Castles and towers of Serifos
castles and towers of Serifos
The value of the rich iron ore in antiquity and the need to protect the population in the Middle Ages prompted the necessity to build a network of defense consrtuctions on the island.
In the antiquity, locals built several towers, either in the SW area to protect the mining zone, or on the far north coast, to survey the arrival of ennemy ships.
In the Middle Ages, the Venetians built the Castle of Chora, aimed to increase the natural protection that the rock itself and the dense construction of the houses provided to the settlement.
The location of the castle has been inhabited and fortified since the antiquity. There are reports that on the rocky hill there was a well structured city with temples and public buildings.
The medieval Castle of Serifos was created in 1430 by the Venetian family of Mikeli, the masters of the island of that time. In its final form, the Castle had three successive circular walls, incorporating the rocks and the houses themselves, and four gates, from which the west and the north are maintained.
The main scope of the ancient towers was to monitor the large bays of the island's coastline. These towers are usually small-scale individual buildings with circular or rectangular shape and in most cases have visual contact with each other, forming a network of communicating - by fire or signals - observatories. At least 7 towers are known from this network, and it is certain that many others have been incorporated into newer structures such as chapels or farm buildings.
Note that one more ancient tower is preserved in nearby islet of Serifopoula.
A larger fortress is visible on the rough rocky hill overlooking the Koutala Bay. The fort is known as the Grias (old-woman) Castle. Only the necessary walls to cover the less steep slopes were contructed.
One of the most well-preserved specimens of ancient towers of Serifos island is the so-called Aspros Pyrgos (the "White tower", from the glowing white color of its marble walls). The tower was built in the 4th c. BC. between the Koutala and the Mega Livadi districts as a part of a larger fortification structure, including an external wall, water tanks and auxiliary buildings.
Aspros Pyrgos tower is preserved at a height of about 5 m, from an initial height of about 12 m. The main purpose was to control the bays of the area, where ennemy ships could be docked, or slaves escaped. The tower remained in use until the 7th c. AD.
Psaropyrgos tower is a low defensive structure made of long slates measuring 8.4x4.2 m. From its location, it overlooks the access to Mega Livadi bay, as well as the sheltered bays of Dyo Gialoudia, Achladi and Kalogeros. In the language of tourism marketing, the Psaropyrgos tower is also called the Throne of Cyclops, while a nearby cave is associated with Cyclops Polyphemus.
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