Bourtzi Nafplio and History

Bourtzi Nafplio is the small islet in front of the port of Nafplio, opposite the “Five-Brothers” cannon.

The Venetians erected in 1473 after the departure of Mahmut Pasha supplying it with newer cannons. They built, Bourtzi or “Kastelli” or “thalassopyrgos” on the island of Agios Theodoros and was the first prison of Th. Kolokotronis. Additionally, for two times has hosted the Greek government.

Design of Bourtzi Nafplio

The Italian engineer Gaipello built the much-photographed Bourtzi. Its first name was Castello dello Soglio.

The shape of the islet gave the design of the fortress. The center of the fortress is occupied by a tower in the shape of an irregular hexagon. There are cannons on either side at a lower level of the tower.

Internally, the tower has three floors and the communication between the floors was done with escalators for security reasons. A large circular tank located in the basement of the tower covered the need for water.

The entrances were north and south. A small cove had been formed to the northeast, for the safest access to the fortress.

The history of Bourtzi Nafplio

Between the sea fortress and the port there was a narrow passage. A chain closed this passage for the security of the port from enemy ships. This was the reason that the Venetian named Nafplio Porto Cadena (Port of the Chain).

On the contrary, the name Bourtzi, which has prevailed to be called the island and the fortress means in Turkish “island-fortress”. After the treaty of Karlovic (1698) the Venetians erected on the island a very strong tower and bastions with cannons.

Thalassopyrgos or “Kastelli” according to the Venetians and “Bourtzi” according to the Turks was occupied, in 1822, by 50 gunmen and 150 gunners. They were led by the French Major F. Gurden, who was shelling Nafplio from Thalassopyrgos and managed to cancel the “secret” food of the besieged Turks by an English ship.

In the immediately following decade, during the bloody Greek civil wars (1823 – 1833), the government was twice forced to take refuge in Thalassopyrgos for its security, on May 25, 1824 and July 2, 1827.

Bourtzi, prison and place of execution

After the arrival of King George I, and by his order, he disarmed Thalassopyrgos in 1865 and became the residence of the executioner of the guillotine. The residents of Nafplio hated the executioners. Due to the outcry, they were not allowed to leave Bourtzi except during the executions and with the forced escort of police officers.

Bourtzi, The hotel

However, years after, Thalassopyrgos became the first notable tourist centers of First Category in Greece. With only 12 rooms and a restaurant with special mention was among the best international travel guides of the time. It operated continuously from the 1930s to the 1970s.


Bourtzi is currently partially accessible due to restoration. A showroom and a shop on the bastions will soon . The restaurant room will reopen giving us unique experiences.

Patience and we will enjoy it completely.

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