The old castle of Agia Mavra (or known as Santa Maura) is located directly at the entrance of Lefkada island.
You will find this important historical sight of Lefkada next to the interesting pontoon bridge, on its eastern side. Castle of Agia Mavra is the largest medieval castle in the area, which remained in a fairly good condition. If you arrive to Lefkada from the direction of Greek mainland, you will meet with its strong walls just before you drives through the pontoon bridge.
History of Agia Mavra
The first walls of the castle were built by the Sicilian governor Giovanni Orsini, to protect the island and its surrounding area from the pirates. After a few years, in 1294 the island became a property of Franks. Around 1300 Lefkada town became more important and it was dedicated as the economical center of Lefkada island, so a stronger fort was a neccessary solution against pirates and invaders. Initially the area of Agia Mavra was much smaller than today, but it has been rebuilt and expanded several times with barracks, administrative buildings, cisterns, and storage rooms.
At the beginning of 15th century Ottomans occupied the area, they have built a mosque and a small bridge inside the walls of the castle. Turks ruled over Agia Mavra until 17th century, when Venetians took control over the island, under the command of Francesco Morosini. Lefkada became a Venetian province. The Venetians increased the area of the fortress, even strengthened its walls. You can still see the main symbol of Venice, the Lion of Saint Mark in many places.
In 1888 a large fire destroyed several buildings inside, but only a few of them have been rebuilt after disaster.
What to see by a visit of Agia Mavra (Santa Maura) in Lefkada
The castle is well preserved today, due to its strong and thick walls, which has been strenghtened for centuries. The Venetian fort of Lefkada is protected by a narrow canal, and the small bridge which leads to the main entrance of Agia Mavra is located at the west side of the building, directly next to the pontoon bridge. If you enter the castle and walk around, you will meet a tiny chapel called Agia Mavra, which was built in the 15th century. Inside the walls you can find ruins of medieval buildings, Turkish and Venetian ruins both.
Next to the entrance of Agia Mavra there is a modern lighthouse, which is working today as well. In Lefkada there are only two important lighthouses, the other can be seen in the south, by visiting the picturesque Cape Doukato.
Don’t be surprised when you will meet archeologists and excavations inside the walls of Agia Mavra, because sometimes restoration works and excavations are still in progress.
Agia Mavra just as other Greek forts and museums, is closed for a day in a week, which is usually Tuesday. The entry fee is about 3-4 Euros, and you have to pay it at the entrance.
Guide to Agia Mavra (Santa Maura) / info box
Coordinates: 38.844202, 20.719224
2 km east from Lefkada town
Accessibility: by car, or walking from Lefkada town (2 km)
Entry fee / ticket price: approx. 3-4 Euro / person
Opening hours: 9:00 – 15:00, closed on Tuesdays