Sunday, 21 June 2009

Colonel Charles Nicolas Fabvier's Fort

Colonel Charles Fabvier (1782 to 1855) was a French veteran of the Napoleonic war. A staunch supporter of revolution and a philhellene he was invited to Greece during the War of Independence (1821 to 1827) in order to train Greek troops in the art of modern Napoleonic warfare.

Due to the inexperienced troops he was given command of, Fabvier's early campaigns were not successful, but nevertheless he was persuaded by the Greek government to continue his training. The location he chose for this was Methena in the Agrolikos region of the Peloponnese which he defended by fortifying its isthmus to the mainland.

I have visited what I believe to be Fabvier's fort on the isthmus several times. It is approached from the village of Taktikopoli which was named by Fabvier himself and means the city of regulars. This refers to the regular troops he was training as apposed to the traditional guerrilla fighters of the Greek war.

There's no signposts to the fort or information, but that wouldn't be any fun would it?! As you leave the village of Taktikopoli towards Methena past a newly built church on your left the road turns sharp left on to the isthmus, the fort will be partially visible atop the hill, but don't attempt to traverse it yet. Rather than follow the long curving road round to the right to Methena, take the first left up a gravel track visible on the map that leads to a disused industrial site. Park up close to the junction and on foot double back on yourself toward Taktikopoli away from the road to follow the track to a tiny church about 50 meters from the junction. From the church you can reach the fort by following the track denoted by blue painted markers on the rocks for approximately 600 meters.

Once you reach the fort you will notice that it is more medieval in style than 19th Century, but this is probably a reflection on the budget that Colonel Fabvier would have received. Or perhaps he garrisoned an existing fortification?

Photographs by Mark Notaras, subject to Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons licence

The fort affords great views and it is easy to to imagine Fabvier's soldiers in training on the mountainous terrain of Methena, preparing to battle the Ottoman army of Ibrahim Pasha which had regained control of so much of Greece. It would be a portion of these troops who would famously breach the Ottoman siege of the Acropolis to resupply the Greek garrison with gunpowder. During this operation Fabvier ordered his soldiers to remove the flints from their muskets to ensure a swift and covert sortie.

As with all exploring in Greece you should take some precautions. Take plenty of water with you and wear trousers and sturdy shoes for protection from snakes and scorpions. Avoid exploring during the hottest part of the day and keep in the shade. I know you will treat the site with care if you visit.

Picture of Colonel Fabvier is from Wikimedia Commons

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