Agios Andreas castle
Agios Andreas’ castle (Ic Kale) is situated at the north of the city of Preveza next to the sea. It was built by the Ottomans at the beginning of the 17th century as soon as the castle of Bouka had been demolished, since its absence made it harder to control the narrow entrance of the city. The Ottomans chose to build in that area because of it being high by nature. At the external side, they put stones and they constructed their new castle at the place that used to be called “at the cypress”, probably because there was a big cypress, which is a very frequent tree to the area even nowadays. The castle that we currently call Agios Andreas castle had three construction periods:
–Ottoman (1701-1702) In those 12 months the Ottomans built a castle that covered 62.000m2, almost six times bigger that Bouka castle. Details about the castle have come to light very recently, in a project attached to a report of the Venetian governor of Corfu island Daniel Dolfin. The report says that the castle is at a “distance of a cannon” from the old castle of Bouka. The castles’ walls are 2 meters high and 3.5 meters thick. The space between two towers, is approximately 210 meters long. The defensive moat is 2.5 meters deep from the wall’s base and 1-2 meters thick. It is also mentioned that the construction is not very strong and that the relatively small moat, the low parapet and the simplistic fencing with posts make it vulnerable to attacks of organized military units. From this very report we know the existence of two entrances to the castle, one towards the north and the other towards the south, as well as the existence of a Muslim mosque at the centre of the castle.
–Venetian (1718-1720) This period began when Preveza was conquered by the Venetians in October of 1717. The Venetians turned the mosque in the centre of the castle into a Catholic temple, dedicated to Saint (Agios) Andreas. They probably chose that specific Saint, because of the name of Admiral Andrea Pisani.
As soon as the city is conquered, the castle’s surface gets smaller, almost the half. The preserved projects about improving the castle show that the Venetians keep the whole east side of the existing wall. Two defensive walls are being constructed, creating this way an external yard of the main castle. Inside this yard there are some houses – probably of notable people of Preveza – so as to be protected from attacks. From the walls of this yard there is an escutcheon in relief well preserved. The existing moat is getting wider and deeper. No, it is 3-4 meters wide and the walls’height from the moat’s base has risen up to 3 meters and they are 2.5 meters thicker.
Inside the east yard of the castle, it is evident that a second temple of Agios Andreas was built, an orthodox one this time.
During the eighty years of Venetian occupation of Preveza, the city has been quite developed. The castle continued to dominate the city’s port, while at the beach, on the east of the castle, the first stoned mooring quays had begun to be constructed, so as to facilitate the ships to reach the shore.
–Ali Pasha period (1807-1808) In the beginning of 1807 an extended activity to fortify Preveza had begun and it was completed in 1815. Hundreds of workers from all over the area of Ali Pasha were forced to work at the fortifications, as a burden and at the same time they were paid a pittance. The construction of the defensive perimeter moat, known as tapia, and of the castles of Agios Georgios, Pantokratoras and Aktio and the tapia of Pounta are the most important moat constructions in the few years – just 14- that Ali Pasha governed the city.
During the two first years of that period, 1807-1808, the castle of Agios Andreas had been radically improved, as the signs on its walls show. The perimeter moat became almost twice wider and the walls got longer and they were covered in stones, similar to those of other newly built castles. The fortifications got better. A new imposing entrance next to the east fortification was created. The walls that protected the east yard of the castle got improved and this way the yard was integrated at the wider space.
The Christian Petros from Korytsa was the architect of Preveza’s all castles, as a byzantine form Greek sign informs us that existed on a stoned relief, at the upper left side of the gate of Agios Andreas castle.
The main entrance of the castle was decorated with some of the architectural parts of the remains of ancient Nikopolis that unfortunately was the quarry for the fortifications of Ali Pasha in Preveza. In different parts of the walls of the castle there were other stoned reliefs, from which we draw data over the constructions that took place.
At the same period of time, inside the east yard, at the place where the orthodox temple of Agios Andreas used to stand, the big ottoman mosque of Preveza was built, which appears to pictures of 1913. In 1920 the mosque was turned into an archaeological museum, as soon as the minaret was removed. In 1940 it was bombed and then demolished in the early 1950’s, at the same time, probably, with the big entrance of the castle. At its place the nowadays preserved building of Scouts was constructed. Inside the castle, in 1953 the new temple of Agios Andreras was built.
The coastal wall of the east yard of the castle was demolished by the army in the early 1920’s. The rest of the part of the wall that included the main entrance and the prisons, it was demolished in 1955 and at its place Preveza ΛΑΦ(Club Army Officers) was built. Inside the castle, where the big patio used to be, in 1930 a monument with the names of the heroes of the 24th Infantry Regiment and of citizens of Preveza that died in several wars was constructed there.
After the city’s liberation the castle served as a place for the installation of military units. As soon as the last military unit was withdrawn, in March 2005, the place was left unprotected and it was abandoned and ravaged. Pursuant to a Ministerial Decision in October 1980, the castle was listed monument and pursuant to law of 2002 the country’s castles were characterized historic monuments. In front of the castle the central coastal road of Preveza begins with some buildings of great beauty and importance.
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