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Greece » Cyclades islands » Folegandros island » Folegandros Sightseeing » The Castle at Chora
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The Castle at Chora

In fact the so-called “castle” of the town of Folegandros is nothing more than the old part of Chora. It is a well-preserved medieval settlement which, as most of the settlements of this kind, had been arranged in such a way to protect the population of the island and their goods from the invasions of enemies and pirates. Once constructed, the place is continually inhabited ever since. The northern part of the castle has been constructed at the rim of a steep drop more than 200 meters high. The castle was established by Marco Sanudo, the duke of Naxos in 1212, shortly after he had taken possession of the island. Castles similar to that of Folegandros are also found in Sifnos and Antiparos. In fact there are the walls of the houses looking to the outer part that form the castle and serve to protect the whole settlement.

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Inside the castle there are several old churches with interesting architectural features and nice decoration in the interior. The most important of them are the churches of Pantanassa, of Eleoussa and of Aghia Sofia. From the precinct of the church of Pantanassa you will have a breathtaking view of the island and the open sea.

During the hard days of the attacks of pirates or of Ottomans, the castle housed some 200 large families whose members worked all day long in the fields around. By the evening, following the ring of a bell they returned home, within the castle, while the “Loggia”, the main entrance, was locked up to protect the residents.

The older houses of the Castle, the “monospita” as the locals call them, are small buildings with only one room and several exterior features, as wide steps which also serve to sit on them, stone benches and tiny yards. Due to the lack of wood and particularly of long logs, the width of the room was only some three meters, whereas their length reached the nine meters. The floor of the house was either paved with the local green schist slabs, or just earth carefully rammed. The roof was also covered by the same slabs which were successively “plastered” with seaweeds mixed with earth. The unique room housed the whole family, usually of 6-8 people. There was a fireplace for heat and cooking and a niche where they kept all the necessary household equipment. Of course, there were also bigger houses, belonging to more wealthy families, mainly of merchants who worked in Istanbul or in Egypt. Some of these houses were constructed out of the Castle.

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Most of the houses are continuously inhabited since at least 10 centuries and their owners keep them in excellent condition. Once at the Castle you will have the chance to see, both the older and the most beautiful buildings of the island. The Castle has been listed as Monument with conservation status and is protected by the 21 st Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities of the Archaeological Service of Greece.

Access to the Castle is very easy, as it makes part of the traditional settlement of the town of Folegandros (Chora). Access is possible only on foot, as cars are not allowed within Chora.
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