Prison – ammunition and food storage

 

The underground space, today known as prison, was initially a storage space for ammunition and food. It was not part of the initial structure built around 1425, but possibly built later on, as we can see from its location and difference in masonry. It was most likely built in the period of Suleiman the Magnificent, around 1520-1530. It was in that period that the external enclosure of the Acropolis was built and few other buildings were constructed in the internal enclosure.

The prison is a solid, rectangular construction, 22,80meters long and 10,40meters wide, adjacent to the northwest wall of the internal enclosure. The prison’s floor lays 3meters beneath the earth’s surface. The staircase that leads to the interior of the prison, has dimensions 7,20 meters length by 1,60 meters width. Small rectangular windows allow natural light inside the building. In front of the prison’s main gate, there used to be a small chamber (some ruins are still visible) protecting the building’s entrance.

Inside the prison, the existence of three big transversal beams and slots for another five, show that initially the space was divided into two parts with a wooden floor (it’s not verified that these two parts, that for some time coexisted in the same building, were actually the storage room and prison).

It’s certain that by late 17th century the acropolis was used as a place for exile and imprisonment of Sultan’s subjects. References mention many cases of both unknown and famous prisoners in the acropolis. For instance, in 1722 the fortress commander receives an order to imprison 5 rayahs from Thessaloniki, for creating problems in tax collection. In 1759 the pasha of Kavaja Ibrahim was deposed and “exiled” in the fortress of Kavala, with order of the Sultan. In 1792 the kotzampasis (local notable) Metaxas of Thassos was imprisoned, for an argument with the voevod of Lemnos. All of them were imprisoned in the big dark underground space, initially known as ammunition and food storage, later converted to a prison, as known till today.

The big dimension of the prison’s interior makes it suitable, with few minimal interventions, as a space for exhibitions and other cultural events.

 

The Fortress of Kavala is one of the few monuments in Greece operated by a Municipal Enterprise. DIMOFELIA is responsible for management, operation and promotion, and in cooperation with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Kavala - Thasos and the Municipality of Kavala implements related projects and interventions. The Fortress, also known as the Acropolis of Kavala, receives each year tens of thousands of visitors and is a symbol and a landmark for the city of Kavala through the centuries.
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