Krommydokastro: In search of the lost castle of Smyrni - Petros Mechtidis - information on a Greek language book
Balta Editions present a book that aspires to cover a significant absence in the studies in the history of medieval and modern Smyrna, the medieval port castle of St. Peter.
Krommydokastro is the first in the ‘Ex Anatolon [From the East]’ series of ‘Balta’ Editions (at Glyfa, Ileia, the Peloponnese) and was written by the archaeologist Petros Mehtidis. This series deals with studying Asia Minor, with the presence of Greeks there, and much more.
Krommydokastro is an essential book in order to get to know the old monuments of Smyrna, valuable for the lovers of the history of Smyrna, specially for the ones who study the medieval and modern times of the city. It sheds light to the dark (due to the lack of sources) late Byzantine era and, mostly, to the relations between the West (the knights, the Pope and other forces) with the Turcoman conquerors of Smyrna. The vital significance of a castle is shown in the book to its full extent, a castle that functioned as an essential building for the city life in general. It is of a special interest to the studies of Smyrna, as it fills in a gap of its history, incomplete and fragmentary till now, since Krommydokastro had an important role in the city’s history.
Readers can have more information (in Greek) about the book at www.ekdoseisbalta.gr
Further information from: Excerpt from the ‘Mikrasiatiki Icho’ newspaper of Enosi Smyrneon (22-6-2009) - translation courtesy of Achilleas Chatziconstantinou
... The next big change in the fortification of Smyrna happened in the 14th century. The construction of St. Peter’s castle is related to the occupation of Smyrna by the Christian fleet of the Lombard Jean de Biandra. It actually belonged to the Pope himself until 1374 when it was ceded to the Hospitallers and their Grand Magister de Julliac by the Pope Gregory XI. In 1392 it was repaired by Domenico d’Allemagna and again, probably after the 1398 earthquake, by G. M. de Naillac. The occupation of Smyrna by Tamerlane meant a great destruction of the city and the Hospitallers rushed and built the Halikarnassos (Bodrum) castle further south.
It is commonly believed that Tamerlane razed St. Peter’s castle to the ground, but a number of travelers describe a castle on the same location, from D’Arvieux in 1654 to Arundell, Prokesh and Mas Latrie in the 19th century. Mas Latrie regards this castle a “latin” construction, with the exception of the loopholes. The castle’s grounplan was triangular, with each side measuring approximately 100 meters, with walls eight meter high and an inner castle at the corner controlling the port. This seems to be the purpose of building a second castle at Smyrna, after the one on Pagos Hill. The castle has been illustrated by the travelers Le Bruyn, Tournefort, la Borde Flandin. After the construction of Sanjak Kale – around 1650 – it was abandoned, but it was only demolished in 1872, since Turkish houses had already been built inside. It existed at the location of the Hisar mosque and Vezir Han. Regardless of its demolition, it is mentioned on British Admiralty maps as late as 1908.
The harbour that was protected by St. Peter’s castle was used for galleys and small ships in the 17th and 18th centuries and was later closed up by silt. However, in 1621 Weber mentions that big ships could still use it, but at the time of Chandler the port was visible only when it rained and in 1834 it was completely covered by soil and built over. The last trace of the port was a small lake that appears on 1844 maps and also on the 1908 British Admiralty map (“site of antique port”).
The sole remnants of St. Peter’s castle were the two marble slabs-coats of arms walled in the Smyrna prison. The same coats of arms have been described as being on the sea gate of the castle by the travelers D’ Arvieux, Thevenot, Arundell and Mas Latrie. These slabs depicted the coats of arms of Ferdinard de Heredia, Grand Magister of the Order from 1376 to 1396 and of Domenico d’ Allemagna. They can be securely identified with corresponding heraldic signs of the same years that survive on the Rhode city walls, thus allowing us the dating of the castle’s various construction phases.
These two marble slabs were published by Weber in 1894 at the “Imerologion tis Amaltheias” and more comprehensively by the English archaeologist F. W. Hasluck in 1911 (B.S.A. xvii, 1910-11).
Possible remains of this castle: