Nafplion, Greece

Nafplio (Modern Greek: Ναύπλιο, Nafplio) is a seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece that has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf. The town was an important seaport held under a succession of royal houses in the Middle Ages as part of the lordship of Argos and Nauplia, held initially by the de la Roche following the Fourth Crusade before coming under the Republic of Venice and, lastly, the Ottoman Empire. The town was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic and of the Kingdom of Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834. Nafplio is now the capital of the regional unit of Argolis.

Name

The name of the town changed several times over the centuries. The contemporary Greek name of the town is Nafplio (Ναύπλιο). In modern English, the most frequently used forms are Nauplia and Navplion.

During the Classical Antiquity, it was known as Nauplia (Ναυπλία) in Attic Greek and Naupliē (Ναυπλίη) in Ionian Greek. In Latin, it was called Nauplia.

During the Middle Ages, several variants were used in Byzantine Greek, including Náfplion (Ναύπλιον), Anáplion (Ἀνάπλιον), and Anáplia (Ἀνάπλια).

During the Late Middle Ages and early modern period, under Venetian domination, the town was known in Italian as Napoli di Romania, after the medieval usage of “Romania” to refer to the lands of the Byzantine Empire, and to distinguish it from Napoli (Naples) in Italy.

Also during the early modern period, but this time under Ottoman rule, the Turkish name of the town was Mora Yenişehir, after Morea, a medieval name for the Peloponnese, and “yeni şehir,” the Turkish term for “new city” (apparently a translation from the Greek Νεάπολη, Italian Napoli). The Ottomans also called it Anabolı.

In the 19th century and early 20th century, the town was called indiscriminately Náfplion (Ναύπλιον) and Nafplio (Ναύπλιο) in modern Greek. Both forms were used in official documents and travel guides. This explains why the old form Náfplion (sometimes transliterated to Navplion) still occasionally survives up to this day.

Geography

Nafplio is situated on the Argolic Gulf in the northeast Peloponnese. Most of the old town is on a peninsula jutting into the gulf; this peninsula forms a naturally protected bay that is enhanced by the addition of man-made moles. Originally almost isolated by marshes, deliberate landfill projects, primarily since the 1970s, have nearly doubled the land area of the city.

 

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