Parts of the Castle of the Knights in the area of Stavros

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On the southwestern side of Nisyros, at the southernmost edge of the volcano, lies the fertile area of Argos, a serene lowland slope that ends at the sea. The area is known for its rich archaeological remains, which come from different chronological periods and prove the continuous use of the site from antiquity, at least until the 15th century. This continuity is due to the strategic importance of the location, which offers a wide field of view of the entire sea area between Nisyros and the islands located to the southwest. In particular, control could be kept over the neighbouring coves of Lefkos and Ayia Irini to the south. At the same time, this location allowed people to control the caldera of the volcano to the northeast, where the plain of Ramos and the valley of Lakki, which used to be the most productive areas of the island, are located.
The castle of the Knights in Argos stood on the hill, known to the locals as Stavros, a location that allowed people to have visual contact with the castle of Emporio, the castle of Nikia, and the castle of Parlettia.

It was built in the location of the ancient fortification wall. It is assumed that the settlement was located at the valley south of the fortification. According to the German archaeologist Ludwig Ross, who visited the island in the middle of the 19th century, a section of the masonry of the walls had similarities to the masonry of the walls of the ancient city of Nisyros at Palaiokastro. The settlement of Argos is mentioned by Stefanos of Byzantium as one of the ancient cities of the island.
Nisyros was populated by descendants of Dorians (Epidaurians and/or Argians). This agrees with the record of Herodotus (VII, 99), who wrote that the residents of Nisyros came from Epidaurus. The most important sanctuary of the Nisyrians, dedicated to Poseidon Argeios (Strabo I, 488) should be probably sought in Argos. The existence of the sanctuary is confirmed by an inscribed base of a statue in honor of a Nisyrian General, of the second half of the 2nd c. B.C. (IG XII.3, 103 = Syll. 3 673). On the other hand, according to local tradition, the temple was located in Hellenica, an area, which is also located in the region of Argos.

The habitation of the city continued during the Christian era until the 15th century, when it was destroyed, probably by an earthquake, while rock-falls from the surrounding slopes covered the ancient ruins. The Knights of the Order of St. John, after the occupation of Nisyros in 1314, apparently took advantage of the excellent location of the ancient citadel and the available building material and built the fortress of Argos. There is no information on the exact construction date, but in the early 15th century, the Florentine traveler Cristoforo Buondelmonti saw the castle and included it in his travel diary of 1420 as one of the five fortified settlements of Nisyros. Documents of the archive of the Order provide us with information on the fortress, the settlement, and the relationships between the Knights and the locals. It seems that even after the destruction of the settlement the castle garrison remained to control the fertile valley of Lakki.

Nowadays, few remains of the medieval fortress are preserved. In 1727 the monastery of Stavros took its place with the re-use of building materials from the castle. The monastic complex is a metochion (glebe) of Panagia Potamitissa. The monks deserted it at the end of the 19th century and after a period of abandonment, it was renovated during the 1980s and 1990s. A great fair is organized in its spacious courtyard, where crowds of pilgrims from all over Nisyros get together. The monastery has also service facilities such as a kitchen, a dining room, a large, newly built conference room, and cells for the guests, whose roof offers a unique, panoramic view of the volcano crater. You can reach the Monastery from the new carriage road, which ascends south of Mandraki, or from an old cobbled path starting from Nikia.

Area of Argos, Nisyros, postal code 85303

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Open year round

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