Cretan Forts

Agios
Stefanos

Agios Stefanos fort
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The village of Agios Stefanos (or Gra) in Sitia province, located between Pefki and Stavrohori villages, is built on a high hill. Atop the hill there is a rock which the locals call Kastellos or Fortezza, atop of which there are the ruins of a Venetian fortress.

The fort was probably built in the 16th century on the ruins of a former fortress, to ensure the sovereignty of the Venetians against the locals. The rock is naturally fortified as its surrounding edges have vertical cliffs, except the south side which is accessible. Today, only a narrow wall on the south side, 30m long and 2m high, and a small part of a tower survive.

According to a legend that links the fortress with the older name of Agios Stefanos (“Gra” meaning old woman), when the Saracens occupied the island, they besieged the fort but failed to conquer it. An old woman then betrayed the locals and indicated the only entrance to the fortress. They killed all people except the old woman, and since then the village was called Village of Gra, i.e. village of the old woman. Contrary to this, another tale suggests that once the mhaggres (Hagarenes) killed an old lady in the nearby position Lougara, because she did not betray the fortress.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Lassithi Prefecture
  • Type: Fortress / Tower
  • Peak Period: Venetian Era (1204 AD - 1669 AD)
  • Accessibility: Walking

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