Tamassos is an archaeological site which lies under the modern villages of Politiko, Pera and Episkopio. Visible today in the large site are the temple of Aphrodite, two majestic royal tombs as well as several smaller ones. It seems that Tamasos was founded around the 8th century B.C., in an area which was already inhabited from the Late Bronze Age, and until the first half of the 7th century it had developed into an important city-kingdom of Cyprus. From its foundation until the Roman period the town prospered greatly due to the exploitation of the mines in its environs.
In the second half of the 4th century the king of Tamasos, Pasikypros, sold the city to the king of Kition, Poumiathon, and Tamasos therefore came under the ownership of the Phoenicians. The domination of the Phoenicians did not last very long since Tamasos along with her mines had been conceded to the kingdom of Salamis until the final abolition of the kingdoms by the Ptolemy kings in 312-311 B.C. Apart from the fact that in the first half of the 1st century A.D. Tamassos became one of the Christian bishoprics of Cyprus, the city did not play an important role during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The first excavations at the site took place in 1889, 1890 and 1894 by Ohnefalsch Richter, who excavated many tombs of the Late Bronze Age and three royal tombs of the Cypro-Archaic period, of which only two survive today. The tombs were carved in such a way that their construction resembles a wooden building with a pediment. Adjacent to these tombs the Department of Antiquities brought to light (in 1997) six intact limestone sculptures (two sphinxes and four lions), which probably protected the entrance of these tombs. The sculptures are exhibited today in the Cyprus Museum (Lefkosia). Three more tombs, the first dating to the Bronze Age, the second to the Archaic period and the third to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, have been excavated in and around the actual village of Politiko.
During the excavations carried out in 1970-1980 by the German Archaeological Institute under the direction of Hans-Gunter Buchholz, part of the strong defensive wall surrounding the city during the Archaic period was uncovered as well as part of the ancient city with shrines and installations for the exploitation of bronze. The temple of Aphrodite and the temple of the Mother Goddess, identified as Cybele, were constructed in the Cypro-Archaic II period and were destroyed during the revolt against the Persians in the beginning of the 5th century B.C. Towards the end of the 4th century these were rebuilt with a different architectural plan. It seems that there were many more shrines around Tamasos but these have not yet been uncovered.
During the Early Christian period a large three aisled basilica was erected upon the burial place of Saint Herakleidios, southeast of ancient Tamassos, in honour of its first bishop. This basilica fell into ruins and many other churches were constructed in its place until the church took its final form in 1773. Today the church is part of a convent.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.