Chlemoutsi is a medieval castle in the northwest of the Elis regional unit in the Peloponnese peninsula of southern Greece, in the Kastro-Kyllini municipality.
It was built in the early 1220s by the Crusader rulers of the Principality of Achaea as their main stronghold and is perhaps the finest fortification of the early period of Frankish rule in Greece preserved in the country today. The castle is located on a small plateau 226 metres above sea level and comprises a central hexagonal keep, built around an inner courtyard and containing two-storeyed halls along its entire length and complemented by an outer wall enclosing an outer yard on its western side. The castle is largely preserved in its original 13th-century state, with only minor later modifications for the installation of artillery.
Located near the Principality's capital of Andravida and the chief port of Glarentza, Chlemoutsi played a central role in the Principality's history, but was never actually besieged. After coming under Byzantine rule in 1427, it was captured in 1460 by the Ottoman Empire, along with the rest of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea. In Ottoman times, minor additions were made to provide platforms for artillery, but the castle progressively lost its significance and was completely deserted by the late 18th century. In 1825, during the Greek War of Independence, part of its outer wall was demolished to prevent the Greek rebels from using it.
Today it is a preserved monument open to the public.
History: The castle was built between 1220 and 1223, during the rule of the Prince of Achaea Geoffrey I of Villehardouin, as a result of a dispute between the Prince and the clergy of the Principality. Geoffrey had asked the clergy, which owned almost a third of the Principality's lands but was not obliged to render military service, for additional donations to help defend the realm. When the clergy refused, claiming that they owed allegiance only to the Pope, Geoffrey confiscated Church property, and began construction of Chlemoutsi with the new funds. The fortress was set on a new foundation, with no previous structure identifiable on this site.
Its French name, Clairmont or Clermont, most probably gave rise to the Greek form of Chlo[u]moutsi, which more recently became Chlemoutsi, although various theories have been proposed as to the name's origin, with suggestions of Greek, Albanian or Slavic roots pre-dating the Frankish fortress.
From the 15th century, Italian sources came to call it Castel Tornese, apparently through a confusion with the seat of the Principality's mint in nearby Glarentza, which until the middle of the 14th century minted silver tornese coins.
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