Exploring the Rich History of Nerantzia Castle, Kos

When you step onto the picturesque island of Kos in Greece, you are greeted by an abundance of historical and architectural treasures. Among these, Nerantzia Castle stands tall as a testament to the island’s storied past.

Also known as the Castle of the Knights, Nerantzia Castle, stands proudly at the entrance of Kos Town. Furthermore, this impressive castle has a history that spans over a millennium, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs and curious travelers alike.

Exploring The Rich History Of Nerantzia Castle with Sunset Footsteps

As you walk through its stone lined courtyards and take in panoramic views from its towers, you’ll be transported back in time. This medieval fortress is not just a relic of the past but a living testament to the island’s intriguing history. 

A Glimpse into the Past

Nerantzia Castle, was built by the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem in the 14th century.

The impressive Castle owes its name due to, the Seville Orange trees (neratzia) that were planted all over Kos Island by the Knights. As a result, the affectionate nickname has stuck to this day. Nowadays, the Castle is among the highlights of the island’s medieval history and a popular sightseeing spot.

Building work started in 1436 and was completed in 1514. The castle was constructed with local stone and with the remains of previous constructions and buildings. What’s more it still shows a number of blazons on the masonry, some columns, bases, and architraves from the ruins of the old city. Nerantzia Castle was built during the occupation of the Knights, which lasted for over two hundred years.

These knights, who played a significant role in the medieval history of the Mediterranean, constructed the castle as part of a network of fortifications to protect the island from potential invaders. The castle was strategically positioned specifically to guard the harbor and the town, ensuring the safety of its inhabitants.

Architectural Marvel

One of the most striking features of Nerantzia Castle is its imposing walls and towers. The castle’s architecture showcases a blend of Gothic and medieval elements. So, reflecting the influences of the various cultures that ruled Kos over the centuries. Furthermore, the castle’s sturdy walls, moat, and drawbridge offer a glimpse into the defensive strategies of the time.

After going over the bridge, visitors first, see the stone two-precinct castle. Its awesome four interior towers are circular and are located in the four corners. The southeastern precinct, the largest, in fact, includes the tower on the south. In addition, it still has gun ports, battlements, and bastions on all the corners. There is a drawbridge connecting both precincts over the large moat between them. The construction took several years, and it dates between the years 1380-1514.

Between the inner and outer precincts on the north side, there was a knightly building (warehouse). It was restored during the Italian occupation. Today however, it is used as a Museum of the architectural members of Kos. What’s more, it’s a visitable archaeological site and is also used as a temporary exhibition of altars, sculptures and inscriptions.

The Knights of Saint John left their mark through intricate frescoes and architectural details that provide insight into their way of life. For example, above the central gate is a Hellenistic frieze with masks and garlands. Furthermore, on the roof of the entrances (central gate, Carmadino gate) transverse granite columns have been placed, probably coming from the early Christian basilica of Limenos.

A Witness to History

Nerantzia Castle has witnessed numerous historical events over the centuries. It was the site of Ottoman and Venetian rule, and during World War II, it served as a stronghold for German forces. As a result, the scars of battle can still be seen in the castle’s walls, serving as a poignant reminder of the island’s turbulent past.

Visiting Nerantzia Castle Today

Today, as a result, Nerantzia Castle stands as a well-preserved historical site that welcomes visitors from around the world. It is located at the entrance of the port of Kos, in an area that in ancient times was an island and subsequently, was connected to the mainland by a bridge. This well preserved bridge, which is located next to the Hippocrates Plane tree is called Phoinikon (which means palm trees) street bridge.

Map of Neratzia castle on Kos Island

Nerantzia Castle in Kos Town is not just a monument; it’s a living testament to the island’s rich history. Exploring this medieval marvel allows you to connect with the past, appreciate the architectural ingenuity of the Knights of Saint John, and marvel at the resilience of this ancient fortress. In conclusion, whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply a traveler seeking to immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Greece, Nerantzia Castle is a destination that should be at the top of your list when visiting Kos.

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