The Byzantines used to call castles, the towns that were surrounded by walls. Thus, according to this definition, we present the castles of Crete, with the greatest of all being the Big Castle of Candia (today’s Heraklion). There were several smaller fortified towns, such as Chania, Rethymnon, Sitia and Ierapetra.
The Castle of Candia (Heraklion)
The city of Heraklion, as a settlement, existed since 1000-950BC around the current Venetian port. This settlement, called Heraklion, was the seaport of Knossos.
The Castle of Chania
Chania is the most important town of western Crete, built on the eastern part of Chania bay, on the site of the ancient town of Cydonia. The town existed till late Byzantine period, when it was totally destroyed by the Saracens (828AD).
The Castle of Rethymno
Till the Byzantine Era, the modern city of Rethymnon was a small and insignificant dorp. This settlement was easily occupied by the Arabs, but became a town only during the Venetian Occupation.
The Castle of Sitia
Historians are unsure if ancient Sitia existed as a settlement on the site of the modern town, although there have been found Minoan graves, Geometric and Greek figurines, Roman buildings and a Christian basilica. It sure it existed during the First Byzantine, the Arab, the Second Byzantine and the Venetian Eras.
The Castle of Ierapetra
Ierapetra was not fortified by the Byzantines and the Venetians. Instead, it is the only town that was firstly fortified by the Turks, as they felt unsafe from the pressure of the local population. The wall of Ierapetra was low and circled the city only from the land, as the English traveler Spratt refers.
The small castle of Skalia, near Sitia
A small castle was located near the village Sitanos of Sitia Region, namely Skalia. Skalia was a small village with a few residents built atop a mountain slope, where the outer walls of the houses formed a wall that surrounded the village, while from the north it was protected by cliffs.