Castle of Neposi
The castle (Kasteli) is located at the top of a steep slope in the wider area named Neposi, southwest of the settlement Palaiochori. The hill is washed by the river Palaiochorinos Lakkos, tributary of Chavria, river of Ormylia. There is only one narrow, roughly passable path that connects the hill with the mountain to the east. Nevertheless, the castle is visible from afar, because it has larger mountainous volumes around it. The natural terrain is particularly strong and the vegetation is wild. The 10th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities of Halkidiki, which made excavations in 1998 and 2003, headed by archaeologist Joachim Ath. Papaggelos has much information regarding the Kasteli.
These showed that the 1km, rough stone and plaster made fortified wall surrounding the castle that is preserved in a height of 4m, consists of probably three construction phases: One during the Christian era where it was almost destroyed by an earthquake, one during the middle-byzantine era and a probable third, repair phase. The castle occupies an area of about 15 acres and it had a settlement in its western part. There was also a wooden-roofed, three-aisled basilica rhythmed temple of the 6th century with a marble chancel and an arch-roofed, two-room underground tomb underneath the narthex. Many middle-byzantine era burials were discovered inside and around the temple. The temple was probably destroyed by an earthquake but later –probably in the 10th century- it was restored. The excavation also showed that it had been restored two more times prior to being deserted.
Archaeological research provided valuable information about the monument and the area. The handmade shells (ceramic fragments) discovered, indicate inhabitation since the prehistoric era. Findings are not limited to prehistoric shells. Hellenistic shells and Roman coins that were discovered, indicate that the area was populated during Hellenistic and Roman rule periods. Also discovered, were coins of Emperors Anastasios and Ioustinianos, from which is concluded that the occupation of the area continued during the 5th and 6th centuries. Finally, ceramic fragments that had been glazed were discovered, a technique that indicates the inhabitance of the area during the 14th century. It was then when the great disaster and abandonment of the castle must have happened, an event maybe relevant to the foundation of the Palaiochori settlement that starts appearing in historic sources at the time. Joachim Papaggelos informs us for the two inscriptions found in the ruins of the temple. The first is of 6th century and probably comes from the arch-roofed underground tomb of the narthex and says:
άννου υἡοῦ Εὐ-
τροπίου, εἴ τις
δὲ εὐρεθῖ τί-
θον παρὰ γνό-
σεoς ἐμοῦ, δόσι
λόγον τοῦ Θ(εο)ῦ ἐν ἡ-
The inscription is about a person named John who was buried in the specific place and is probably badly written and misspelled. It seems, by a bronze ring found there, feature of the middle-byzantine period, that the tomb was again used during that period. The right half of the more important second inscription is preserved. It is probably related to the restoration of the castle during the middle-byzantine period and says:
[... θεο]φύλακτον κάστρον
[... Kωνσταντίν]ου καὶ Zωής
[...] Mιχαὴλ πατρι [κίου...] τούτους του[ς]
[... ἔτου]ς ´SYK[S´]
´SYK[S´] is the year 917/918, the period when both Constantine VI Porphyrogennetos, who was under aged, and his mother Zoi Karvonopsina ruled the kingdom. The name Michael must be of a known patrician who lived during that specific period and must have been connected to the administration of the area, or he arranged for the restoration of the castle. The mere nobles’ interest for the castle indicates its importance. It was probably an important link to the defense network of the empire, since it is known that Halkidiki, especially during the second half of the 10th century, was a target of Bulgarians.
DISCOVERING THE WALLS
The approach to the walls and the castle is made via a dirt road and a non signed walk path. Following the main road connecting Palaiochori to Megali Panagia, you will see on your left, in less than 3km the signs for the wider area named Neposi. The initially uphill road is passable and in approximately 450m you will come across a purple sign showing the left branch of the dirt road. Continue and in less than 3km you will come across a wooden watchtower on your left. Climb the small ladder and you will see on the opposite side the largest part of the stone-made castle’s wall. In order to stand next to it you will have to find, a few meters ahead, the non signed path that first descends to the ravine and then ascends towards the Kasteli.