Orea’s Frankish Castle and Lepida Waterfalls

The main tower wall at Orea's Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese

The Frankish princess welcomed the sun rising over the Argolic gulf every morning. Her castle, built on top of the hill, offered a panoramic view of the area. She could see as far as the shores of Argolis and the island of Spetses. She could feel the chilly air coming from the fir wood of mount Parnon on the south. The cedar forest on the west, send her a breeze after sunset.

Plane trees and tall grass at the bank of Vrassiatis river, at Xirocambi plain, near Orea's Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.
Plane trees and tall grass at the bank of Vrassiatis river, at Xirocambi plain, near Orea’s Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.

She could hear the roar of the Lepida waterfalls, in the deep gorge over a cliff at the east side of her castle. The Vrassiatis river crossing the plain under the hill, sculpted the rocks, shaping ponds and all kinds of waterfalls.

The Lepida Waterfalls created by Vrassiatis river. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.
The Lepida Waterfall created by Vrassiatis river. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.

She would often follow the rugged path on the east side of the castle that leads to the bottom of the cliff. Covered under the shadow of the plane trees and the huge rocks around the river, she would take her bath, like a nymph, in the turquoise, cold waters.

The Nymphs waterfall at Lepida gorge. Arcadia, Peloponnese.
The Nymphs waterfall at Lepida gorge. Arcadia, Peloponnese.

Blinded by her beauty, a man decided to betray her and help the Turks take over the castle. She had bravely stood up against the Turks, who had repeatedly attacked the castle, for twelve years.
The Turk commander offered him money, a fine horse and two silver swords. He only wanted the dark eyed princess for his prize.

Disguised as a monk, he knocked the castle’s main gate asking for food. The princess felt sorry for him and send him food. He kept asking them to open the gate, pretending he needed to pray at the church. The princess offered to throw him a rope or a basket over the walls to get him inside. He said that hunger made him dizzy and could not climb up. At last he managed to persuade the princess to open the door ajar.

The remnants of a gate at Orea's Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.
The remnants of a gate at Orea’s Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.

The Turks invaded and took over the castle. The beautiful maiden in despair had no other choice but to join the waterfall nymphs… She jumped off the cliff.

Flower on the base of the wall at Orea's Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.
Flower on the base of the wall at Orea’s Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.

She can still be seen bathing at the river ponds, some quiet noons filled only with the sound of the rushing water.

Vrassiatis river in Lepida gorge. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.
Vrassiatis river in Lepida gorge. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.
The Lepida Waterfalls and gorge created by Vrassiatis river. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.
The Lepida Waterfalls and gorge created by Vrassiatis river. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.

The Orea’s (or Oria’s) Castle (Castle of the Beautiful Maiden) is a name given to several medieval fortresses. Her story became a song. The castle was built over Xirocambi plain near Lepida waterfalls by Guillaume II de Villehardouin (1246-1278).

Euphorbia characias can be found everywhere in Arcadia. This was near Orea's Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.
Euphorbia characias can be found everywhere in Arcadia. This was near Orea’s Castle. Kynouria, Arcadia, Peloponnese.

We joined the local mountaineering club, ΣΑΟΟ, to a hike to Oria’s Castle and to Lepida waterfalls. We had a great time and the scenery is fantastic. There’s not much left from the castle. Where’s the glory of the princess and her noble family?

Vrassiatis river and the waterfalls are still there and tell us the true meaning of the story: The vanity of high castles and pursuit of power.

Comments

  1. quite the fairytale!

    March 13, 2014 Reply

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