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To the Venetian castle, Kefalonia

Home -> Europe -> Greece -> Travelogue Greece -> 04 July 2018

Wednesday 04 July, to the Venetian castle, Kefalonia

Fried eggs with bacon and fries, Mazarakata Entrance to the Venetian castle St. George, KefaloniaToday we are going to the Venetian castle St. George at Peratata. But before we go inside, we first eat a late breakfast on the terrace where we were sitting a few days ago. The fried and scrambled eggs were so delicious that we order them again today, it reminds us of the breakfasts we always have in Scotland. The owner clearly enjoys it when we tell him that we are coming here because of that.
And then we climb the road to the castle where the entrance is free.
At the Venetian castle St. George, Kefalonia View of Argostoli from the Venetian castle St. GeorgeIn the 12th century, the Byzantines built a first castle here, but the Venetians made it into a real fort in 1504, a polygonal walled area of 16,000 m². Until 1757 it was in fact the capital of Kefalonia after which Argostoli took over that function.
The castle stands on a 320 meter high hill in a large plain south of the Ainos mountain range and thus offers a good strategic overview over a large part of the island. And the views are really spectacular.
Pretty steep, the Venetian castle St. George The Venetian castle St. George, KefaloniaThere is not much left of the castle nowadays and that is not only caused by wars and neglect through the course of time, but also because of the earthquakes that regularly occur here. Because it is a large area, we walk around for a long time but there is not much to see. Some of the walls remain, but in the middle area we only see remnants of buildings. It is hard to imagine that this was a real city full of public buildings, a prison and a hospital, churches and houses. We read that at some time there were about 15,000 inhabitants, bigger than any city at the moment on Kefalonia.
Kefalonia currently has far fewer inhabitants than before, because after the earthquake of 1953 so many houses were destroyed that many residents moved to the mainland or abroad. Now around 35,000 people live on the island.
View from the Venetian castle St. George, Kefalonia The Venetian castle St. George, KefaloniaOf all the buildings there is actually only something left of the Evagelistria church, more than just the foundations. And the impressive entrance gate has also been restored. It is thought that there is still a hidden tunnel from the castle to Argostoli, but it has never been found. We walk around for an hour and a half, but then we have seen it all. The best reason to come here is for the view and in the distance we can even see Zakynthos, about 40 kilometers away.
Museum at the Monastery of Agios Andreas of Malapidia Museum at the Monastery of Agios Andreas of MalapidiaIn the plain, not far from the castle, is the beautiful 13th century Milapidia monastery, dedicated to the Apostle Andrew, in which a church museum is housed. Although it is a women's monastery, there are mainly male attendants in the museum. The monastery has largely been spared during the powerful earthquake of 1953 and there are still rare 16th century murals to be seen.
In the museum you can see icons and other ecclesiastical relics of the entire island. The current nuns are still making icons. We are allowed to photograph everything but without a flash. The icon on the left was made in the 17th century and shows the head of John the Baptist, but there are also icons where the beheading is shown to be less subtle and full of blood. To the right the Virgin Mary and Jesus who has a very dark skin color here. this icon also comes from the 17th century.
Museum at the Monastery of Agios Andreas of Malapidia Museum at the Monastery of Agios Andreas of MalapidiaIn addition to icons, there are also a number of paintings of church officials and objects that were used in the churches, such as the clothing of bishops. It is a well-organized museum and information boards are placed near every itme. Next to the museum is the old church that is opened especially for us. A metal box would contain a relic, part of the foot of the apostle Andreas, taken by the Greek-Romanian princess Roxanna in 1639. Fascination for the past I understand, but to worship a part of a foot, no I can not see the reason for that.
Clock tower Agios Andreas, Kefalonia Bells at the monastery of Agios AndreasThe church is still partly original and one of the few in Greece where the bell tower is really built attached to the church. Usually they are separate and we have heard or read on our first trip that this has something to do with the earthquakes that occur regularly. But we do not know the exact reasons anymore. Perhaps a freestanding clock tower shakes back and forth faster so that the bells strike the alarm when the earth shakes.
A few more clocks are located further from the church, together with a number of graves. It is a peaceful place in a beautiful setting, well worth a visit.
Chapel along the road, Metaxata Wood carving in Metaxata, KefaloniaWe drive back through Metaxata where we see a chapel at a crossroads. Sometimes it is not clear to us what such a chapel is for, it seems that some are real churches where services are sometimes held, but this seems really too small for that. There is some writing in Greek and the year 1967 but my knowledge of the language is not enough to understand it. In a garden opposite the chapel, we see a piece of art, the face and upper body of a woman cut from wood.
Teije practices his Greek language skillsAfter all this culture it's beach time and I can practice my Greek again. Our neighbor on the beach needs a light and soon we are in conversation. He tells me that he is retired, comes from Crete but the family of his wife has a house here where they often spend the summer because there are less tourists here than in Crete. He is curious where we have been in Greece and where we will go next. When I say that we are going back to the region around Pyrgos he warns us: that is notorious for the stealing gypsies (Roma he calls them) that the police do nothing about. He is not surprised when I tell him about the bag that was stolen from our car, and certainly not about the treatment by the police. He confirms what we already thought: they want to radiate authority and think to do so by being authoritarian.
We are of course also talking about the Greek crisis and he is happy that he is finally retired, although there has been a lot of cutbacks in recent years. And, contrary to what many people in the West think, the retirement age is just 65 years (60 for women), only civil servants have all kinds of schemes that allow them to stop earlier.
I like to get to know the country and the people a bit better than just from the news. The situation is much less straightforward than we often think and it is clear that especially individuals and non-civil servants are the victims of all the measures that the EU and the IMF impose on Greece.
We go to Argostoli in the evening for a while and then spend our last evening on Kefalonia quietly at our apartment.


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