Santa Maura stands guard on Lefkas
Lefkas castle one of the most impressive of its era.
The impressive Castle of Agia Mavra, also called Santa Maura, stands sentinel over Lefkas island guarding the gateway across the Drepanos channel.
Constructed originally in 1300 by Frankish knights who conquered the island, the fortress has suffered greatly over the years not only from sieges and earthquakes but from bombing by the Italians in World War Two.
Fortunately the castle has undergone total renovation in recent years and what remains today is very well preserved and there is much for visitors to enjoy.
In its heyday, the huge thick walls of Santa Maura castle enclosed many large squares and fine buildings that included churches, schools, a hospital, an army barracks and government buildings for Lefkas island.
Indeed, it was once considered so important that the whole island of Lefkas was named Santa Maura and it was even named as such on ancient maps.
Although much inside the castle walls is in ruins, tourists today can still enjoy the beautiful church of Agia Mavra, built inside the castle walls in the 15th century.
Soon after the church was built, the island was overtaken by the Ottomans and the church, dedicated to Agia Mavra, was turned into a mosque.
It was the invaders' leader Sultan Bagiazit oversaw the construction of an aqueduct and a bridge connecting the city of Lefkada with the castle.
This arcade-shaped bridge had 360 rooms built on it and it crossed the lagoon from the coast to Kalkani. Unfortunately the bridge was destroyed by an earthquake. The ruins of the bridge can still be seen at the bottom of the lagoon
Both Venetians and Ottomans fought fiercely over the island of Lefkas and it changed hands many times. In 1500, it was in Venetian hands and they carried out large scale works on the castle when it was considered one of the most impressive castles of its era.
The castle was destroyed by the fire in 1888 and it became a refugee camp after its renovation. During the World War Two the Castle of Agia Mavra suffered severe bombardment by Italians and many of its buildings were destroyed by bombs.
Today the castle is open to tourists and it attracts large numbers of visitors every year and it also plays host to various cultural festival events during the summer holiday season.
Many holiday visitors like to tour the castle walls and bastions, a walk best enjoyed at sunset with views over Lefkada Town and the lagoon.