Perched on a hilltop with a 360-degree view of the Pieria region and the Aegean Sea, sits the Castle of Platamon, a medieval fortress that dates back to the 13th century. The castle was built by Crusaders to guard the exit of the Tempe valley – the only passage connecting Macedonia with Thessaly and the rest of Greece. Throughout its rich history, many groups fought to secure this strategic castle. From Crusaders, to Byzantine aristocracy, to Turkish occupation, this significant castle played a crucial part in the history of Pieria.
Visitors can enter the castle’s grounds via a 13th century archway, which takes them right into the inner yards of the fortress. The imposing character of the Platamon Castle is complemented by its recent maintenance and restoration and its impressive view of the Aegean Sea. This Olympian landmark is open everyday for travellers to visit and explore. Throughout the summer season, theatrical performances and concerts take place on the castle’s grounds as part of the Olympus Festival.
History of the Platamon Castle
The site occupied by the Platamon Castle originally belonged to the ancient city of Heraklion in pre-Christian times. This ancient settlement spanned across the grounds of the castle and continued all the way down to the foot of the hill. Following the fall of Constantinople during the 4th Crusade in 1204, Lombardian Crusaders took over the land and built a castle on top of the remains of the old structure. The castle functioned as a strategic lookout point over the passage between Macedonia and southern Greece. Despite their efforts to retain control of the castle, it wasn’t long before the Byzantines took it over again. In 1218, the Komnenos, a Byzantine noble family, established dominion over the castle.
During the 14th century, the Turks captured the castle to secure this strategic observation point between Macedonia and the rest of Greece. Venetians celebrated brief sovereignty over the castle between the years 1425 and 1427 before admitting defeat to the Turks who maintained power again over the castle until the beginning of the 20th century. The last historical event to occur on the castle’s grounds took place during World War II, where a group of New Zealanders used the castle to stop the passage of the Nazis to Thessaly. The soldiers were ultimately left to retreat due to bombardment by the Germans.
Location and Design of the Platamon Castle
The Castle of Platamon played such a crucial part in the history of Pieria due to its strategic position overlooking the exit of the Tempe valley, the main passageway connecting Macedonia with Thessaly. The castle’s tall watchtowers allowed them to look over the northern Aegean Sea for pirates or other unexpected attacks.
The layout of the Platamon Castle resembled most Medieval fortresses of its period. The outer wall of the fortress has a polygonal shape, supported by towers positioned at irregular intervals for protecting the grounds and overlooking the surrounding area. The entrance to the castle is located on the southeast side and can be accessed by foot via a pathway connecting the parking lot to the gate of the castle. The height of the castle walls reach 9.5 meters to the right of the entrance and 7.5 meters on the left, while the thickness varies between 1.2 and 2 meters wide. Over the years, the walls continued to increase and the separating sections of the buildings can still be observed today. Most walls have been well preserved and are accessible for visitors to explore and observe the view of the surrounding land and water.
The central tower of the defense complex is found on the northeast side of the fortress. This octagonal shaped tower stands tall at 16 meters high and 2 meters thick. Its entrance was placed at a height of 3.45 meters from the ground for security reasons and can be entered from a wooden staircase. The Castle of Platamon housed several houses, churches, a smithy, pottery and many other buildings that have been preserved throughout the centuries. Visitors can also admire relatively well preserved cannons that date back to the Middle Ages, which were once used to protect the castle from pirates. Furthermore, the fortress was well equipped with several cisterns for providing an adequate amount of water supply. Initially the fortress was surrounded by a secondary, lower wall that served as extra defense in case of emergency attacks. The only undamaged building is the small church, Agia Paraskevi, which can hold up to 30 believers inside.
November 1st – April 31th
Monday to Sunday: 8:00 to 15:00
May 1st – October 31st
Monday to Sunday: 8:00 to 20:00
Full admission: 3€, Reduced admission: 2€ Children: free