The castle of Bouka (Greek: Κάστρο της Μπούκας, from the Italian word bocca) was the first major Ottoman fortification of Preveza, in northwestern Greece. It was constructed by the Ottomans in 1478, in order to control the straits of the Ambracian Gulf. In 1701, the Venetians blew the castle up before they handed Preveza over to the Ottomans, according to the terms of the Treaty of Karlowitz.
|Castle of Bouka|
The castle of Bouka was standing upon the site which today is called "Paliosaraga" (Παλιοσάραγα, "Old Seraglio"). The summer seraglio of Ali Pasha of Yannina was built on the castle's remains, during the early 1810s. After Preveza's liberation by the Greek Army in 1912, an army supply unit was based on the site of the castle. Today, there are very few remains of the castle of Bouka, despite the fact that the site has generally not been built up.
The castle was built by the Ottomans in 1478, fifteen years after their definite occupation of the region of Preveza and Riniassa. The date of the castle's construction is also mentioned in the Short Chronicle number 71.7: ἔκτισεν τὴν Πρέβεζαν ἐπὶ ἔτους ‚ςϡπς΄, "he fortified Preveza in the year 6986 [Anno Mundi]". The year 6986 Anno Mundi corresponds to 1.9.1477-31.8.1478 in the Gregorian calendar. The construction of the castle at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf was immediately recognized by Leonardo III Tocco, Count of Cephalonia, in a manuscript letter written on 31 March 1478, as a danger for the Republic of Venice. Because of this, he sent his relative, Bogordo di Tocco, to Venice in order to seek its assistance. In this letter the castle is mentioned as "castello ala bucca delo gulfo" ("castle at the mouth/entrance of the gulf"). During the first Ottoman years, the castle became known as Preveze kalesi, and eventually gave its name to the small human settlement which was formed north of the castle. The first time that the name Preveza has been recorded on a clearly dated document is in a letter by f. Leonardo Michiel of Corfu, in 1481.
The castle was presumably strengthened by the Ottomans in 1486-87, as well as in 1495 in order to ward off the imminent danger from the West, due to the conquering plans of the French king Charles VIII, which, however, were eventually abandoned. The castle was also improved in 1530, in 1553 during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, and by the Venetians, after they conquered Preveza, in 1684.
When the great Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi visited Preveza, around 1670, he described Bouka as a castle guarded by a garrison of 250 soldiers, with narrow streets, and about 100 small houses without gardens, as well as a mosque constructed by Sultan Süleyman I (r. 1520-66). Outside the walls of the castle were 300 large houses with gardens and a bazaar with 100 shops.
The castle was demolished by the Venetians in 1701, before surrendering the area to the Ottomans, in accordance to the provisions of the Treaty of Karlowitz and other bilateral agreements. Immediately after the demolition of the castle of Bouka and the handing over of Preveza, the Ottomans started constructing a large castle in order to defend the town and the straits of the Ambracian Gulf. The new stronghold was built one kilometre north of the demolished castle, at a distance of a cannon-shot from it, and it is now known as St. Andrew's Castle (its name during the late Ottoman times was Iç Kale).
Woodcut of the Castle of Bouka by Francesco Genesio, 1538
Plan of the castle of Bouka. Engraving by Giovanni Orlandi, 1605
Etching of the Castle of Bouka by Giuseppe Longhi, 1684 c.
Woodcut of the Castle of Bouka by Leonhard Loschge, 1687
Etching of the Castle of Bouka by Johann Andreas Thelott, 1701
Detail of an oil painting by an unknown artist, c. 1690
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