The Old Navarino Castle (Παλαιό Ναυαρίνο) is a 13th century Frankish fortress across the bay from the more recent Ottoman fort at Pylos. Between them, they guarded the safe harbour & strategic bay on which they sit.
The castle sits on an imposing 200-metre rock formation on the northern edge of the bay, flanked by sheer cliffs.
It was last used by the Ottomans at the Battle of Navarino in 1827, during the Greek War of Independence (1821-32). This was the last major naval battle in history to be fought entirely with sailing ships. Allied forces from Britain, France, and Russia decisively defeated Ottoman and Egyptian forces trying to suppress the Greeks, thereby effectively enabling Greek independence.
Although there are no physical barriers to access, the castle ruins have been declared “closed” because the structure is considered dangerous. However many intrepid explorers have entered the site, making recognisable footpaths that make navigating the rubble strewn area, with many unexpected drops, possible with care.
As the castle rock is just behind where the van is parked, Bobby and I decided to take a walk beneath the cliff to see Voidokilia Bay, famous for its semi-circular shape and white sands. While there it seemed sensible to see how to access the supposed path up, what looks like from the beach, an almost shear cliff face to the castle so that it could be done another day. Well, by the time we’d climbed the sand dunes at the back of the beach and accessed a path we were half way up, so going the rest of the way up became the only sensible thing to do – well you have to, don’t you?
The steep path turned into steep rock with a wire rope support, that turned into metal loops set into the rockface for hand and foot holds (Bobby needed lifting up these) and finally clambering through the partly fallen wall of the castle.
Certainly a climb, but what a view!
Once up, the extent of the castle became apparent, with some outer wall castlelations and towers still in place, and collapsed lower level vaulted ceilings visible with associated drops.
It’s certainly true that the structure is not safe and great care has to be taken. The exit gateway shows just how much potentially loose stonework there is.
Nevertheless, the castle remains very impressive on its commanding rock and made a great afternoon stroll!