An urge to wander and a favorable wind are enough to bring someone willing to explore new places to Nafpaktos, a traditional small town in the southern part of the prefecture of Aitoloakarnania.
Nafpaktos is built at the west of the Corinthian Gulf. It is one of the oldest Greek cities, which in proven by its old harbour with its fortification, which rises up until the castle to the top of the hill above the city. The town has taken its name from the two ancient words meaning “ship” and “construct”.
Some findings of ancient temples and se several references by classical writers to the town reveal the rich history of Nafpaktos since ancient times. Since 1104 BC when the town was first mentioned by the Dorians till the Byzantine years, it underwent many administrative changes.
An important event in its history was the naval battle of Nafpaktos in 1571, a battle that took place at the mouth of the Patraikos Bay (called Lepanto bay by the Italians). This battle was a very impressive phase during the war for the conquest of Cyprus in 1571. The victory of the Christians against the Turks was a milestone for the history of Europe in general.
The Venetian harbor in the city center is the first landmark that the visitor encounters in the town. You will be enchanted by its character and you will certainly like to spend some time at one of the many restaurants or cafes that surround it.
Looking from the Venetian harbor high up the hill above the city you will get an idea of the castle of Nafpaktos.
This well-preserved castle is your next stop. The best time to visit is in the afternoon hours, well before the sun has set as to have enough time to take a look at the stunning view and then sit in the Cafe Castle or Castello Cafe to enjoy the sunset as the city gets its mellow yellow and orange colors and lights decorate.
Perhaps the best way to get to the Venetian Castle is by taxi, because you will have the chance to climb down the hill on foot and admire the traditional houses built inside the castle and walk to the cobbled cobblestone streets of the city.
Reaching the city center and the harbor again, as the dark has begun to fall, there is a chance that you will not recognize the spot. The port will be packed with people of all ages and you may find it hard to find somewhere to sit for a cup of coffee, drink or beer. Aroma Cafe and other nearby cafeterias are favourite with locals and visitors. Do not despair. The view of the illuminated harbor, the flashing light at the entrance of the harbour and the jubilant people will amaze you again.
To the left and right of the harbor, within walking distance, there are two beaches, Psani and Grimbovo, which provide even more food and drink options. For the biggest part of the summer, the streets in front of these two beaches are pedestrianized, traffic is forbidden, and visitors enjoy their walk under the huge plane trees.
From these two beaches you have a stunning view of the Rio-Antirion Bridge, which is illuminated every Saturday night.
Other city attractions include:
- The old mansion house of the Botsari family that houses an interesting private collection.
- The Pharmakis Museum with exhibits from the War of 1821 for the liberation of Greece from the Turks.
- The Town Clock which dominates the city.
- The Papacharalampios Public Library of the Municipality of Nafpaktos.
Do not forget to buy a jar or two of Karydaki (Walnut sweet in a jar ), a traditional delicacy of the area and a delightful memory for the locals from their childhood.
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by Vasilis Geo Kyritsis