Acropolis of Kastritsa

Sites & Monuments Acropolis of Kastritsa

On the southern shore of Lake Pamvotida, at the end of the 4th/beginning of the 3rd century BC, on the top of the hill of Kastritsa, at an altitude of 757m, an acropolis was established across the hill of the acropolis of Megalo Gardiki, which flourished during the period of the Epirote League (233/31 BC – 168/167 BC). On the western side of the hill there is the homonymus Palaeolithic cave (22,000-9,000 BC), and on the edges of the hill human activity during the Neolithic (5,500-3,200 BC) and the Bronze ages (1,600- 1,100 BC) was evidenced. In a hub and fortress position, the acropolis in the northern and central part of the top of the rocky hill offered full surveillance of a large part of the Ioannina basin, as it controlled passages and roads to Thesprotia, Thessaly and Macedonia. The fortified city is built with a NS orientation at a length of 1,580m and a maximum width of 350m. The building remains that are preserved at a low height are mainly from the Hellenistic period and have later additions.

Τhe fortification

The sturdy wall combines the isodomic, pseudo-isodomic and polygonal masonry system, with repairs in later phases. Its length is approximately 3,000m, its average thickness 3.50m and the preserved height ranges from 2.50 to 5.00m. It has 6 gates and surrounds an area of ​​about 345 acres. The need to further strengthen its vulnerable southern part required the addition of a spear-shaped end to the main fortified tower, which lengthens the line of defense of gate I by approximately 24 meters. The discovery of arrows and stone bullets of siege engines found on the wide destruction layer when the tower was revealed, confirms the siege of 167 BC by the Romans.

Τhe settlement

The results of the research that has been carried out on about one fifth of the total area of ​​the fortified settlement, show that during its peak, to the 3rd – 2nd century BC, the settlement was densely populated, with building islands adapted to a rectangular urban plan and to the natural rocky sloping terrain. The large size of the buildings and the quality of the constructions, as well as the fact that even after the 1st century BC, in this area on the acropolis, new spaces are being established, such as a valaneion, indicate the high standard of living of the inhabitants of this area. During the early Christian times up to the 6th century AD, the citadel is sparsely populated.

The Holy Monastery of John the Baptist

The Holy Monastery of John the Baptist was founded during the 11th–12th century AD on a plateau within the ancient fortified enclosure, while the chapel of Saint Athanasios was erected at the beginning of the last century. During the First Balkan War (1912-1913), the hill of Kastritsa is included in the Turkish defense sector of the city of Ioannina, and is fortified with the construction of machine guns, trenches, and barracks facilities (fig. 6).

Promotion works

With the project “Protection and Promotion of the Archaeological Site of Kastritsa, Prefecture of Ioannina” (2011-2015), the site was organized as visitable place, focusing the process on the southern and central part of the acropolis, near three of the gates of the wall. Small-scale modifications were also carried out at the entrance of the Palaeolithic cave (fig. 7).

 Hypatia Faklari

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