Acrocorinth

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The Acrocorinth, Akrokorinthos (Ακροκόρινθος) in Greek, literally meaning "Upper Corinth" or the "acropolis of Corinth", is a monolithic hill overlooking the ancient city of Corinth in Peloponnese Greece. During the Hellenistic period, Acrocorinth, along with Demetrias and Chalcis, constituted the "Fetters of Greece", three fortresses strategically garrisoned by the ancient Macedonians to secure their control over Greek city-states.

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Overview

Perched on the steep hill towards the southwest of Ancient Peloponnese Greek city of Corinth, the Acrocorinth stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of ancient Greek history. This formidable fortress, known for its strategic location, has witnessed centuries of military, political, and cultural developments. The first fortification on Acrocorinth dates back to ancient times, and over the years, it evolved into a complex stronghold, serving as a key military asset. Today, Acrocorinth continues to captivate visitors with its commanding presence and archaeological significance, offering a window into the past of this ancient citadel.

From the initial constructions to later expansions and modifications, each era has left its mark on this mountainous bastion. The excavations, such as those undertaken in 1926, have unearthed artifacts that contribute to the ongoing narrative of Acrocorinth's role in ancient Greek civilization. This mountain fortress, also known as the "Mountain of Memory," invites enthusiasts and historians alike to delve into the mysteries it holds and unravel the story of its enduring significance.

According to a Corinthian myth recounted by Pausanias in the second century CE, Briareus, one of the Hecatonchires, served as the mediator in a dispute between Poseidon and Helios. The disagreement, revolving around the ownership of the Isthmus of Corinth (lower city of Corinth) and the Acrocorinth (acropolis of Corinth), concluded with Briareus ruling that Poseidon possessed the isthmus, while Helios claimed the acropolis.

Within the fortified walls of Acrocorinth lies the Upper Pirene spring. Legend has it that this spring, positioned behind the temple, was a gift from Asopus to Sisyphus. The story unfolds with Sisyphus withholding information about Zeus's relationship with Aegina, Asopus's daughter. Sisyphus only agreed to reveal the details after receiving a spring on the ancient Acrocorinthus.

Brief History

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Acrocorinth is known to have continuous occupation from ancient times until the early 19th century. Alongside Demetrias and Chalcis, it played a crucial role during the Hellenistic era as one of the "Fetters of Greece" – three fortresses strategically garrisoned by the Macedonians to assert control over Greek city-states.

The natural defensibility of the city's ancient acropolis, shaped by its geomorphology, prompted further fortifications during the Byzantine Empire. Serving as the seat of the strategos for the thema of Hellas and later the Peloponnese, it withstood a three-year Crusader siege led by Leo Sgouros. Subsequently, Acrocorinth became a stronghold for the Frankish Principality of Achaea, the Venetians, and the Ottoman Turks.

The hill's defense comprised three circuit walls, while its highest peak housed a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, later converted into a church and subsequently a mosque. Excavations by the American School's Corinth team commenced in 1929 CE, solidifying Acrocorinth's status as one of Greece's most significant medieval period castle sites.

Archaeological Remains

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Acrocorinth Mosque of Ahmed III
The current structure of the Acrocorinth Mosque of Ahmed III, also known as the Ahmed Pasha Mosque (Ahmet Paşa Camii) majorly dates back to the Ottoman period. It is part of the Acrocorinth Archaeological Site, situated in the Peloponnese, Greece. Constructed on the site of an earlier sixteenth century CE mosque, where a temple to Aphrodite stood during antiquity, this structure was commissioned by Sultan Ahmed III following the Ottoman reconquest of 1715. Presently, it is in a largely dilapidated condition, left abandoned and overlooked; nonetheless, there were restoration efforts in the year 2000. Archaeological study was carried out on the ancient mosque structure by Antoine Bon and Rhys Carpenter in 1936 CE. In the 2000s, efforts were made to consolidate the building, focusing primarily on reinforcing the structure of the windows and the minaret.

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Fortifications
The fortifications of ancient Acrocorinth, also known as the Acropolis of Corinth, represent a complex and strategically significant defensive system situated atop the Acrocorinth hill, constructed one after the other over the centuries, in Greece. These fortifications, dating back to various periods of ancient history, were very crucial in protecting and safeguarding the city of Corinth during the times of war. These defensive structures include cyclopean walls, gates, towers, and other military constructions. The fortifications of Akrokorinthos underwent several phases of construction and modification by different civilizations and occupying powers, such as the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians, reflecting the strategic importance of the site over the centuries.

Notable elements of the Acrocorinth fortifications include the Gates of Acrocorinth, which served as the main entrances and were fortified with defensive towers. The Hexamilion Wall, a fortification defensive wall constructed across the Isthmus of Corinth during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II, was another very crucial component that protected the region from land-based invasions. The multifaceted history and diverse architectural styles of the Acrocorinth fortifications contribute to its significance as a historical and archaeological site, providing insights into the military and strategic considerations of different civilizations that controlled the area.

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Upper Peirene Spring
The Upper Peirene Spring refers to the source or origin of the Peirene Spring, a notable water source in ancient Corinth, Greece. This spring was a crucial water supply for the city and held cultural significance in Greek mythology. The Upper Peirene Spring is a part of the broader Peirene Fountain complex, which includes both upper and lower sections. The Peirene Spring is often associated with the mythological story of Pegasus, the winged horse, as it is said to have been created by the horse's hoof striking the ground. The spring was a central feature in the city's landscape and played a role in various cultural and religious activities. Archaeological exploration and study of the Peirene Fountain have provided insights into the water management systems of ancient Corinth and its cultural importance. The Upper Peirene Spring, along with the lower section, remains a site of historical and archaeological interest, contributing to our understanding of ancient Greek urban infrastructure and mythology.

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