09 April 2010

The Second Gate

A month ago, I wrote about the great formal staircases constructed by the Venetians which you can see at the top of the next Van Gogh-yellow photograph that I found on the interwebs.  (my compliments to the photographer whose name I have lost.). This street passes behind the Venetian armory on the plateia. I mentioned a staircase that went off to the left of it, which you see here above, with one of the jambs that supported a gate.

The stairs in that top photograph go up to a narrow street that runs along the face of the hill, and if you follow the street a short way to the left (you will find yourself almost above the mosque at the main plateia), you soon come to a large grassy lot that runs up the hill to the walls of Acro-Nauplion.  It is clearly private property with a well-cared-for and nearly-vertical garden, and over six or seven attempts I never found anyone at home.  However, it is clear that there are cut stone steps at the back of the garden going on up the hill.  This is the yard from above.

If you followed the stairs in the first photograph up to the road, you should be standing in front of that house with the terra-cotta coloured doors.  But from Acro-Nauplion, looking down in this view, you should see the arched opening in the tower in the center of the picture.

This is a slightly better view of the arched entrance, walled up, but there is no way a person of my sensitivity to private property, and -- most important -- my knees, could have got in a better position.  You  may be able to see for yourself, but probably you will have to take my word for it, that the stonework of the arch dates it to around 1700.

Looking up from the garden fence, this next picture shows the arched opening barely visible in the upper left corner, and shows where the stairs go up from a gate in the garden.  Here you can also see that the Venetians of 1713 or so had removed part of the birm from the construction of the 1480s or 1530s, probably because it took up too much room for their construction plans.

This all means that the Venetians of the 1686-1715 occupation had taken the trouble to build steps (with a gate, and thus a guard -- top picture) up from the plateia on the hillside, and then reconstruct steps going up the face of the hill to the second gate of the city of Acro-Nauplion.  I wrote earlier about the first, main gate.  This is the second gate.  The grand gate of 1713 was the third.  This second gate has not, as far as I know, previously been noticed.  The pictures suggest why it has been so easy not to notice it.

Although the gate exists on the first known map of Nauplion, of 1571 by Camoccio.  Which means it was there at least before 1540 when the Venetians had to give up Nauplion.  This detail from the Camoccio map may make it slightly clearer.  The Google aerial map is of no use here.

The Acro-Nauplion wall runs from the left, from the east going west, and then turns right and runs down -- north -- before turning right and to the west again where it meets the city wall coming up from the water. The round towers show the berms added by the Venetians in the 1480s and 1530s.  On that short stretch of wall coming down, you see the arched gate.  This is the gate I photographed from above, and the gate to which the stairs in that garden go up.  The gate is also shown below, slightly relocated,and labeled Porta, in an imperfect view of Nauplion made after 1686 but before 1713

That is pretty much it for the stairs and gate, except to ask why, if they had those stairs and gate available, and if they had already rebuilt the arch -- probably after enlarging the gate -- why did they then built the grand stairs and formal gate I wrote about before.

These are steep stairs, both sets of them -- from the little plateia up to the street, and from the street up to the gate.  The new grander stairs are less steep and would, I think, allow for horses to be ridden all the way up from the harbor.  The grander, less steep stairs would allow for a procession without huffing and puffing, and the Venetians went in for frequent processions.

This is speculation.  I have not been able to get access to the inside of the wall with that second gate and I don't know when it was filled in.  But because of the appearance of the stone, I suspect the Venetians filled it in once that third, grand gate was completed.  If you have a chance to look at it more closely, let me know what you think.

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