There are many photos and adventures I’d love to share, but have been so behind in keeping up with them all in writing. I have some photos that I think are pretty nice from a short weekend trip to Ancient Corinth (but then, the scenery of Greece and a camera can make anyone look like a good photographer).
My first time in Ancient Corinth was by accident. We had traveled up toward Corinth from Nea Ionia back in November of 2017. We had planned on going through the modern city of Corinth, and then exploring the coast further beyond. But on our way back, we realized that the ancient city of Corinth was just a couple of kilometres away, and so we decided to take a detour and check it out.
For me, it was an amazing experience to see the area that the Apostle Paul had likely walked, and I was determined that I’d return to this place someday when more time could be spent. The other thing I noticed was the walls of the fortress high above the ancient city on what appeared to be a mountain top, and of course my intrigue about what was up there was also piqued.
A little more than two years later, there was an opportunity to return to Ancient Corinth and of course, a determination to learn more about the fortress like structure that could be seen high above.
Acrocorinth Built On A Rock
From Ancient Corinth, you cannot make out details of this ancient building that was actually built on what is called a “monolithic rock.” You could call it a mountain but in fact, it’s a massive rock and the top of it can only be approached from the west side. The other sides of this rock are sheer which gave the Acrocorinth a great deal of protection from invaders.
The photo above, taken from the ruins of Ancient Corinth had a zoom lens setting of 105 mm – which might give you an idea of how it is actually seen from the old city, below, and on the eastern side of the rock. In order to reach the gates of the fortress, we had to travel up and around to the other side of the rock – and doing this gives while considering what the inhabitants of this place used to do in order to obtain food and supplies, or what invaders went through in order to try to reach the fortress gives one a deeper sense of awe.
The top of the rock towers over the surrounding plains and the shores of the Corinthian Gulf at about 575 metres (almost 2,000 feet) above sea level. That’s quite the climb if you want to invade, up a very steep grade. One can also imagine what it took to build the place!
Acrocorinth – A Fortress For More Than Several Centuries
As you approach the fortress, it’s hard to miss the defensive walls that were built to strategically give whoever was within the walls of Acrocorinth, a major advantage:
As far as my understanding goes, the three lines of defensive walls were built by the Franks who controlled the fortress for about two centuries after 1210. It is noteworthy that it took Otto de la Roche and Geoffroy I Villehardouin, the Frankish leaders, five years to take control! For five years, the fortress was besieged by the Franks before they were able to defeat its defenders.
The Franks apparently held the fortress on the rock until about 1458 when it was captured by the Ottomans. One can only imagine the battles that took place as the Ottomans had to march up the steep incline and cross the first wall, surrounded by a moat before being met with further lines of defense.
The Grand Entrance
Once you walk past the three defensive walls and marveling at the labour and engineering it must have taken to build them, you approach the grand main entrance of Acrocorinth. This is no easy feat in itself, with a fairly steep slope to walk up on stones and rocks that were used to create a wide walkway on approach. In fact, I couldn’t see myself being able to do it on a rainy day as it would be almost impossible to keep your balance while walking up on what would be a very slippery surface. And even though it was dry, I found it easier to walk up a large part of it, while walking along the wall on one side of the walkway just so that I could hold on to something.
Descending out of the fortress, it seemed even more prudent to walk along the side as you can see from this photo – those leaving were doing just that:
This wider angle view that includes the entrance shows that once inside the main walls, there were ancient structures built at a higher elevation even than the entrance way:
The Views From Inside Acrocorinth
Yes, once your inside the main entrance, and if you want to explore more fully, you’re not done with still going higher. Of course, you don’t need to go much higher for incredible views of the surrounding area – after you go through the main gates, you can turn around and look back over the western and northerly plains with the incredible sights that will behold your eyes. As I started out in those directions, I couldn’t help but think what it was like a couple of thousand years ago – seeing pretty much the same thing as those ancients did, with perhaps a somewhat changed coast line of the Corinthian Gulf. Truly, standing at such an elevation with such a sheer drop below you and views that include all the way to sea level, are just stunning:
We arrived in the afternoon on a very sunny day (although with a cool wind blowing). You could actually plan on visiting Acrocorinth and bring a picnic lunch and spend the whole day exploring and enjoying everything the place has to offer. Even with the two or so hours I spent inside, I did not get to walk around the entire interior of the place. I did however, get to see some interesting things.
And as mentioned, once you’ve entered the main gate, you still have some walking upwards to do – some of it like this up ancient old stone stairs:
It’s honestly worth going up those stairs as well, where you end up (if memory serves correct) in a bit of a grassy area, and a round tower built by the Franks. I watched as a couple of young people walked through the doorway of the tower and went up the stairs. When I looked through the door myself, I wasn’t sure if I could easily fit my body through the narrow stairwell that led to the top, and besides, there were more things to see before I had to leave.
I continued to explore the areas below the highest altitudes and noted several old stone buildings – most of which I am not entirely sure what they were or how to identify them. This one however I do believe was a very old Orthodox Church that was later turned into a Mosque when the Ottomans took control. The setting in which the stone building stood however, was beautiful:
Did I mention that some of the views were spectacular? A good distance away from the wall perimeter, while viewing a couple of the old buildings, you can see the Corinthian Gulf in the distance:
I took a lot of photos when at Acrocorinth, and I could post many more but we’ll stop at this one for now. When I was there, trees and flowers were all in bloom everywhere, which added so much more beauty to the place! And with that in mind, when I have time to return and spend more time in this amazing place, I hope it’s when the flowers are blooming again.
Perhaps one or all of my sons would join me when it happens that I return so I can share with them the amazing and spectacular views while thinking about just how ancient much of this place is, and what it must have been like to build it, repair it, and add reinforcements to it over the years, and centuries ago.
All images and text copyright © 2020 Ian Hugh Scott