Much of Assos history revolves around the castle during the Medieval period when Kefalonia was under the Venetian dominion.
Plans to built the castle at Assos commenced in 1584 when the Kefalonian council sent a delegation to Venice, asking for the creation of a new fortress to protect the people from Turkish and piratical raids. In the event of a war or imminent pirate attack, the villagers would then be able to seek refuge within the fortress compound.
The Venetian’s aim was to create a powerful fortress-city,inside which a population of the community would permanently reside.
Agios Georgios was the only castle in the island at the time,but it didn’t provide adequate defence for the island , and so it was that the Assos peninsula was chosen as the location of the new castle. It was considered that the sheer cliff drops of the peninsula with aheight of 155 metres made the area naturally fort-like and virtually unconquerable. Contraction started in 1593 and the fortress was rapidly completed soon after 1595. Shortly after the castle was built. Assos became the capital of the northern Kefalonia for a few years.
The fortress at Assos has been designated a European Heritage Site.
Inside the castle just opposite the main domed entrance are the ruins of the catholic church of St Marcus. Just next to the southern side entrance of the castle is an old white building in ruins. This used to be the prisons guard’s quarters. At the centre of the castle grounds are new buildings which are a reconstruction of the old prison building.
The local municipality recently received EU funding to develop the old prison site within the compound. At present the reconstructed prison buildings are used for large conferences.
Within are rooms to accommodate guests and a gallery hosting works of local Kefalonian artists. As contraction is still taking place, the newly erected prison site isn’t yet open to public.