Assos is a secluded village with only 100 inhabitants found on the North West coast of the island. The horseshoe shaped harbour, beautiful coastal scenery, with the hillside draped in pine and cypress trees, ensures Assos to be a romantic destination. The village has some fine examples of Venetian architecture and if you are lucky, one of the uninhabited houses may have a door ajar and you can glimpse a time gone by.
The French came to the aid of the people of Assos, after the 1953 earthquake, and they helped to rebuild the village. In thanks to this, the square has been named ‘Paris Square’ and a commemorative plaque is found dedicated to the French. This is situated close to the waterfront and an anchor and old cannon will be found there as well.
Dominated by a Venetian fortress, the larger of the two castles in Kefalonia, you may be tempted to take the walk up to explore. It is usually open but it may be wise to check first before making the ascent. It takes around 35 minutes to reach the 155m summit, and you can enjoy beautiful elevated views as you make your way up the winding paved walkway. Once there you can explore Assos castle or kastro which has been designated a site of European heritage.
The Kefalonians had petitioned the Venetian Senate in 1584 for the new fortress to be built as the castle of Saint George could not defend the whole of the island. The Venetians decided that this agreed with their plans for protecting their territories in the East and made ambitious plans to found a city within the castle and transfer their administration from the smaller castle of Saint George to the new one in Assos. Building started in 1593 and over 2000 metres of walls were laid. The shape is an irregular triangle as the building followed the contours of the terrain. However, as the castle began to take shape and the locals realised the intention to move them into the confines of the new castle, they were reluctant to relocate. They recognised that If the island was invaded the castle would become a prison to them as they would be cut off from all supplies. The castle was used for local government instead and Assos was made capital of the North of the Island.
Explore the Castle
The castle was used as a prison farm for the political prisoners after the war and until 1953, here they built terraces for their vineyards and cereal crops. Following this and until the late sixties, a community known as the Kastrini people lived cultivating olives and grapes, there were around double of their number to locals in Assos today.
The castle is a great place to wander around and consider how Kefalonia would have looked to its Venetian rulers, and the main points of interest once you go through the main gate and Venetian Lion, bearing left is the canal, then further down the south gate. The laboratory and the prison are close to this. Further along is the Church of St Elias. Going back and past the laboratory again you will come to the Church of St Mark and then the Proveditore’s (overlord) and then the water mill. The terrain requires walking shoes and the majority of the castle is in poor repair but well worth a visit.
Back down in the village of Assos you will find two beaches, both have pebbles, crystal clear water and glorious views across the bay, with traditional Greek tavernas along the sea front.
The picturesque village appears to have been suspended in time, and a joy to explore. Just the place to spend the day taking in the beauty of your surroundings whilst enjoying the local wine or tasting the fresh fish caught that morning in your choice of one of the many restaurants.
The evenings are very special, with a lovely relaxed atmosphere, and plenty of cafe bars where you can enjoy a drink, a chat with the friendly locals whilst admiring the incredible sunsets.
South of Assos is the famous Myrtos Beach. There are roadside viewpoints where stunning beach views can be photographed. The horseshoe shaped beach looks like it has dusty white sand and amazing turquoise blue water. You can drive down the winding road and spend some time on the beach itself. Here you may be disappointed that the beach is rocky with shingle instead of sand, but still has crystal clear blue water. It is still one of the most photographed beaches in Greece, and has won worldwide admiration for its beauty.
Not only famous for its splendor, but also for its participation in the film of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It was on Myrtos beach that la Scala, Corelli’s musical ensemble played in the sea with the women and also where Captain Corelli detonated the old Turkish mine whilst the villagers watched from the cliff above.