(1900 Times Atlas of the World)
1401 The Venetians, having acquired Corfu, fortify a hill protecting a small cove on the Greek mainland.
1797 Assigned to France by the Treaty of Campoformido.
1798-1814 After several political changes, Parga eventually becomes part of a British protectorate.
1819 The British sell the port of Parga to Ali Pacha of Tepeleni
View of the fortress
from the modern town
The town of Parga stands upon rocks, which forming a promontory protect
two ports; and its walls, following the declivity of the ground and inclining a little
to the north, embrace the whole of the promontory. Vast screens of olive-trees,
mingled with tufts of oranges grouped in the distant scene, form many points of
view on which the eye rests with delight.
Franšois Charles Hugues Laurent Pouqueville (French consul in Ioanina in 1805-1814) - Travels in the Morea, Albania, and other parts of the Ottoman empire - 1817 edition
Parga is a tiny cove in the historical region of Epirus, opposite the Venetian islands of Paxi and Antipaxi and it was used by Venice to support the maritime route from Corf¨ to the Aegean Sea.
June 24th, 1805. It was customary for the Venetians to supply the Parghini with
biscuit, powder, and ball, in case of necessity, and they had
always the prospect of a secure retreat at Paxus. This enabled
them still to maintain their little territory against the Musulmans
around them, who looked with an envious and greedy eye upon
this flourishing little Christian community, and whose increasing
power and numbers caused the wars of Parga to be more frequent during the last century than they were before. In these
wars they have sometimes been attacked by 5000 or 6000
Turks, when they had no more than 400 musquets.
William Martin Leake - Travels in northern Greece - 1835.
The Venetians, through their possessions in the islands and in the mainland, were able to control all movements of ships along the Ionian coast of Greece.
Details of the fortress: (left) second entrance to the fortress; (right-above) Lion of St. Mark (also in the image used as background for this page); (right-below) inscription on the first entrance
Parga is protected from Aly at
present by a resident agent of the Porte, under
whom the people enjoy their old municipal government unchanged. (..) When
Aly Pasha took Prevyza from the French, he instantly desired
the Parghini to send a deputation to confer with him. To this
they gave no answer. (..) At the same moment, having heard of
the arrival of Admirals Uschakoff and Kadri Bey, with the Russo-Ottomanic squadron, at Zakyntho, they persuaded the French
garrison to retire to Corfu, and dispatched deputies to the admirals who were well received, and assured of the protection of
the allies, but were recommended to cultivate the good-will of Aly.
In consequence of this advice they (..) signed a treaty, by which they gave up
Parga to the Porte, and agreed to hoist the Ottoman flag, on the
condition that they should preserve their ancient internal government, that they should not be obliged to admit any Turk into the
place but as a guest, and that their tribute to the Porte should be
no more than 200 florins of Constantinople per annum, with three
per cent, upon their maritime commerce. Leake
According to an inscription the fortifications were strengthened in 1707 by Marco Teotochi, commander and governor of Parga; he belonged to a noble family of Corfu and his Greek surname (Teothokis) was Italianized. Count Giorgio Spiridione Teotochi became the first president of a short-lived (1800-07) Septinsular Republic of the Ionian Islands and Isabella Teotochi was famous for her literary salon in Venice in the early XIXth century.
This town (..) has found the means of freeing itself, entirely by its
own exertions, from the Turkish yoke: every thing leads to the belief that it will
never be compelled to resume its fetters. Its population may be estimated at
about eight thousand. (..) The towns of Margariti (an Albanian port ruled by a local family) and Parga are the most troublesome neighbours remaining to the pasha of Albania. They have been for a long time his declared enemies;
and their whole population, which is numerous and brave, is occupied only in
endeavouring to annoy him in every possible manner. Pouqueville
The eastern side of the hill required fortifications whereas the western one was protected by a precipitous cliff.
Milan Modern Art Gallery: Francesco Hayez - I Profughi di Parga - 1831 Oil on canvas
Before the publication of my Journal, Parga was given up to the Turks. This measure, however harsh it may appear towards the Parganotes, was unavoidable. We were not authorized by cession to retain the place after the conclusion of peace. Therefore, as the population and resources of Parga were insufficient for its own defence, the happiness of its people was best consulted, under the circumstances, by stipulating for them the choice of emigration on their receiving indemnification for their immoveable property, the other alternative (of their submission to Turkey) being equally incompatible with their love of liberty and Ali Pasha's thirst of vengeance.
William Turner - Journal of a Tour in the Levant - 1820
The name of Parga became very popular, because the cession of the town by Sir Thomas Maitland, Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, to Ali Pacha of Tepeleni was seen as a betrayal of the local Greek population in a period of rising Philhellenic feelings in western public opinion.
On Good Friday 1819 the bells were tolling, while the Pargiots disinterred the bones of their dead, burnt them and took the ashes together with the holy icons to Corfu. Ali's troops entered a town where all was solitude and silence. Although the event was not so uncommon in the region it became a symbol of the cynicism of the Great Powers and the subject of speeches, poems and paintings, thus putting pressure for an intervention in favour of the Greek independence.
Ruined buildings of the citadel inside the fortress
After the acquisition of Parga Ali Pacha built a citadel at the top of the fortress: it included a residential palace, military installations, cisterns and a hammam.
Parga was again abandoned in 1924 when its Muslim inhabitants, with whose ancestors Ali Pacha had repopulated the town, were forced to relocate to the Republic of Turkey in a general exchange of populations between Greece and that country.
View from the fortress of the islet which closes the cove of Parga
|Ed ecco verso noi venir per nave|
un vecchio, bianco per antico pelo,
gridando: "Guai a voi, anime prave!
Non isperate mai veder lo cielo:
i' vegno per menarvi a l'altra riva
ne le tenebre etterne, in caldo e 'n gelo.
E tu che se' costý, anima viva,
pÓrtiti da cotesti che son morti".
Ma poi che vide ch'io non mi partiva,
disse: "Per altra via, per altri porti
verrai a piaggia, non qui, per passare:
pi¨ lieve legno convien che ti porti".
E 'l duca lui: "Caron, non ti crucciare:
vuolsi cosý colÓ dove si puote
ci˛ che si vuole, e pi¨ non dimandare".
Dante's Inferno - Canto III 81-95
|And lo! towards us coming in a boat|
An old man, hoary with the hair of eld,
Crying: "Woe unto you, ye souls depraved!
Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens;
I come to lead you to the other shore,
To the eternal shades in heat and frost.
And thou, that yonder standest, living soul,
Withdraw thee from these people, who are dead!"
But when he saw that I did not withdraw,
He said: "By other ways, by other ports
Thou to the shore shalt come, not here, for passage;
A lighter vessel needs must carry thee."
And unto him the Guide: "Vex thee not, Charon;
It is so willed there where is power to do
That which is willed; and farther question not."
Translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The site of the marsh which once was caused by the Acheron River
The view from the hill comprehends all the adjacent part of the plain
with its numerous villages, and I perceive at once
that the river is the ancient Acheron; for after
winding through the plain it traverses a lake, or
marsh, or rather a combination of both, which is
evidently the ancient Palus Acherusia, and then falls into the harbour called Porto Fanari.
Epirus was not part of the Greek World; its inhabitants were regarded as barbarians because they were unable to speak fluent Greek; this can explain why one of the entrance to the Underworld was located beyond the River Acheron, a few miles south of Parga. The souls of the dead waited on the river's southern bank to be ferried across it by Charon; they had to pay a toll of a golden coin (which their relatives placed under their tongue).
Today the land crossed by the river has been reclaimed, yet the inland road which links Preveza with Parga explains to some extent why this location was regarded as the entrance to the Underworld. A few miles north of Preveza the road enters a lonely valley; the hills at its sides are covered by thick woods; only patches of silvery leaves indicate the existence of olive groves and of isolated farms; these signs of life become rarer and rarer and when the road is about to reach the pass leading to the valley of the Acheron, one has the feeling of having abandoned the land of the living.
Move to the Introductory page on the Venetian Fortresses in Greece
List of the fortresses
|Geographic area||Location||Ionian Islands||Corf¨ (Kerkyra) Paxo (Paxi) Santa Maura (Lefkadas) Cefalonia (Kephallonia) Asso (Assos) Itaca (Ithaki) Zante (Zachintos) Cerigo (Kythera)||Greek Mainland||Butrinto (Butrint) Parga Preveza and Azio (Aktion) Vonizza (Vonitsa) Lepanto (Nafpaktos) Atene (Athens)||Peloponnese (Morea)||Castel di Morea (Rio), Castel di Rumelia (Antirio) and Patrasso (Patra) Castel Tornese (Hlemoutsi) and Glarenza Navarino (Pilo) and Calamata Modon (Methoni) Corone (Koroni) Braccio di Maina, Zarnata, PassavÓ and ChielefÓ MistrÓ Corinto (Korinthos) Argo (Argos) Napoli di Romania (Nafplio) Malvasia (Monemvassia)||Aegean Islands||Negroponte (Chalki) Castelrosso (Karistos) Oreo Lemno (Limnos) Schiatto (Skiathos) Scopello (Skopelos) Alonisso Schiro (Skyros) Andro (Andros) Tino (Tinos) Micono (Mykonos) Siro (Syros) Egina (Aegina) Spezzia (Spetse) Paris (Paros) Antiparis (Andiparos) Nasso (Naxos) Serifo (Serifos) Sifno (Syphnos) Milo (Milos) Argentiera (Kimolos) Santorino (Thira) Folegandro (Folegandros) Stampalia (Astipalea)||Crete||Grambusa (Granvousa) Castello (Kasteli/Kissamos) La Canea (Xania) Souda Candia (Iraklion) Rettimo (Rethymno) Spinalonga and Castel Mirabello Castles on the southern coast Sittia and Paleocastro|
You may refresh your knowledge of the history of Venice in the Levant by reading an abstract from
the History of Venice by Thomas Salmon, published in 1754. The Italian text is accompanied by an English summary.