Cretan Forts

Fragokastelo

Fragokastelo Fortress
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Small, well-preserved, leaning on the edge of a desert plain of the Libyan Sea in Sfakia around the mountains, Fragokastelo unfolds even today the skein of history, a story full of memories and mysteries. The "castle of Drosoulites" was built by the Venetians in the period 1371-1374, aiming to protect them from Sfakians, who were lead by the six brothers Patsis who constantly bothered occupiers, who could not complete the project. Other Venetians killed the six brothers by treason, according to tradition. On the other hand, in order to gain time, Venetians used for the construction of the fortress ready carved stones from the adjacent Nikita ruined ancient city.

In the place of the ancient Nikita, the chapel of Agios Nikitas is also preserved since then (1371) and every year on September 15th, sport games are organised in the area. The fortress had been called initially "Castel of St. Nikita" but Sfakians, equating Venetians with the Franks used the term Fragokastelo, which ultimately prevailed as the name even among the Venetians (Castel franco). Despite its strategic importance and despite the renovations or repairs (eg 1593-7 by the General Intendant Nicolo Dona), the fortress does not appear to have played an important role in the subsequent history, perhaps not, and it was abandoned at the end by the Venetians (1669). However, in Fragokastelo did Turks install their headquarters during the last phase of the revolution of the sfakian chieftain Daskalogiannis and led him there when he decided to surrender to ensure, as he thought, the independence of his homeland in 1770.

Today the fortress is not very different from its original form. It consists of four square towers, connected by walls, forming a rectangular fort. Over the towers were battlements for the fighting soldiers. There is a small, arched entrance on the east side, and another main gateway on the south side, which is decorated with carved coats of arms of noble families. Above the entrance is the winged lion of St. Mark, the emblem of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. The southwest tower is higher than others. It was the most important because it was the last position of defense, if the castle was besieged and protected the main gate. Along the interior walls there are poorly preserved rectangular buildings, which served as stables, storehouses, barracks etc. The last reconstruction was made by Nylon Passas, who in 1828 defeated Hatzimihali Dalianis, in the Battle of Fragokastelo.

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Additional Info

  • Prefecture: Chania
  • Type: Fortress / Tower
  • Peak Period: Venetian Era (1204 AD - 1669 AD)
  • Accessibility: Bus services
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