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Nafplion

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Peloponnese : Nafplion
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Nafplion (or Nafplio) is a small town in Peloponnese (Greece). It has a lovely romantic downtown with cozy streets and is a great place to stay for radial travelling around Peloponnese.

Understand

Nafplio was the first capital of newly formed Greece until the capital 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.

Brief history

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.

Today

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.

Get in

By train

There is a train connection, but it is not the best way to travel. There are two daily trains to Athens, you have to change at Argos. Sept 2008: All train services have been cancelled. It remains unknown if they will be resumed.

By car

From Athens the trip is 1.5 hours by car.

By bus

From Athens, there are 12 to 15 daily buses. The buses of KTEL [1] leave Athens from Terminal A in Kifissos central bus station. The journey takes about 2.5 hours and the price is 11 euros (July 2007) in one direction. Return tickets get a discount. There are buses from the Corinth-Channel Bus Terminal to Nafplio via Argos (Nov. 2008), I guess they come from Athens.

Get around

Nafplio is a good base to head out to Epidaurus or Mycenae. Both spots are serviced by local buses. In winter there is a bus at 10:15 and 12:00 to Epidaurus (Nov. 2008).

See

Nafplio looks like an Italian city because of its architecture and the colourful houses.

There are four museums: the War museum, the Archeological museum, the Folk museum (PLI), and the Komboloi museum.

The Archeological Museum

The museum is right on Sintagma 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.

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. Museum & shop open: Monday to Sunday 09:30 – 21:30 Entrance fee for the museum: € 3,00

The Peloponnesian Folklore Museum (PLI)

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. At the old Nafplio railway station, Stathmos (station), the first childhood museum in Greece, houses daily educational programmes for children. Exhibition – Museum shop opening hours: 09:00 – 14:30 & 18:00 – 21:00 Exhibition: Closed Tuesday morning Museum shop: Closed Sunday afternoon

The Castles

Palamidi

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) stair-steps, 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.

Bourtzi

The Venetian fortress of Bourtzi was built around 1698, on top of a rock-island at the entrance of the port. During its history it has been used as a fort, as a shelter for Greek government, as a home for unwelcome executioners, even as a hotel. 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.

Do

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.

Palamidi

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.

Psaromachalas

During your strolls in Nafplio, it is worth adding 10 minutes to your schedule to walk around Psaromachala, 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.

Buy

Although Nafplio has no relevant history, in the last decades it has 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.

Eat

There are many restaurants with medium to bad quality however you can get a good meal at "OMORFO TABERNAKI" (if you manage to get a table) and at "Allaloum" next to the Saint Nicolas Church

Budget

Zorbas the Greek: family run, staff very nice. Salad, drinks and main for two persons about €27.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

at 'iliostasio' a cafe & coctail bar opposite to bourtzi, a beautiful and romantic place

Sleep

Budget

  • Camping Xeni, [2] in a neighbor village Assini. Very hospitable people and near a small beach.

Mid-range

  • Amymone Pension, [3]. Small and cozy family-run pension. Artistically decorated rooms, each inspired by its own flower -- and derives color from it. Daily room cleaning and change of towels. Internet (128kbps) available in suites. Common area on the ground floor -- great for a group of 5-6 people spending time together indoors. Double: €65 (breakfast included).
  • Marianna Pension, [4]. Cozy hotel overlooking the downtown from the mountain, close to one of the fortresses. Roof cafe for breakfast, great view on the town. Be prepared for 5 minutes stair climbing to reach it from the downtown; may be also reached by car from the fortress side. Single: €65, double €75.
  • Rigas Pension, Kapodistriou Str. 8, [5]. A charming place in the center of Nafplio. Its rooms are neat and perfectly clean in old town-house style. It offers any comfort: ensuite bathroom, tv, fridge and air cond. From the second floor you have a nice view above Nafplio. The owner is Greek, speaks English, and is aimed to make your stay as pleasant as possible. doubles start at €50.

Splurge

  • Grande Breatagne Hotel [6] - a very charming and small hotel but excellent service, beautiful view of the port and very good rooms.
  • Nafplia Palace [7] - the best hotel of Nafplio with a magnificent view of the city and the sea. Bangalows with private pools.

Contact

Stay safe

There is almost zero violence or mobbing in the city, except the occassional pick pocket when you relax too much under the sun. Nights are safe, you can walk around with no danger.

Cope

Get out

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