History

Parga (Greek: Πάργα [paɾɣa]) is a town and municipality located in the northwestern part of the regional unit of Preveza in Epirus, northwestern Greece. Parga lies on the Ionian coast between the cities of Preveza and Igoumenitsa.

Photo of castle of Ali Pasha in Parga.

Parga

In antiquity the area was inhabited the Greek tribe of the Thesprotians. The village of Parga stands from the early 13th century. It was originally built on top of the mountain "Pezovolo". In 1360 the Pargians in order to avoid the attacks of the Magrebins transferred the village to its present location. During that period, with the help of the Normans who held the island of Corfu, the fortress of Parga was built. In 1401 a treaty was signed with the Venetians, and the rule of Ionian Islands passed to them. The Venetians respected the lifestyle of Pargians who provided in turn, invaluable assistance to the fleet of the Venetians. At the same time Pargians fought by the side of their compatriots to throw off Ottoman rule. As Parga was the only free Christian village of Epirus, it was a perfect refuge for persecuted fighters and their families. In 1797 the area, along with the Ionian Islands and Parga, fell into the hands of the French, and in 1800 proclaimed free city status with broad authority under the protection of the Sublime Porte. In 1815, with the fortunes of the French failing, the citizens of Parga revolted against French rule and sought the protection of the British.

In 1817, following a treaty between Britain and the Ottoman Empire, the British granted Parga to the Ottomans. This resulted in the Good Friday of 1819 where 4,000 Pargians having with them the ashes of the bones of their ancestors, their sacred images, flags and a handful of soil from their homeland, exiled themselves in the British protecturate of Corfu where they settled. The former citizens of Parga never ceased to dream of returning to a free country and to participate actively in the struggle for liberation. But they had to wait almost 100 years for this. Parga and the rest of Epirus was liberated from the Ottoman rule on 1913 following the victory of Greece in the Balkan Wars.

The Castle

The Castle is found on the top of a hill overlooking the town and was used to protect the town from the mainland and the sea. It was initially built in the 11th century by the residents of Parga to protect their town from the pirates and the Turks. In the 13th century, as their control of the region increased, the Venetians rebuilt the castle to fortify the area. In 1452, Parga and the castle was occupied by the Ottomans for two years during which time part of the castle was demolished. In 1537, Ottoman admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa burnt and destroyed the fortress and the houses within.

Before the reconstruction of the castle in 1572 by Venetians, the Turkish demolished it once again. The Venetians rebuilt for third and last time a perfect strong fortress that stayed impregnable until 1819, despite the attacks especially of Ali Pasha of Ioannina, who besieges them from the castle of Agia-Anthousa. Venetians created a perfect defence plan, which in combination with the natural fortification made the fortress. Outside the castle, eight towers placed in different positions completed the defence. Inside the narrow space of citadel there were 400 houses, located in a way so that they occupied only a little room, far away from the seaside. On this castle the free-besieged population of Parga and Souli fought epic battles and kept their freedom for centuries. From the faucet "Kremasma" the tanks of the castle and the houses were provided with water. The castle for its provision used the two bays: of Valtos and Pogonia. When Parga was sold to the Ottomans, Ali Pasha enhanced it even more and put on its top its harem and its Turkish bath, improving radically the rooms of the castle. On the arched gate of entrance, on the wall, you can see the winged lion of Agios Markos, the name "ANTONIO BERVASS 1764", emblems of Ali Pasha, two-headed eagles and relative inscriptions. Archways, gun emplacement rooms, supplies lodges, strong bastions with gun safe boxes, safe boxes of small arms, secret passage to the sea, barracks, jails, warehouses and two block-houses at the last defense line: prove the perfection of the defense plan, which along with the natural fortification made the fortress unconquered.