Chlemoutsi Castle is situated in the village of Kastro in the Municipality of Andravida-Kyllini on the westernmost cape of the Peloponnese. The impressive castle was originally built in 1220-1223 by the Franks at the top of Chelonata Hill with a breathtaking view to the plain of Ilis and the Ionian Sea as the centre of the medieval Principality of Achaia. Originally called Château Clermont, travellers referred to this incredible structure as Castel Tornese while the Byzantines called it Chloumoutzi.
Due to its strategic location, the imposing stronghold guarded the capital of the Principality Andravida, the harbour of Glarentza and, of course, the palace of the House of the Villehardouin that was situated within its walls. Nowadays it is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Greece, as it belongs to the Frankish period without having undergone significant later alterations to its architecture.
Chlemoutsi castle flourished during the reign of Villehardouin dynasty in the 13th century as a symbol of their absolute sovereignty. In the 14th century it was claimed by different noblemen, while at the start of the 15th century it came into possession of Carlo Tocco, Count of Cephalonia and Despot of Epirus. In 1427 Chlemoutsi passed peacefully to Constantinos Palaiologos as a dowry. In 1460 it was taken over by the Turks and in 1620 was plundered by the knights of the order of St John of Malta. In 1687 it passed into the hands of the Venetians who held Chlemoutsi in their possession till 1715 when it was reclaimed by the Turks, who in turn kept it till the Revolution of 1821.
The castle is equipped with double fortification. The outer rampart, stretching down the smooth hillsides, was high with battlements. This area sheltered the barracks, stables, storerooms for food and ammunition, and also the water cisterns. The central part of the castle, which stands on the hilltop, is a two-storey hexagonal structure that hosted the princely palace. The halls are arranged around a central courtyard. The Throne Hall was on the upper storey, where the Prince governed, received his notable guests or organized banquets. The adjoining wings housed the private apartments of the Prince’s family, the chapel and also the kitchen. The storerooms of the palace and other auxiliary spaces were situated on the ground floor.
Today the restored halls of the palace is the venue for a unique exhibition entitled “The Era of the Knights –Crusaders in the Morea”. The approximately 500 objects on display travel the visitors to the Frankish period in Greece and uncover unknown aspects of the medieval life.