Photo by Agnieska
Naupaktos (Venetian Lepanto) is a city on the western part of the north shore of the Gulf of Corinth, commanding the entrance into the gulf. In the 4th century it was the most important harbor between Corinth and Oxaea; in the Tabula Peutingeriana Naupaktos and Evanthia/Oiantheia are the only cities named in western Lokris. It was a bishopric suffragan to Corinth, then probably to Athens, and after 900 an independent metropolis. Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos lists it as a polis of the theme of Hellas, Skylitzes as a site in the theme of Nikopolis. Naupaktos was the seat of a strategos around1025; its strategos George died during a revolt and all his property was seized by the inhabitants; Constantine VIII punished the rebels and blinded the metropolitan. In 1040 Naupaktos was the only city of the theme that survived the attack of Deljan and his army. There is little information on its economy: in the 12th century Benjamin of Tudela found a community of 100 Jews there. After 1204 Naupaktos formed part of the despotate of Epirus, but in 1294 it was given to Philip I of Taranto , beginning the city's long period of Western domination. In 1361 Naupaktos fell into the hands of the Catalans, and the city passed from one Western power to another for several decades until the Venetians conquered it in 1407; thereafter they used Naupaktos (Lepanto) to safeguard their trade through the gulf against the growing power of the Turks. They strongly fortified the city, but it surrendered to Bayezid II in 1499. The present walls of the acropolis, of the lower city, and of a small harbor are works of the Venetians, built on ancient and Byzantine foundations. A possibly five-aisled basilica has been excavated in the lower city, and another can be surmised from the various marble fragments discovered in the acropolis. Additional Byzantine sculpture and inscriptions have been found throughout the city, but, aside from these, little of Byzantine Naupaktos survives.
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