Whether in harsh sunlight or under floodlights at night, the Palamidi fortress is a beautiful sight, with red-stone bastions and flights of steps that zigzag down the 700-foot-tall cliff face. You can drive up the less-precipitous eastern slope, but if you are in reasonable shape and it isn't too hot, try climbing the stairs. Most guidebooks will tell you there are 999 of them, but 892 is closer to the mark. From the top you can look down on the Old Town and the entire Argive plain beyond and also look across the gulf to Argos or down its length to the Aegean.
Built in 1711–14, the Palamidi comprises three forts and a series of freestanding and connecting defensive walls. The name is taken from the son of Poseidon, Palamedes, who, legend has it, invented dice, arithmetic, and some of the Greek alphabet. Sculpted in gray stone, the lion of St. Mark looks outward from the gates. The Palamidi fell to the Turks in 1715 after only eight days, allegedly because the Venetians assumed the fortress was impregnable and saw no need to garrison a large number of troops within the walls. After the war, the fortress was used as a prison; its inmates included the revolutionary war hero Theodore Kolokotronis; a sign indicates his cell.