Cretan Forts


Castel Bonifacio (Monofatsi Fort)
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The Fort Bonifacio or Apano Castelli is located west of the current village Tsifout Kastelli, 44km south of Heraklion, on a hill now called Apano Kasteli or Psilo Aloni. The fort is reported since 1212, but was built by the Genoese pirate Henry Pescatore for securing Genoese rule over Crete.

Pescatore named it Castel Bonifacio, like the homonym fort in Corsica, which was built by Bonifacio Pisano and was conquered by the Genoese in 1195. When the Venetians evicted Pescatore from Crete in 1211 and Bonifacio fell into their hands, they considered it very important, thus they repaired it and housed the Castellan of Bonifacio.

In 1230, Bonifacio fort became a target of the rebels participating in the Revolution of Skordilis and Melissinos. The rebels, under the commands of the Byzantines, occupied several forts of Crete, but they failed to occupy Bonifacio, as they faced strong resistance from the Venetian Cataldo Avonale.

Later, however, the fort lost its importance and was abandoned. Below the fort the present village was built, which in a document of 1375 is named Casale Prope Castellum, i.e .village near the fort. The village changed two more names, Bonifacio Proprio and Nefs Monoface, to conclude with the current name Tsifout Castelli, as it was inhabited by Jews (Tsifout means Jew in Turkish)

The current province of Monofatsi takes its name after the fort. The fort was fortified with walls, interrupted by square towers. A tower protected the main gate on the south side and another tower dominated at the highest point of the castle. Today the fortress is destroyed, with only a few walls still standing. Inside the fort, there is still the paved path leading to its center where you can still see the remains of some buildings, a domed church and a large water tank.

Vourvoulitis Fort

South of the village Vourvoulitis, near Messara valley, there is a small plateau of 5 acres, fortified with high walls. The locals call it Makry Tichos (Long Wall) and it seems to have played an important role in controlling the passage to Messara.

Armyrohori FORT

In Armyrochori of Monofatsi Province, there is a small fort, which’s ruins are still visible atop a hill above the settlement Keratokefali near the village Agia Varvara. The hill is located just opposite the fort of Vourvoulitis.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Fortress / Tower
  • Peak Period: Venetian Era (1204 AD - 1669 AD)
  • Accessibility: Dirt track

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