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Nafplio is a small town in Peloponnese (Greece). Many times it is also referenced as Nauplio, Nauplia or Nafplia. The name is the remnant of the old venetian name Napoli di Romania, from the Greek "nea poli"="new town" of Romania, the name of the area during the late Byzantine times. A lovely romantic downtown with cozy streets, a great place to stay for radial travelling around Peloponnese.
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Points of Interest in Nafplion
At a first glance, Nafplio looks like an Italian city because of its architecture and the colourful houses. More fundamentally, Nafplio has a quite an interesting architecture, with many traces of eighteenth century European towns, Byzantine and Ottoman influences. Many of the old town's buildings date back to two hundred years ago.
- Vouleftikon, the first parliament of the Greek Nation, right south of the Syntagma sq, earlier used as an ottoman Jami.
- Venetian Headquarters on the same sq, now an archeological museum
- St Spyridon church, (1702) where the first governor of Greece was killed, with traces of the killing bullet, on the mid of Kapodistriou str, named after him.
- St George, (17th century), the metropolis of the town, on Plapouta str
- St Nicolaus, (18th century), on Philellinon sq, by the port
- Small Jami, on the east of Syntagma sq, now used as a theater
- Frangokklisia, the oldest church in the town, built on several periods, still having traces of the old Catholic (Franc) Monastery. On Fotomara str, by the foot of the Akronafplia castle, on the south east of the old town.
The Archeological Museum
The museum is right on Syntagma Square, in a Venetian building of 1714 with impressive stone arches. Recently renovated and restored internally and externally (reopens October 2008 after 5 years), it includes new showcases and exhibits, accessibility and facilities for people with disabilities, and air-conditioning. In the new multimedia hall you can see documentary films, whereas children can take part in the regular programs that take place. The most important exhibit of the museum is the impressive bronze armor suit dating back to the 13th century B.C. and once worn by a Mycenaean soldier. Get the full story in the multimedia hall and travel through time to the era of ancient Greece. Entrance 2€ general / 1€ over 65 or students out of the EU / Free under 18 and EU students. M 1:30PM-8PM, Tu-Su 8AM-8PM.
The War Museum
In a beautiful historic building that served as the first military school in Greece, on the middl of Amalias str. Hosting war relics, guns, maps, paintings and photographs from the Greek revolution till the Second World War. Tu-Sa 9AM-2PM, Su and national days 9:30AM-2PM.
The Komboloi Museum
The first Komboloi (or worry-beads) Museum – said to be the only one worldwide – was founded in Nafplio in 1998 by Aris and Rallou Evangelinos, who have been collecting and studying the history of komboloi since 1958. The museum has had more than 55.000 visitors so far and the unique collection consists of approximately 1500 kombolois (from Asia Minor, Greece, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Persia etc.) that date from 1700 to 1950 and are made of various precious and rare materials. On the ground floor there is the workshop where old kombolois are repaired and new, either original or copies of the old ones, are produced. 9:30AM–9:30PM daily. Entrance fee for the museum: € 3,00
The Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation Museum (PFF or PLI in Greek)
The permanent exhibition at the museum is dedicated to the “Greek town – Nafplio 1822-1922”. On the ground floor, miscellaneous museum items are presented in a daring and free arrangement in order to emphasize on the multiformity of the collections, while one can also visit the new expanded museum shop. Exhibition W-M 9AM-2:30PM, 6PM-9PM, Tu 6PM-9PM. Museum shop W-M 9AM-2:30PM, 6PM-9PM, Su 6PM-9PM. Full admission : 4 € (morning)/ 3 € (afternoon), Reduced admission for persons over 65m and an adult accompanying a child. Museum Tour : 3 €
The Stone Museum
An extension of the relevant museum in Lygourio. Containing among others specimens of fossils from the Epidaurus field, maybe the largest ammonites field in the world. Free admission. 16Apr-14Oct 09:00-14:00 & 17:00-21:00, 15Oct-15Apr 09:00-17:00, Sundays 10:00-16:00, Mondays closed.
The Ouzo museum
belonging to Karonis distilleries, it is located at Ag. Paraskevi area .
the National Gallery
Located on Sidiras Merarchias str, just opposite of "alevri+zahari". Annex of the National Greek Gallery. In a building that a century ago served as the hospital of the town. Hosting paintings of famous Greek painters. M, Th, Sa 10AM-3PM; W, F 10AM-3PM, 5PM-8PM; S 10AM-2PM. Free M.
the Municipal Art Gallery
on Vasileos Konstantinou str in old town, hosting various seasonal exhibitions
Nafplion Art Gallery
on Vas ALexandrou 5. M-F 11AM-2PM, 7PM-9:30PM; Sa S 11AM-2:30PM
Alpha Bank Cultural Center
Presenting the exhibition "Fred Βoissonnas,pictures of Greece", till October 31, 2010. At Kolletti 4, Tu-Sa 10AM-2PM, 6PM-8:30PM, Su and holidays 10AM-3PM.
Palamedes Public Library
On Koletti and Amalias str. In an ex girls school building. M-F 8AM-6:30PM.
Standing like a crown over Nafplio, Palamidi fortress (build by the Venetians around 1686 and completed to its present form in 1714) was so well designed that all attempts to conquer it were unsuccessful, making it a legend at the time. Finally, in 1822, the Greeks succeeded, creating surprise and amazement. In very good condition, you can visit it by taking the legendary 999 (in fact 857) stairsteps, or simply drive there. The view is unique, and you will also see many historical monuments, such as the small cave-prisons (also prison of the national hero Kolokotronis) and the church of Saint Andreas. At night, drive back there to enjoy a scenic view of Nafplio under the moonlight, as well as a big part of the Argolic gulf and plain, the lighted castle of Argos to the north, and the lights of small villages along the road to the neighboring prefecture of Arcadia and the town of Astros, at the north-west. Daily 08:30-15:00, 4e/2e.
The first part of the Venetian fortress of Bourtzi was built around 1400, on top of a rock-island at the entrance of the port. The architect was the venetian Antonio Gambell. During its history it has been used as a fort, as a shelter for the Greek government, as a home for unwelcome executioners, even as a hotel. Occupied by the Turks from 1715 to 1822 Today, it only takes 5 minutes to visit Bourtzi with the small boats available at the port and observe the town from the opposite side. Don’ t miss it (4e round-trip).
Old town fortifications
All of the town used to be fortified, with two parts, the seaside merchant quarter, being the present old town, and the uphill, the barracks quarter, now an open archeological site, partly hosting a hotel. At the old town fortifications only remain in the east limit, just in front of the central bus station. The large protecting trench now has been covered and it is part of the city's park.
At the other end of the gulf there is the undersea fountain of Anavalos, protected by an in-sea dam, hydrating all the area.
Due to the quality of the soil there are some interesting dolines (sinkholes) in the general area, some of which are hosting various old relics.
- Tiryns, Archeo Tirintha (Walk from Nafplio). 8:00 - 3:00. Really wondefull walled Mycenean palace about 4 kilometers from town. The site is very well preserved and easy to follow with a guidebook. This is where Herculese came back to between labours. To walk or cycle there go to the old railway station in the park next to the bus stop and follow the tracks as far as you can before cutting across to the main road. You cannot miss the site
Nafplio was the second capital of newly formed Greece after Misologgi until the capital eventually became Athens. It is an historical city due to its meaning to the Greek Revolution. It has a fantastic centre with small neoclassical historical houses, squares and churches.
It is the capital of the prefecture of Argolida.
A sovereign naval nation-city in ancient times, Nafplio was founded and named after -according to Greek mythology- by hero Nafplios, father of Palamidis. A target for Franks, Venetians and Ottomans, they all repeatedly tried, and succeeded quite a few times, to conquer it. In 1829, after the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, Nafplio was chosen as the first capital of the new-founded state and democracy. His palace was on the square in front of today's town hall. In 1833 the capital moved to Athens, the town remaining capital of the prefecture.
Nowadays, when taking a walk in the picturesque alleys of the Old Town, visitors are drawn by the venetian balconies and the wonderful neoclassical buildings and mansions, images that bring feelings of sweet nostalgia. Relax at the numerous cafés on the port whilst viewing the sea, and visit Palamidi fortress for a scenic view of the Argolic gulf.
Travelers mix: Many Greeks come here for weekends from Athens.
The town is built in two parts, the old, covering all the peninsula and the new, expanding to the north and the east. Upon your arrival you will probably drop off at the central bus station, which is at the east end of the old town, or at the port, hosting a large parking area, at the north seaside of the town.
It is sometimes confusing to some that the hill overlooking the town is on the south of the town and the sea on the north. But once you notice it is easy to walk around the orderly shaped blocks.
The major reference point of the old town is Syntagma sq., a very large square, where the Venetians held their headquarters at old times. Just two blocks north and west is the Philelinnon sq., by the sea and at the end of the seaside part of the road. Here lies also the old Customs building.
The reference point for the whole town, new and old, is the conjunction of the road coming from athens (Argous str) and the one going east to Epidavros and Porto Heli (Asklepeou str). It is named "endekate", meaning eleventh, after the bus-stop numbering system of old times. It is from here that a large park starts, covering the old train route, leading to the beginning of the old town.
Strolling in the old city of Nafplio
One of the best characteristics of Nafplio is that everything in the Old Town is within walking distance. In fact you can walk from one end to another in less than 15’, and that’s why you can see couples in love, happy kids, and large groups of friends everywhere in the town, at the port, in the alleys, always walking around and enjoying every part of the town. Because of the small distances and the paved ways, there are few areas cars are allowed to pass, and there is no bus service in the old part of town, only the central station that takes you to the new part of the town and the rest of the prefecture. So, leave the car in the parking and enjoy walking around Nafplio all year round. Alternatively, you can take the horse carriage or the small train for a tour in the town.
Some distinquished buildings are
- the First New Greek Gymnasium (built 1833)
- the old Town Hall building (Iatrou building)
- the house of the Viceroy
- the Alevras-Lambiris building (1830)
- the old train station (1890)
Climb 999 (in reality 857) stairs to the castle of Palamidis. You may get tired but the view is said to be worth it. We walked the paved road down to the crossing and went right down to "Karathona Beach". From "Karathona Beach" there is a walking path along the coast-line back to "Arvanithia Beach" and Nafplio. Its a nice scenic walk and takes about 1 hour.
During your strolls in Nafplio, it is worth adding 15 minutes to your schedule to walk around Psaromachala (meaning fishermonger's), the area under the rocky hill of Acronafplia. In contrast with the large, classical style mansions and open spaces of the main parts of the old town, here you will see small, white houses, with yards filled by flowers, narrow alleys and stairways, cats lurking and mewing, and in general the feeling of a small, traditional neighborhood, reminding to many the Greek islands. Add to the picture some larger mansions that have been renovated and turned to guesthouses and hotels and you have a unique part of Nafplio, with great view and good hospitality.
Enjoying the sea
Very close to the town is the quiet sandy beach of Karathona, just south of Palamede castle hill. There the locals gather to enjoy swimming in this blue flagged  clean beach. At the back of the castles, 10 minutes walk just south of the town, is also the Arvanitia beach. Even more south, approachable by local bus or car, there is a series of marvelous beaches, very popular during the summer.
Daily Cruises in the Argolic Gulf
If you have time you van try this cruise, giving you the pleasure to enjoy the sea and the seaside attractions of the area, including a bath stop! On the promenade where the boats for Bourtzi depart, usually once a day in summertime.
In the town there are two cinemas, both on 25 Martiou Str,
- One serving during wintertime, by the fire brigade, near the bus station and
- One serving during summertime, a must go open air, well in the Greek open air cinema tradition. Usually it hosts all latest productions. It is located at the other end of the 25th Martiou str, at the east end of the park, just underneath Palamede castle. Usually starting on 9p.m. Tel 2751068855.
There is also a theater, the Trianon, on Syntagma sq., serving various plays during all year long.
Around Holy Easter (moving fiest) there are several local festivities:
- 50 days before, Apokria fiest (the Greek Carnibal), with masqueraded parades, music and events around the town
- 49 days before, the Kathari Monday (the Greek Mardi Gras), with outdoor picknicking, kite flying, music
- 7 days before, start of the Holy Week, having on of its most beautiful moment on
- 2 days before, Holy Friday, a large parade out of each of the trhee main churches of the town, leading to
- day 1, the Holy Easter Sunday
- 7 days after, Sunday, the burning of Judas, at the nearby Asini Village
- 50 days after, the Monday of the Holy Spirit, a celebration of two days (starting on Sunday) in the nearby village of Lygourio and of Agia Triada.
Other festivities are:
- 25 March, National day celebration and religious fiest
- The first Sunday of May is the fiest of artichoke, in the nearby village of Iria
- On the last week of June, the Nafplio Festival , a week of classic music concerts in the historic sites and castles of the place, very much worth attending. For 2010 it will take place during 18-27 of June.
- On the 15th of August, the day of Madonna, a large fiest with religious parade around the town,
One has to try some of the goodies served in the various traditional bakeries around the town.
- Liz's Cupcakes™ (The Bakeshop+Cupcake Café), 13, 25 Martiou St. (Just before the park, opposite the open air cinema). A very interesting new arrival. All items made from scratch locally.
- Alevri+Zahari, at the middle of Sid. Merarhias str. The bakery-pastryshop, another local hit.
One should also try the locally made ice creams.
- Zorbas the Greek: family run, staff very nice. Salad, drinks and main for two persons about €27.
- Nafplios, best known as "Karamalis", at the port and near the start of the old town
- Popeye, Staikopoulou St. Italian style pizza, burgers, salads, pasta and sandwiches everything is fresh and made to order. Also have a good selection of Greek Micro Brewery beer.
There is also the usual choice of the Greek fast restaurants, best exemplified by Goody's, at the west end of the park, just before the end of the old town, a hundred meters from the bus station. Of course also numerous souvlaki and pizza spots, most around the north of the park area.
There are many restaurants with medium quality, usually targeted around the Greek tradition. A lot of them are spotted across Staikopoulou str. in the old town, or in the streets near the promenade. A few proposals:
- Kipos™ (Garden), 5, Ethnikis Antistaseos str. (just over Philellinon sq or one block west of Syntagma sq.), ☎ +30 2752022978. Mediaterranean - Italian style, probably one of the best choices.
- Omorfo Tavernaki is a good medium priced choice (if you manage to get a table), at the first parallel behind the port, Kotsonopoulou and Vas. Olgas str,
- Allaloum next to the Saint Nicolas Church.
- Koutouki Greek traditional cuisine. Next to St. Nicolas Church (Vas.Olgas str. 44)
- iliostasio a cafe & cocktail bar opposite to bourtzi, a beautiful and romantic place, at the west end of the promenade,
- to Lathos (the Wrong), one of the most atmospheric-psychedelic bars in Greece(!), at Vas. Konstantinou str, a few meters east of Syntagma Sq. Great Gin & Tonics.
- the cafeterias in the Syntagma sq, a quite atmospheric place for all times, where a lot of locals gather,
- the cafeterias by the sea, west of Philellinon sq, offering superb views of the Bourtzi castle and the sea, but a little more pricey,
- the train station cafe, within the park, not very much known, but keeping something from the old times of the area.
Nafplio has a history of Greek traditional culinary products, based on the tradition of locally produced crops.
In the last decades it has also become famous for its kombolois , or else worry-beads, made from amber and other materials. There is a museum for kombolois as well as many such shops.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Nafplio on Wikivoyage.