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Culture Archaeology Monuments Fortresses Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Xanthi Municipality of Stavroupolis

Castle of Kaliva
(Photo: PAMTH 1994)
Diagram of the Castle of Kaliva
(Photo: PAMTH 1994)
The gate of Priapos
(Photo: PAMTH 1994)
The gate of Priapos
(Photo: PAMTH 1994)
Carved representation of Priapos
(Photo: PAMTH 1994)

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28/11/2007
Castle of Kaliva

Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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The castle of Kaliva, located in the Municipality of Stavroupolis northwest of Xanthi, is built on a hilltop 627 m high, which was a very important strategic point in controlling the valley of Nestos river. After the demolition of the Odrysian state, King Phillip II of Macedon erected the castle around 340 BC that formed part of a wider fortification complex aiming at the defence of his territory. Due to its strategic importance, the castle has been used successively by Phillip V, Perseus, the Romans, the Thracians, and Justinian.

The fortified enceinte in the shape of an irregular trapezoid has a circuit of 245 m and at some points reaches a height of 3.5 m. The fortification is supported by 4 circular and 2 quadrangular towers belonging, like some parts of the enceinte as well, to different construction phases. The fortress has 5 gates. In the interior of the castle lies an important monument, a cistern in the shape of a skep. It is 12 meters deep, with a diameter of 8 meters and built with cornerstones. The inner masonry is covered with strong hydraulic mortar. It is constructed according to an admirable building technique and is considered as an excellent work of ancient mechanics and hydraulics.

The external gate, called the Priapus Gate, was named after the relief representation of the divinity that was found close to it. The big threshold is still visible as well as parts of the antae. The external gate led to an interior courtyard, where two twin gates stood as well as the wall bearing a worship niche.

Priapus was the god of Lampsacus, and the god of fertility. He was worshiped as the protector of vines and gardens. He was also believed to have the power to ward off the “evil eye”. All these magic qualities may explain to some extend why the god was considered as the protector of the fortress. The relief representation of Priapus dates back to the 2nd century BC. It is 49 cm high and it represents Priapus in old age and bearded, standing in front of the altar. He is holding a horn in his left hand and an effigy of what probably is a male genital organ, in his raised right hand. The tucked up tunic reveals the supernatural genital organ of the god who seems to wear high shoes.

The four towers together with the parts of the western, northwestern and eastern sides of the enceinte, the gates of the conch, the Priapus Gate and the cistern of the fortress belong to the first construction phase of the 4th century BC.

The second construction phase, less elaborated, comprises two towers and parts of the fortified enceinte and dates back to the 2nd century AD. The third and final construction phase contains some rough structures on the NE gate of the enceinte dating from the Justinian times (first half of the 6th century AD). More recent construction phases include parts over or near the earlier ones built roughly with old construction material, irregular stones and lime.

To date, almost the entire fortress has been uncovered.