For more information visit Nafplion Municipality website at www.nafplio.gr