Film info

Creator / Collector

It was built by the Venetian state official of the Duchy of Naxos, Giovanni Querini, on the site where the ancient citadel of the island was. It is unique among all the other that exist in the South Aegean. The fortification wall of the Castle is essentially identical with the continuous, external walls of the houses of the settlement, which were placed around the periphery, on the borders of the hill. With the undivided and unbroken walls, they formed the perimeter defensive ring. These are called “xokastra" (outside the castle). The castle had the appearance of a fortress to protect the inhabitants from pirates and provide visibility in the two natural harbors of the island.

We start the tour with views of the unique entrance of the Castle that is located on the southwest side and leads in the interior through a low, domed corridor that is covered with three cruciate vaults. We see the ruins of houses whose walls and windows were left open after the 1956 earthquake. The beautiful white dome (which is blue today) of castle’s church "Evangelistria" which was built in 1853, contrasts with the dark rock color of the ruined Querini house. The lens approaches the mansion's coat of arms.

Panoramic view with the ruins of old houses and then the big town square, the "blatsa" where the meetings of the castle took place. In a distance, a partial view of the second white church of the castle, St. Georgios which dates from 1790. Views of ruined houses again, which were three storeys high. Each house had two or three homes. That is to say they housed two or three families.

Views of stone stairs for the upper parts of the houses, beautiful arches, remnants of plastered walls and privileged small windows that are facing the sea. A zoom-in view to a cat who is guarding her kittens. They look with a great surprise at the lens. We also have trails of ancient temples which are descerned from broken, fallen colonnades.

It is spring and a range of beautiful colorful flowers and shrubs show off the flora of the castle. A panoramic view from above shows the rooftops of the whitewashed houses with the local architecture surrounding the castle.


Film Information

Bonar, Andrew Graham

HD (1440x1080)



Duration (seconds)

Super 8mm

Creator's description

At last we’ve reached the entrance to the castro. Let’s go through the archway -it is in fact the only way in. The castro was built largely by a Venetian, Giovanni Quirini, who took control of the island in 1413, gave himself the title of Count and encouraged colonists to come and settle. Frequent incursions by Turks and pirates obliged the inhabitants to build their homes within the castle walls. The population varied, but at times there were at least 3,000 people living within the castro.

It must have been frightfully congested up here in those days –difficult to imagine now when all is bare and empty, with only the shells of the houses round the periphery still in existence- plus of course the two churches, which are still whitewashed though they are no longer in use. Fortunately, there are one or two extant descriptions of the castro as it used to be. Listen to this, for example – a description by an Italian: “The interior of the settlement is odd. The very old houses, taller than usual in order to fully exploit the available space, form very narrow streets full of mystery. They disappear, ascend and descend in a labyrinth which at first glance is disorienting”.

A Venetian coat of arms bears witness to the Venetian period of rule. Evidence of occupation in ancient times is very slight, though there are a few pieces of columns and capitals lying about which give some substance to the theory that one or two ancient temples existed on the site.

From above, the oblong shape and defensive character of the oldest houses surrounding the castro is very clear. Let’s go down and in due course take a closer look at one or two other characteristic architectural features.
Bonar, Andrew Graham