• Impressive view from atop the castle
• Built in the early 12th century A.D.
• The largest fortress in the Aegean, spanning some 144 acres
• Has a polygonal plan (frontline walls) due to the rugged terrain
• Today you will see a species of deer particular to Myrina and Limnos, that dwell in the castle and its surroundings
The castle sits atop a rocky peninsula, occupying the southwestern part of Myrina, and provides breathtaking views of the open Aegean Sea. To the east is the downtown area, the city’s picturesque harbor and the two beaches Romeiko and Tourkiko. To the north lies the hill of Ag. Athanasios and its chapel, and to the south you can faintly see the island of Ag. Efstratios. To the northwest, and only at dusk, you can see Athos. The castle of Myrina was built in the early 12th century A.D. by Andronikos Komnenos (Byzantine) over the ruins of the ancient Pelasgian walls. During the Venetian rule of the island, the castle underwent some repairs and was expanded (1207 and 1214) to its current size.
The castle of Myrina has a polygonal ground plan, as dictated by the rugged and uneven terrain. It covers an area of 144 acres, and its highest point reaches 120 meters from sea level. The massive walls were purposely built to sustain heavy bombardment from cannons and other firepower. It remained the sturdiest and most durable fortress on the island for quite a long time; its walls were 3 levels thick, it had 150 cannons, 14 towers and a deep moat. Key features of the castle were the 20 or so “katachystres” or small openings in the wall, used to empty the ramparts and other vulnerable spots around the castle. However, they were also used to pour scalding water, oil, molten lead or burning resin onto enemy besiegers trying to penetrate the walls.
Along the outside of the eastern fortification (facing the harbor), you’ll see “vrachografimata”, or engravings into the stone, mainly depicting boats. Up until 1982, across from the main gate, the crest of Gatelouso appeared, and a marble relief of a lion (which was the symbol of strength and power to the conquering Venetians) was uncovered, and now is on display in Myrina’s archeological museum.
The Ottomans, during their occupation of the island and Greece, used the fortress for defenses as well, especially during the Orlov Uprising of 1770. Inside they erected a mosque and a smaller fortification called “Dabia” on the hill “Tsa”. The mosque still stands to this very day. There are also remains of ancillary buildings (barracks, storage rooms, gunpowder kegs, headquarters) used by the masters during those times. Today, however, the guards of the castle are about 150 delightful deer….descendants of a mating pair from Rhodes in 1970….they will welcome you as you enter the castle gates!