The city of Náfplio took its name from its founder, Náfplio, who lived in ancient Greece during the Homeric times. Náfplios was the son of god Poseidon and an extremely handsome man, so much so that no woman could resist him. Which was why, the kings of that era used him to get rid of certain women that were …unwanted to the royal court. However, Náfplios was a good lad and did not complete his missions (i.e. did not kill the women). Instead, he helped them escape. Up until King Katréas of Crete gave the order to Náfplio to take away and kill is 2 daughters, Aerópi and Klyméni. Náfplios fell in love with Klyméni, married her and ever since stopped helping other women escape – instead he lived as a family man, with 3 sons, in his town Nafplía.
One of his sons was Palamídis, the founder of dice (and still, no casino in the world has been named Palamídi). Palamídis was among the first to take the side of Menélaos, when Helen of Troy left with Príamos, and helped him gain allies and raise arms all over Greece. Odysséas, King of Ithaca, did not initially want to go to war against Troy, however clever Palamídis tricked him and was forced to say yes. Odysséas, of course, never forgot this trick (any serious soap opera in the world would never leave an insult unavenged) and managed, with treachery, to incriminate Palamídis before the Trojan expedition ended and have him executed. His father Náfplios, obviously not yet familiar with the “turn the other cheek” way of life, went back to his old ways and started seducing the wives of the Greek kings participating in the Trojan War, one after the other. And he felt that wasn’t enough, he lit fires on Kávo Dóro, the SE tip of Évvoia, when the Greek ships were returning from Troy. As a result, many of them thought they reached a harbour and crashed on the rocks.
Náfplio city is continuously inhabited since the prehistoric years. Remains of a settlement and a castle belonging to Phoenicians and Egyptians, were found on the hill of Akronafplía. Up until the 7th century BC., Náfplio was an autonomous city, when it was conquered by Árgos and ever since became its haven. The Byzantines (took their time but eventually) understood the strategic and commercial value of Náfplio and between the 8th and 10th centuries AD, they fortified it with walls and a castle in Akronafplía. Unfortunately, other made the same realization which is why for the next 800 years, Náfplio changed owners constantly.
The Franks, with Geoffrey Villehardouin as their leader, conquered Náfplio in 1212 AD and kept it up until 1389 when, the last Lady of Náfplio Maria D’ Engen, tired from defending against the turkish raids, sold the city to the Venetians. They, in turn, did what they knew best: they enhanced the city’s defenses and Náfplio managed to resist the half moon successfully up until 1540 – the city fell after a siege of 3 years and 3 months!
The Turks kept Náfplio for 150 years, up until 1686, when the Venetians lead by Francisco Morozini return and take the castle with extreme speed. This time the Venetians decide to make Náfplio impregnable. They brought their top mechanics La Salle and Giaxich, built the second castle Palamídi on the neighbouring hill, on 215m height and cliffs all around it, 7 bastions filled with canons, loopholes and ramparts everywhere. The design of Palamídi was such that did not allow attack from any direction – at the time it was characterized as the most impregnable castle in the world!
The only attack that Palamídi castle was not designed to repel was treason! In 1715, just one year after the completion of the works, La Salle gave all the designs of the castles to the Turks and at the same time rendered useless the canons of Palamídi.
In 1821, with the beginning of the Hellenic Wars of Independence, the siege of Náfplio by the Greeks begins. One year later, the beginning of 1822, the Turks surrender and the distribution of the spoils begins. However, the people of Ýdra argue with the rest of the Greeks over their share of the goods and in response they get up and leave! The Turks, seize the opportunity, kick the few Greeks left out, fill their warehouses with supplies and close themselves back in! So, siege again, this time up until the end of 1822 when finally, heroism won over closed mindedness. Stáikos Staikópoulos, a hero with 300 men, on a night without moon does the unthinkable and climbs the walls of Palamídi, enters the castle and takes it in one night. The next morning, they turned the canons towards the (lower) castle of Akronafplía and send a message to the Turks: leave immediately or we open fire.
From here on, Náfplio was the stage were some of the most shameful pages of the Hellenic history were written, reminding us that the traitor, the disreputable and the villain frequent close to the hero. In this way, the sun of the hero covers the stench of the villain. Here in Náfplio, the great general Theódoros Kolokotrónis was imprisoned and sentenced to death (thankfully, it was not carried out, otherwise I would be writing in Turkish), here the first Prime Minister of the new Hellas was assassinated on Sunday, 27 of September 1831. Here also, at the end of 1823, started the civil war between the Greeks, which almost cost them everything they had done up until then.