Acrocorinth is a fortified area and the most important defensive work of Corinth from antiquity to modern times. Its strong fortifications were built in the Mycenaean times and the Castle of Acrocorinth has always been impregnable. It is built at a 574 meters altitude and it is the largest castle in Greece and one of the largest in Europe.
Nowadays the entrance is from the west, but in ancient times the entrance was from the northwest side. Inside the walls there was the temple of Aphrodite, where the priestesses of the goddess practiced sacred prostitution. Acrocorinth was the Acropolis of Corinth and its name comes from “Άκρο” (“Acro” meaning Edge) and “Κόρινθος” (“Korinthos” meaning Corinth). On the left and right of the first gate you can see parts of the wall of the classical period of antiquity and just above them the Byzantine additions by the Franks, the Venetians and the Turks.
The first gate (like the other two) is a typical Frankish sample of fortress architecture. The second gate is not an entirely Frankish construction, but a further development of the Byzantine gate of the 9th - 10th century AD. All three gates are surrounded by three lines of powerful walls. The walls include towers, battlements and cannons and they are approximately 2 meters thick. Inside the wall there are the ruins of the temple of Aphrodite, a Mosque of the 16th century, a minaret, a Byzantine cistern (which probably was the Byzantine Cathedral that the Venetians destroyed and made into a cistern), Villehardouins Tower, the underground Ano Peirene Fountain (also known as “Dragonera” by the locals) and the well-preserved east part of the walls. The Temple of Aphrodite is located at the highest point of Acrocorinth and offers a spectacular view to Kitheronas, Ziria, Panachaikon, mainland Greece, the plain of Argos, the Corinthian Gulf, the Saronic Gulf and even the Acropolis of Athens (if the weather allows it).
In 1208, the Lord of the Castle was Leo Sgouros who had won versus the Frank invaders. Days after the victory, the food supplies ran low. Sgouros, abandoned by everyone, tied the eyes of his horse and fell from the cliff as he did not want to surrender. The next ruler of the castle was Michael A’, the Despot of Epirus, who gave the castle to his nephew, Theodore. After a five year siege Theodore agreed to give the castle to William Villehardouin, who ultimately conquered the entire Peloponnese. In the 14th century, the Acrocorinth sheltered the entire population of Corinth and the town was abandoned for three centuries.
In 1395, the castle was sold by the Florentine banker Nerio Tocco to Theodore Palaeologus. Theodore was afraid of the Turks so he sold the castle to the Knights of Malta in 1397. The Knights gave it back to him in 1404. In 1458 Muhammad II occupied the castle and in 1687 the Venetians took over. In 1715 it was occupied by the Turks who destroyed the monuments of Ancient Corinth and built the Serai (palace) of the Turkish governor there. The most famous of the governors, Kiamil-Bey, is also the last Turkish governor of Corinth. On January 14th, 1822 Theodoros Kolokotronis liberated Acrocorinth.
The view from Acrocorinth is breathtaking. You can see the city of Corinth and the temple of St. Paul, the port and its fishing boats, the lovely Kalamia Beach with its many restaurants, cafes and clubs, Ancient Corinth, the artificial Lecheon port and Kechries village with its blue and crystal clear sea.