Throughout the scenic island of Santorini you can visit and explore five glorious castles, or their debris, which extend from the upper to the southernmost part of the island. They are among the landmarks of Santorini and offer, apart from an aura of a past era, unique unrivaled views on the volcano and the neighboring islands, thanks to their strategic positions. The castles were built in five major settlements of the island, those of Oia, Imerovigli, Pyrgos, Emporio and Akrotiri.

The purpose of the castles was to protect the inhabitants from the marauding pirate invasions, which during the Byzantine era and the Frankish occupation were frequent at the coasts of the Aegean Sea and the whole Mediterranean. Along with the five Venetian castles, or “Kastelia” as they are called, there were four watchtowers, named “Goulades” (from the Turkish word Kules that means tower), which were used as defensive fortresses and refuges. They were situated inside the castles, like in Oia and Akrotiri or outside of them, like in Fira and Emporio and were high, rectangular, multi-story buildings. The castles and the towers were built, of course, at the highest or the most inaccessible places. In close distance to each of the five castles lies a church dedicated to Agia Theodosia, which is the patron saint of the castles.

Today one can admire the remains of these fortified settlements, the result of a destructive earthquake that hit Santorini in 1956, which within their walls hold the history alive. They are here to remind that they once were of paramount importance and now provide exclusive views in perfect concordance with the natural beauty of the island.

Map of Santorini's castles

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