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Frangokastello Fortress - Crete

The imposing Venetian fortress of Frangokastello dates back to the 14th century and is one of the oldest on the island of Crete. The fortress is located off the southern coast of the island, in the province of Chania.

The fortress of Frangokastello was built by the Venetians in 1371 mainly as a protection against pirate raids and also against local rebels who refused to submit. The fortress has the typical appearance of the defensive buildings of the time - a rectangular plan and massive battlements with battlements, reinforced in the corners by defensive towers. The remains of these walls are still in good condition today. Even the coat of arms of the Venetian builders, the Venetian lion of St Mark, has been preserved above the main entrance of the castle. In the inner part of the fortress, however, only the foundations of the individual buildings are visible.

The castle was originally named after Saint Nikitas (the nearby church of Agios Nikitas is dedicated to him today), but the local Cretans renamed it "Franco" and later "Frangokastello". The Greeks generally use the word "Franks" to refer to all Western Europeans. In 1593 the fortress underwent a major restoration, which was led by the Venetian commander Nicolo Dona. But despite its good strategic position and continuous renovations, the fortress gradually lost its importance and was abandoned for some time.

In 1770, the Cretan rebel leader Ioannis Vlachos, known as Daskalogiannis, was arrested in the castle by Ottoman soldiers and executed a year later in the city of Kandiya (today's Heraklion). The international airport of Chania was named in his memory.

In May 1828, a major battle took place here, which was the culmination of a local anti-Turkish uprising. The castle was occupied by Greeks, mainly men from nearby Chora Sfakion under the leadership of H. Dalianis. However, the Turkish commander Mustafabey called for reinforcements and during a siege lasting several days the Turks captured the fortress and slaughtered all the rebels. It is reported that 385 fighters, including their leader, were killed in the fortress, but the Turkish army of about 8,000 men also suffered considerable losses. Some 800 Turkish soldiers were said to have been killed in the fighting in the local gorges.

There is an interesting legend connected with this famous battle of Frangokastello, called the "Drosoulites". On several occasions, shadows of human figures, whole groups of mounted and foot soldiers, have been seen moving along the coast and around the castle of Frangokastello. The Cretans believe that these are the souls of fallen warriors who were buried in the sandy shore around the fortress after the battle. However, since these shadows appear repeatedly (most often in early May) and many people may have seen them, people are also looking for a scientific explanation for this phenomenon. Some have come up with the theory that it is a phenomenon called "mirage" transmitting images from the coast of North Africa (due to the mirroring of the air over the Libyan Sea).

The famous fortress gave its name to the entire village of Frangokastello, including the beautiful, sandy beach of Frangokastello. The resort is located about 80 km southeast of the city of Chania and 15 km east of the nearby tourist resort of Chora Sfakion.

More touristic destinations of Crete

Most favourite sights of Crete: Agia Triada (archaeological site), Archaeological Museum Heraklion, Phaistos (archaeological site), Gortyn (archaeological site), Arkadi Monastery, Knossos (archaeological site), Church of Four Martyrs, Fortezza Fortress (Rethymno), Frangokastello Fortress, Spinalonga Fortress, Windmills on Lasithi Plateau

Resorts, beaches, sights or trips - clearly listed on the map of Crete.

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