Wednesday 26 April 2017

Heptapyrgion - Yedi Kule

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Akropolis and Heptapyrgion | Yedi Kule prison

While visiting the historic Ano Poli (also known as Old city or Upper town) you’ll easily realize that you are in the heart of the Medieval Byzantine Thessaloniki.

The Akropolis and Heptapyrgion through the centuries

Th eptapyrgio thessaloniki gienti kuleLocated inside the Akropolis of Thessaloniki, Heptapyrgion was built by the Byzantines during the Paleologian Dynasty (14th century AD). It was constructed over an older citadel possibly dated back to the 9th century AD. It was used as a garrison for the city’s military guard and a safe retreat for the indigenous population in case of siege or raids.

Having a distinct defensive character the structure was consisted of a main castle that was overlooking the entire area while it was protected by strong walls and defensive towers in several spots. According to sources, the name “Heptapyrgion” (Seven Towers Fortress) came from the seven towers on the Northern side of the Akropolis’ castle.

Several large gates (Portares) were leading to the inside yard of the complex while the Trigonio Tower on the Southeast was by far one of its most powerful and impressive elements. It was strategically located at the Acropolis’ boundaries thus connecting it to the city walls (that were extending for kilometers until the sea)!

Along with the Vardarium Fortress to the west, Top hane and the White Tower on the South, Yedi Kule (as it was later called by the Ottomans) was one of the city’s crucial defensive features during an invasion.

The location of the Heptapyrgion was ideal for a construction of such defensive nature because of its altitude and high ground that offered clear view of the surrounding land. For all these reasons it was considered of strategic importance and value, something that became very clear from the Hellenistic period of the city’s history!

It is safe to assume that the initial fortification of this location took place right after the founding of Thessaloniki in the 3rd century BC! Even after the Ottoman conquer in 1430 AD, the new rulers made extensive efforts over the necessary improvements and additions the Heptapyrgion needed.

Heptapyrgion as a prison (Yedi Kule)

Yedi KouleThe current configuration of the monument includes the Byzantine fortress along with its towers and several buildings that were later added when Yedi Kule was used as a prison in 1890. Their creation caused significant deteriorations to the structure’s initial architecture.

In 1989 the prison was finally transferred outside Thessaloniki and Yedi Kule came under the jurisdiction of the Greek Ministry of Culture. Since then it has been partially restored while there are plans for a wider reconstruction that will include the entire area. Today it hosts various artistic and cultural events from all over Greece.

  • Within a small walkable distance from Yedi Kule you’ll discover some really nice small cafes that definitely deserve your attention. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy your coffee outdoors, especially on a warm, sunny day! If you wish to continue your sightseeing, the historic Monastery of Vlatadon is just a few minutes away!
  • Like most destinations in Ano Poli this spot offers fantastic view! Take your time and relax, enjoy a beautiful sunset full of colors and don’t forget your camera! 

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