The Castle of Antimachia is situated on a plateau, in the center of the island and SE of the village of Antimachia. It is surrounded by a number of ravines and rough terrain, overlooking the Kardamaina and the southern shore of Kos. The fortress rests on the elevation’s rocks on its eastern and southern side and the fortification walls follow the natural configuration of the ground without any special fortified tower. It is built with regular layers of rough stones, separated by layers of lime, sheer stones and deep slanting embrasures.
The castle of Antimachia was rather small when it was initially built in the 14th century and was nearly abandoned. After the 1493 earthquake the knights of Saint John refortified the castle of Antimachia, probably because it had withstood the tremors much better than the island’s other strongholds. They mainly focused on the curtain walls (i.e. the walls between the bastions), strengthening the perimetric walls at their foundation with additional scarped walls, especially on the western side. They also added a great semi circular bastion in front of the unique entrance, in essence creating a barbican with the intention of repelling any invader. This architectural feature is very rare if not unique. A small stairway leads to outer entrance of the bastion, situated on its East side, where the rear guts of a drawbridge are still visible. Immediately to the left rises the large rectangular castle gate, with an arched interior. The arms of the Grand Master d’Aurbusson and the date of 1494 are inscribed on a cartouche situated above the second of the double entrance doors. The fortification efforts were concentrated on the northern side as that was viewed as the weakest, the south side being on the edge of a natural cliff.
Inside the castle of Antimachia you will encounter a vast space and see a lot of cisterns. There are also two church buildings that have survived in very good condition, the Church of Aghios Nikolaos (dating from the 16th century) and the church of Aghia Paraskevi (18th century). You can also see the remains of the church of St Mary the Elemonitria. The castle of Antimachia was believed to be a place of refuge for the indigenous population of the nearby villages during the Ottoman period, since pirate raids used to be quite common in the 15th and 16th century. Its heroic resistance during the Turkish siege of 1457 was recorded in detail in a letter the Gran Master of Rhodes addressed to the Venetian Authority of Crete.
After the outbreak of the Greek revolution in 1821, the Turks forcibly drove out the Greek population of old Antimaheia from the fort, making them take shelter northward toward the plateau, while some families turned southward toward the small valley not far from the sea. Thus the new village of Antimaheia was formed, with its four quarters (Agioi Apostoloi, Skordalous, Proskynima and Vallari), while the settlement that is nowadays called Palaia (old) Kardamena was founded in the south, which remained communally incorporated into Antimaheia.
Today, the fortress is generally speaking in a rather good state overall although it could use some renovating in some parts. Occasional cultural events are organised within the castle walls.
To reach it from Mastichari you will have to get to the Antimachia roundabout (not the airport one) and take the road to Kos. A few kilometers down the road you will see a military compound on your right and just after that you will find a road that will lead you straight to the castle. There is also a sign so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting to it. For the very courageous ones there is a path that goes up to the castle of Antimachia from Kardamaina, which takes roughly from half to three quarter of an hour. The view is it seems well worth it. During the summer months I would recommend that you avoid visiting around midday as the heat would be unbearable.