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The cliff-top settlement of Kastro embodies SifNÓS ’ storied past and unique charm like no other village on the island: perched on a hilltop next to the sea, the town has been inhabited for over 3,000 years. Its latest incarnation takes the form of a fortress centred on a medieval castle built during the island’s Frankish occupation in the 15th and 16th centuries, which the town takes its name from (Kastro in Greek means castle). Featuring massive perimeter walls integrated into the houses and five tunnel-like entrances, the town is an enchanting setting of beautiful two-storey houses, stately Venetian mansions and Ottoman-era churches connected by a labyrinthic network of cobbled alleyways, arched passageways and wooden bridges that transport visitors back in time. And if that wasn’t spectacular enough, hovering above the Aegean atop a rocky islet at the foot of the town, the Chapel of the Seven Martyrs is perhaps the most photographed site on the island.
What makes the town as complex in sensibility as in layout is its lengthy history: Kastro is built on the ruins of the island’s ancient capital as the ruins of the acropolis, still visible at the top of the hill, attest. In fact, ancient wall fragments, Hellenistic columns and Roman sarcophagi are scattered throughout the town, often repurposed as building materials. For a more detailed overview of Kastro’s storied past, head to the Archaeological Museum of SifNÓS located in the town centre which showcases collections of sculptural artefacts such as headstones and statues that date from the Archaic to the Roman period, as well as pottery found in the castle ruins.