Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Great Door of Koroni, Outside & In

This is the iconic Great Door of Koroni, the entrance to the Venetian citadel ("kastro") built on a cliff so many years ago when Koroni was a major port for the transport of olive oil -- as documented in the brilliantly-organized, must-see Museum of Greek Olive and Olive Oil in Sparta. The kastro today contains 3 churches, the town cemetery, and a beautifully serene convent where 6 nuns from Kalamata still live, plus 7 neat private homes. Stairs just beyond the War Memorial along the west wall lead down to Eleistria Church (see previous post).  Like many areas of Greece, Koroni has a long history of invasion and occupation by outsiders -- oft-destructive happenings which do, at least, provide interesting historical footnotes.  While the kastro might now be a fascinating place to visit, there are controversies regarding preservation and upkeep.*

Indeed, my Yiayia Sarris' (nee Kapiniaris, or is it Stamatis?) family homestead is located just to the right of where I am standing in the photo, inside the stone wall and abutting the kastro's front wall -- and I am told that it is illegal to build anything against that wall or do much of any improvements there because of legal archaeological issues.  That remains to be seen...

Meanwhile, the southward Gate B is a smaller door which allows for a climb down to a basically uninhabited promontory that I had never seen before in my 5 previous visits to Koroni! While looking for postcards in a small "psilagidhiko" (5 & 10) this past November, I spotted a card with an aerial-view of this very strange-looking place. When I exclaimed "What is that?" to the proprietor, she laughed. The next morning, I went there to see for myself -- and you, too, should visit beautiful, historical and easily-accessible Koroni.

View from Gate B
* On November 25th a fire ravaged the historic church adjoining the cemetery. St. Haralambos Church was established by the Venetians in 1689 first as the Catholic Church of San Rocco.  Later under the Turkish occupation (approximately 1728-1828), it became a minaret. When Koroni was liberated, it became an Eastern Orthodox church. (from Koroni newspaper "I Dhrasi" 12-12, Vol. 77)                                                                                          

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