At the southernmost tip of Messinia, at Cape Akrita, is the cosmopolitan Koroni. One of the most beautiful and well-known coastal towns of the Peloponnese, which is built amphitheatrically on the slope of a hill, where the Venetian fortress dominates. It is no coincidence that the nickname of this small town with a long history is “Princess of the Middle Ages”.
Built amphitheatrically on the western coastline of the Messinian gulf, Koroni, the once famous Castle City of Messinia, is a residential complex of exceptional beauty, with a strong island color.
Like its neighbor Methoni, Koroni experienced a period of prosperity during the Medieval Times, when it developed into a notable commercial and naval center for the Venetians, a regular stop for merchants, pilgrims to the Holy Land and Mediterranean travelers. Often, in fact, these two important Messinian ports were referred to together as “Mothokorona”.
A dominant position in Koroni is occupied by its castle, which was built during Byzantine times (probably in the 6th-7th century) where, according to Pausanias, the city of Asini used to be.
The original Byzantine fortification experienced successive building phases during the First Venetian period (13th-15th century) with the addition of a large enclosure to the east, strong walls and a double semi-circular bastion in the north-east corner, for protection from the sea side.
The castle of Koroni was captured by the Turks in 1500. During the First Ottoman Empire (1500-1685) the fortification of the castle was strengthened on the southeast side with a second line of defense and the addition of two circular bastions at its ends.
The castle was recaptured by the Venetians in 1685 (2nd Venetian Empire), it fell again to the Turks in 1715 (2nd Turkish Empire), and was liberated in 1828 by the French general Nicolas Joseph Mezon.
The Castle of Koroni was built during Byzantine times, on the site where the ancient city of Asini once dominated.
The castle of Koroni can be reached by car, crossing the road that starts from the terrace of Agios Dimitrios.
The castle of Koroni together with its brother, that of Methoni, were “The eyes of Venice” in the Mediterranean, as from the 13th to the 17th century they were ports – “keys” for trade from and to the East.
The castle attracts the eye like a magnet. It’s beautiful!
When you visit it, we advise you to spend a few minutes enjoying the view it offers.
A few words about its history
The Castle experienced various building phases per time period. Initially, it was distinguished in a triangular area and an external fortification to the east. The Byzantine fortress was located at the highest point, where the nunnery is today.
During the 1st Venetian rule, a large precinct was added to the east, strong walls and the double semi-circular bastion were built in the north-east corner, for the purpose of protection from the sea side.
In the First Ottoman period the fortification was strengthened on the south-eastern side with a second line of defence, which was blown up by Morosini in 1685, and the addition of two circular bastions at its ends.
At the end of World War II, the bastion at the northern end of the wall was blown up by the Germans.
Today, few ruins of this particular part of the Castle are preserved. In 1463, at its westernmost edge, the Venetians built a rampart, which experienced successive building phases, with the last being that of the Second Venetian Empire (1685-1715).
Inside the castle are preserved the remains of the three-aisled basilica of Agia Sophia (probably from the 7th century) and the church of Agios Charalambos (the original Catholic church, dedicated to Agios Rocco, was converted into an Ottoman mosque and then, in modern times, into an Orthodox temple). During the additions, ancient building material was used.
Within the walls of the castle is also the monastery of Timi Prodromos, with a wonderful view of the modern town. The monastery was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Archimandrite Theodoulos (Georgio Anagnostopoulos).
At the western end of the Castle there is the old calendar monastery (Monastery of the Holy Forerunner) which was founded at the beginning of the 20th century.