One of Santorini’s attractions that you may visit is the Kasteli of Emporio (Kasteli means castle). It is located about 20km (about 30 min driving) away from Oia and Esperas Hotel. The Kasteli of Emporio is one of the 5 Kastelia that you may find in Santorini. The rest are located in Oia, Skaros, Akrotiri and Pyrgos. Kastelia were built during 15th century during Venetian occupation and their main purpose was to protect inhabitants from the biggest threat of that time, pirate attacks like Hayreddin Barbarossa who raided Santorini at 1537.
The Emporio Kasteli’s architecture is stunning and it has been preserved in very good shape since a lot of its buildings have been restored even though they are not populated at all times.
After entering the front gate you can see multiple narrow alleys that formulate a small labyrinth with nearly vertical stairways as well as a lot of doors one next to the other, bridges among the houses, arches and domes, all built gracefully with volcanic materials. The indistinct shapes and figures and the medieval structures all around the place are very impressive. This castle was also used as a fort back then.
One of Kastelia’s main characteristics are the big towers called Goulas (from the Turkish word koules) that had multiple floors and were considered as inhabitant’s last shelter in case of attack. Goulades were situated either within (as in Oia and Akrotiri) or outside (as in Fira and Emporio) of the kastelia and acted as observatories for preventing the biggest threat of that time, pirate attacks. The Goulas of Emporio is located in the north part of Emporio’s village and was connected with the Kasteli through a tunnel. Within the Goulas tower used to be a small chapel dedicated to the founder of the Abbey of Patmos Christodoulos. Goulas was built at the same time with the Kasteli (around 15th century) by the monks of Agios Ioannis of Theologou in Patmos and considered as a glebe of Patmos island which was originally owned by the Dargenta family who were descents of Romanos Argyros, a byzantine Emperor. The Dargenta family owned also the Kasteli of Oia until 1579, when it passed to the Ottomans for 250 years.