Venetian Villa

De Mezzo

Villa De Mezzo in Etia
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Etia is an deserted medieval village, located near Lithines of Sitia province, which in its heyday was the largest village of the area with more than 500 residents. It is worth strolling among the Venetian buildings of the village. Here in the late 15th century, the Venetian master Pietro Dei Mezzo, who was the feudal lord of the surrounding area, built the mansion De Mezzo, known as Villa De Mezzo or Seraglio. It was one of the most glorious Venetian buildings in Crete. It had rectangular shape and three floors. Several rooms were vaulted (with arches) and the building was richly decorated and the blazon of De Mezzo family was prominent all over the mansion. A blazon was also located on the facade of the building.

The lord Dei Mezzo was hospitable, as evidenced by the inscription above the entrance Intra vostra signiora senza rispetto (Step in, without any inhibition). The entire chateau was fortified by walls and a large yard in the east side. On the east side of the courtyard, there was a fountain, which was channeled by the aqueduct in Kamaraki, 1.5km away. Outside of the wall, there were small fountains, for the travelers. When the Turks conquered the region of Sitia, the mansion fell into their hands and became the house of the senior Turkish official, who was given the surrounding area. Then, several more building were erected around the yard. In 1701, the Turks built the fountain mentioned above.

The last descendant of the Turkish officer was the renowned janissary Mehmet Aga or Memetakas or Seragianos. Memetakas, deputy commander of Sitia, was one of the most outrageous janissaries in Crete. It is said that he raped more than 100 Christian girls. His hedonistic life was the reason for being killed, in 1821 by the Pasha of Heraklion, following the orders of the Valide Sultana (Mother of Sultan). The mother of the hundredth girl, after the suicide of her daughter, visited and informed Sultana and she ordered a firman for the punishment of Memetakas.

In 1828, during the campaign of Gramvousa rebels against the Turks of Sitia Province, 600 armed men and 3000 women and children found shelter in the Seraglio in Etia. When they learned the tragic end of their compatriots in the tower of Lithines, they surrendered upon the promise that the Greeks will not hurt them and would move them in Asia Minor in peace. Indeed, the rebels forced them embark to Asia Minor, but an English ship set them free and returned them to Heraklion.

After ten years, the Christians destroyed the roof of the mansion and removed the timber. In the revolution of 1897, the Turks reused the tower and found shelter therein, in order to avoid the fury of the Christians who started massacring the Turks in the surrounding villages. Christians besieged the tower and the Turks were eventually moved to the monastery of Agia Sophia in Armeni, where they were all killed. Afterwards, the Greeks completely destroyed the tower and used its materials to build the main church of Etia. Today, this historic mansion has been included in a restoration program and a big part of it has been reconstructed.

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Additional Info

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