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5 Fortified Settlements : the Castles & 'Goulades'of Santorini
Skaros Fortress, the Castle of Agios Nikolaos (Oia), the Tower of Nimborio (Emporio), Pyrgos Castle and Akrotiri Castle & Tower

The Venetian Rule: 1207 - 1580
During the Byzantine era and later during the Frankish occupation, the coasts of the Aegean suffered from incessant pirate raids. The islanders were forced to move their settlements to more inaccessable areas and fortify them. They constructed watch towers with bells as an early warning system.

In 1207, Santorini was incorporated into the Duchy of the Archipelago, with the capital on Naxos island under the Venetian Marco Sanudo (he ruled from 1207–1227).

Marco Sanudo gave the island the name Santorini, which is said to have been taken from the church Santa Irini on Thirassia island, a place suitable for anchorage at the time. Nowadays there is strong evidence that the Basilica of Agia Irini at the base of the mountain of Mesa Vouno gave Santorini its name, and not the chapel of Santa Irini in Thirassia.

The Venetians established a feudal system on Santorini and built fortified castle settlements at Skaros, the capital in those times, and in Oia, Pyrgos, Emporio, and Akrotiri. The feudal lords on the island lived in Goulades, tower structures that served as both defensible strongholds and as warehouses for the agricultural crops.

The Venetian occupiers brought the Roman Catholic religion, and for following centuries, Catholics and the original Orthodox peoples of the island co-existed more or less in harmony. Evidence of this religious freedom is found in some of the churches built during that period that featured dual altars: one for the orthodox, and one for catholic services.

Tower of Nimborio (Emporio) 15th Century
Also known as 'Goulas' (Turkish 'Kule' = Tower)

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