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Acrocorinth


Acrocorinth fortress Peloponnese Greece Europe by Galina Mikhalishina , Shutterstock
It's worth the uphill hike to see the castle ruins and stunning views of Acrocorinth © Galina Mikhalishina, Shutterstock

Drink in the majestic views from the monolithic rock of Acrocorinth.

Despite its spectacular position and looming presence many people give Acrocorinth a miss. This is partly because, without your own car, it is only reachable by taxi or an hour-long uphill walk. On top of this it is an extremely large site – water, good shoes and a sun hat are a must. It is worth every effort, however, with its extensive castle ruins and astounding views.

The site is reached by following the road up past the entrance to the ancient city. On your way up you will see the small castle of Pendeskoufi on a nearby peak. It was built by the Franks during their siege of Acrocorinth in the 13th century.

The road ends in a small car park by a modern café, below the imposing walls and gateways of the castle itself. Crossing a dry moat you come to the first of three gateways; a triple fortification whose history mirrors that of the various owners of the castle. The first gateway is mostly Turkish in origin, while the second is a Venetian restoration of an originally Frankish structure. The third, and perhaps most impressive, gateway is mainly Byzantine, but look closely at the large stones in the tower to the right; these probably date back to the 4th century BC.

Inside the castle most of the ruined buildings are Turkish, including a mosque with most of its dome still intact. Three paths snake away from the entrance, although they all end up in the same place. If you are in a hurry the path to the right is the quickest. Almost opposite the gateways, close to the eastern walls of the castle, the main path splits into three again. The path to the right leads to the southern walls and a Frankish tower that you can scramble around for views into the mountains beyond Corinth. The central path leads around to the left, skirting the walls, before it reaches the upper Fountain of Peirene; look out for fencing around a concrete roof that covers the underground spring. This is where the winged horse, Pegasus, liked to come to drink. Metal steps lead down to stone steps that descend into a twin-arched pool with eerily blue water (not drinkable). The spring has never been known to run dry, a fact the local flies take full advantage of. The path that continues past the spring soon peters out.

The third path goes off to the left, climbing through the centre of the castle to the higher of its two peaks (575m), close to the northern walls. This was the site of the Temple of Aphrodite, although all trace of this has now gone. In ancient times the goddess of love was worshipped with religious prostitution provided by 1,000 sacred courtesans. Visitors nowadays have to make do with the view. This is no hardship, as even on a hazy day it is impressive; on a clear day you can see from the Acropolis in Athens on the right, to the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth on the left.

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