Today we depart from lovely Parga and our views of its scenic, if entirely inadequate harbor, lovely rooms, delicious tavernas, and Scandenwegian tourist bustle. Over the last few days we have spiced up our vigorous routine of sitting very still and reading quietly with some visits to important local castles.
Our main interest were those forts built or rebuilt by Ali Pasha. (At first, I had hoped to read the 15,000 word epic poem the Alipashiad dedicated to his feats while relaxiating on my sun-drenched balcony. Leake provides a summary of some of the text, and Sathas provides the full text and it’s available here.) Ali Pasha was peripatetic during his rule in Epirus regularly traveling from one part of his despotate to the next, quelling rebellions and instilling fearful respect in his subjects. To facilitate this, he built a series of castles with well appointed quarters to house himself and his retinue.
Overlooking Parga and the base for his near continuous pressure on the town was his fortress in the village of Anthousa or Agia. Despite being designed by Italian military architects, was primarily a show-piece with an imposing exterior, but rather thin walls. It’s position overlooking the fortified town of Parga did effectively communicate the impending threat of Ali Pasha. We can all think about Foucault’s panopticon here, and the power of being seen. It stands just outside of the territory of Parga and was built in 1814 as Ali Pasha worked to negotiate the occupation of the town.
View from the Anthousa castle to Parga:
The castle is still maintains its basic form: a platform for guns with stands to 6 m in height and two courtyards. The courtyards provide access to a various quarters from a garrison and Ali Pasha’s retinue.
The main gate:
Gun port atop the main rectangular platform:
One of the courtyards:
Groin-vaulted space beneath the main platform:
The exterior walls have vaulted passageways beneath the platforms compromising the thickness of the walls:
After wandering Anthousa castle for a bit and wanting more, we headed up to Margariti castle. This castle has good 16th century credentials when it was built by the Ottomans in 1549 before being taken by the Venetians in the aftermath of Lepanto in 1571. By 1573, the castle returned to Ottoman control. The castle controlled the passes from the region of Souli where a group of families and villages of Christian Albanians remained largely independent from Ottoman control, to the coast near Parga. The castle was rebuilt by Ali Pasha and stood between the independent Souliotes and the Parga.
The castle is overgrown but nevertheless imposing with the west wall standing to over 10 m in height.
The interior was too overgrown to really understand, but it looked like a standard plan of Ali Pasha built castles with an open courtyard and several vaulted areas beneath a platform for guns:
The views over the wide valley leading out of the Souli are stunning though:
There were also more purple flowers: