Sami, Myrtos Beach and Assos Castle
On our penultimate day, we were heading off to Assos Castle but decided to stop off at Sami on the way to take a look around the port area. The port itself is located on the North Eastern side of Kefalonia. It was fairly quiet when we went but in the summer season, it gets really busy with ferries connecting to Patras and Astakos in mainland Greece, Italy, Ithaca and Lefkada. From here we headed to Myrtos Beach and then on towards Assos and the castle there.
Myrtos Beach is situated between the feet of 2 mountains: Agia Dynati and Kalon Oros and became famous for its use as a location in the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. To get to the beach one must navigate a rather steep and winding road which has its own fair share of hairpin bends and leads down from the village of Divarata.
In peak season you can get a public bus to the beach leaving Agia Efimia but when we went the buses had all but stopped (we did not see a bus the whole time we were on the island in fact) so your best bet is to hire a car. There is car parking at the end of the road at the base of the cliffs, there is a bar down on the beach and there are several tavernas at the top of the road down.
Myrtos beach really is stunning – deep blue seas and bright white pebbles and it has been voted the best beach in Greece 12 times. It really is well worth a visit.
From here we headed off towards Assos on the West coast, home of a rather large castle which covers the entire peninsula of Assos, an area of 44,000 square meters and is surrounded by a wall approximately 2000m long. It was built by the Venetians in around 1854 with a view to protecting against attack. However, it was never used as a fortress and the plan was abandoned for various reasons, the main one being a lack of natural water supply.
There is a pretty little village here and a lovely restaurant right on the water where you can stop for lunch before you head off to the Castle. You have to walk up and there are 2 ways you can go: One is straight up and along the nicely paved pathway or you can take the ‘short cut’ which is another approved but less well-maintained path along the side of the cliff. It is a bit of a trek because the Castle sits atop a hill apprx 170m in height. We took the cliff path up and we were rewarded by beautiful views along the way which we would have missed on the main path.
Venetian rule ended in 1797. In 1822, there was a settlement within the fortress and in the 1920s it was used as a prison for political prisoners who kept vineyards there. After the earthquake in 1953, most people left the castle and the prison there shut down. There are some relatively modern buildings to be seen inside the prison walls. By 1961 there were still 6 people living in there but the last one left 2 years later and it has been empty ever since.
It is free to get in the castle and if you like exploring ruins you’d be best to leave a lot more time than we did, we only had a couple of hours in the area and had to curtail our castle visit a lot more than we liked. Inside the ruins, you can see the church of St Mark and the house of the Venetian High Commissioner and also the small church of Prophet Elias, now abandoned, built in 1888.
Images of Sami
Images of Myrtos Beach
The Castle at Assos