Kassiopi Castle (Greek: Κάστρο Κασσιώπης) is a castle on the northeastern coast of Corfu overseeing the fishing village of Kassiopi, and was one of three castles which defended the island before the Venetian era (1401–1797). The castles formed a defensive triangle, with Gardiki guarding the island’s south, Kassiopi Castle the northeast and Angelokastro the northwest.
Its position at the northeastern coast of Corfu overseeing the Corfu Channel separating the island from the mainland gave the castle an important vantage point and an elevated strategic significance.
Kassiopi Castle is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands, along with Angelokastro, Gardiki Castle and the two Venetian Fortresses of Corfu City, the Citadel and the New Fort.
The exact origins of the castle are not clear, with various theories being advanced, but they appear to be Byzantine. During excavations in the two towers adjacent to the main gate as well as a third tower to the north side of the main gate bronze coins from the reigns of Byzantine emperors Maurice (582-602 AD) and Basil II (976-1025) were discovered.
In addition ceramic ostraca dating from the early Byzantine period, the 4th-7th centuries AD, were also unearthed. This leads to the conclusion that a Byzantine castle may have been built in the area by the 6th century AD, a date which is several centuries earlier than the currently estimated date of the castle’s construction.
In 1081 Count Bohemund of Taranto conquered the castle at the start of the first Norman invasion of Greece.
In 1084 the fortress fell into the hands of Alexios I Komnenos after he defeated the Norman fleet following three naval battles in the Corfu Channel. In 1267 the Angevins took over the castle and in 1386 the castle fell to the Venetians after some initial resistance.
The Venetians subsequently dismantled it, fearing it could be captured by their enemies or even by the locals and used against them.The consequence of the Venetian action was that during the Turkish sieges of Corfu in 1537 and 1761 the local people who could not escape were slaughtered or enslaved. By 1761 the Venetians decided to rebuild the castle, although most of the local population had already moved to other places including villages on the highlands of Mount Pantokrator.