The Venetian Castle of Agia Mavra

Santa Maura Mediaeval Fortress


The Castle of Agia Mavra (also known as Santa Maura)  is strategically located on the Lefkada Island besides the Drepanos channel within close distance to Hora, only 1.2km away and it can be seen from the entrance of the island.

The History of the Castle

The original building of the castle of Agia Mavra was constructed in 1300 by the Sicilian Ioannis Orsini with the main aim of protecting the new capital of the island, which was transferred on Lefkada from the town of Kaligoni and to defend the island from the pirates and other enemies. The castle has undergone total renovation and remained very well preserved. In its best days, this magnificent castle’s interior comprised squares, cisterns and administrative buildings. According the history, the Frankish knights who conquered the island of Lefkada in 1294, named the castle in the everlasting memory of the country of origin Agia Mavra (Sainte Maure).  For a period of time, the whole island of Lefkada was named the Castle of Agia Mavra. In the 16th century Venetians took over the rule of the island.

In 1487, the island has been overtaken by the Ottomans and Sultan Bagiazit ordered the construction of an aqueduct and a bridge connecting the city with the castle. This arcade shaped bridge had 360 rooms, and crossed the lagoon from the coast to Kalkani. This project was destroyed by the earthquakes. In 1716, after the Ottomans had failed to conquer Corfu, the Venetians managed to return to Agia Mavra.

What to See

In the beautiful Mediaeval Castle of Agia Mavra you can see the church of Agia Mavra. According to tradition, the church was built in the 15th century by Helen Palaiologina who built this church in honor of Agia Mavra who protected her once from the storm. She came to the island for the wedding of her daughter to the Count of Lefkada. After the Turks occupied the island, this church became a mosque. Today, you can see the ruins of the construction of the bridge built by the Turks that connected the castle with the city. In 1500, the Venetians restored the Castle, and in 1684, a lion, the symbol of Venice, was placed above the Castle’s gate. Unfortunatelly, it is barely visible today.  During its best days, in addition to the church of Agia Mavra, inside the fortress could be found the church of Latin Pandokrator and numerous other buildings like schools, barracks, water tanks, hospitals, storage rooms as well as the seat of the politicians. The castle was destroyed by the fire in 1888. After its renovation it served as a refugee camp for a period of time. During the World War II, the Castle of Agia Mavra suffered Italian attacks and was destroyed by the bombs. Inside the castle there is a canon upon which the name of the manufacturer Carlo Carmozzi for Bergamo still can be seen.

Today the castle is open to tourists who visit it in a large number every year and it houses various cultural events during the summer season.


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