It would be easy to pass by this centuries-old, twice-abandoned pink tower without having any idea of its historical significance.
It’s believed the tower was built during the second Venetian occupation of Aegina, which lasted between 1687 and 1714. The Venetian rulers heavily fortified the city in anticipation of the Turks attempting a return siege, constructing a castle, fortified walls, and numerous watchtowers. One of these watchtowers was on the main road directly behind the harbor, known today as the Tower of Markellos (and to many, the “Pink Tower”).
After the return of the Turks in 1714, the harborside watchtower was abandoned and fell into a state of neglect, until the Revolutionary leader Spyridon Markellos bought it in 1802 and renovated it for use as his residence, giving the structure its new name. The renovated tower was built with three levels in traditional neoclassical style. The upper levels have a view to the harbor, with the front of the tower bordering a small park surrounded by a stone wall with shade trees and benches. It was one of the most prominent buildings on Aegina at the time, hosting many dignitaries at parties and celebrations.
Markellos was a strong proponent for Greek independence and a member of the resistance prior to the outbreak of war. When war was declared, he quickly joined the effort and allowed numerous politicians and military leaders to use his house. He was also recognized for his heroics in battle. Once Greece won its independence and Aegina was selected as the first capital of modern Greece, the Markellos Tower was selected as the headquarters of the temporary government committee, from 1826 to 1828, and the official seat of the government until the capital was moved to Nafplio by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first head of state of the newly liberated country.
The Markellos Tower then served as the police headquarters and housed various other government agencies until the middle of the 19th century, when the building was again abandoned and left to decay. The tower was eventually acquired by the municipality of Aegina, which partially renovated the historic building.
Know Before You Go
The interior of the tower is only open to visitors when there is an event taking place, which is not often. Today the building is the home of the Kapodistrian Cultural Center and Alexiou Centre for Social Issues and is sometimes used as a gallery space for art exhibitions. Located on the island of Aegina (also spelled Egina), one of the Saronic Islands.