Turkish Towers


Unknown Ottoman Towers in Crete
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Apart from the well known Turkish towers (kouledes) built after the Cretan Revolution in 1866, there are many more small towers of that era that are worth mentioning.


In the Province of Selino (the wider area of ​​Paleochora), more koules were built in Sougia, at Koustogerako, at Kefala in Rodovani (ancient Elyros), atStavros near Kandanos, at Moustakos and at Vigles. In Kissamos province, Turkish towers were built in Voukolies, in the position Larda, Kounoupitsas (which rebels blew up in 1897) and Xygokefalo near Mesogia. Lastly, the province of Cydonia was also full with towers. Only twelve towers were built in the area of ​​Lakki (positions Rizomata, Keratidi, Amygdali, Kato Savoure and Pano Savoure, Kefala, Bourmpadokefala, Kopanistra, Kserokefala, Lapa, Afaragia, Lagoudokefala and Xylokastro). The fortification of Lakki was completed by the koule in Porsela, Prases, Kefala, Nea Roumata, Adamis, Meskla, Tsarmenika, Lasides near Therisso, Prophet Elijah, Skonizou, Kyrtomado, Alikianos, Keramia and Malaxa. Refering to each one of them separately is very difficult, if not impossible.


The most important passage of Rethymnon prefecture was that of Agios Vasilios (to the south), through where the Ottomans and the Greeks traveled from Mesara plane to Sfakia area. Thus, several towers (kouledes) were built after 1866. Amari Valley is an internal passage of the prefecture of Rethymno, which is a continuation of the valley of Potami, where the most bloodthirsty Turks, called Ampadiotes, lived. This wide passage, which through small branches led to Messara, was soon fortified by the Turks. In the valley of Potami there were the towers of Prases, Potami and Patsos. At the entrance of the valley of Amari, at the point where it is separated by the valley of Potami, the Turks built the Koules of Apostoli - Meronas. On the eastern edge of the valley of Amari, two more towers were built, the koule of Vathiakos and Lochria. The Koules of Lochria was built on a rocky hill east of the village, a short distance from it. It was used for transfering messages to the rest towers of the small valley of Kamares. It is almost totally destroyed, to an extent that someone can barely distinguish the outline of its base.

Towers were also built in the province of Milopotamos covering the passages of Axos and Fodele. Through the first passage, the hordes of the Turks firstly headed to Candia (current Heraklion city) during the Cretan War (1645-1669) and several times later from 1821 to 1898. Thus, it is expected that they built several towers there. The most famous of them are the koules of Krioneri, Flamoura and Armos (Garazo). The tower of Krioneri is located in the borders of the villages Axos and Kryoneri, in a very beautiful spot that belongs to the monastery of Chalepa. Today a tank has been built on the site, watering Anogia town, and only a small part of the old fort survives. Another koule, that of Astali, was built above the bay of Bali to control the passage and the beach. In the position Pirgos, the Turks set up their tower, known as Bourbadopirgo or Koules. The Germans blew it up because was used as a reference to the allied planes.


The Turks built several towers in the Prefecture of Heraklion, mainly in the plain of Messara, but also in the other passages of the county. Indeed, the area of ​​Messara was a strongly guarded area. The passages leading to it were all fortified with series of towers, so that Messara could not communicate with the neighboring areas. In the small valley of Kamares - Grigoria - Magarikari were the Koules of Grammeni and the Koules of Kremastos. Kremastos was located between Grigoria and Kamares, on a hill east of the existing road, so as to transfer the messages to the koule of Zaros.

Another koule prevented the communication of the province Malevyzi with the province of Temenos and the Messara plain. It's the big Koule of Raftis near Ano Moulia, lying east of the homonym village, which dominates the entire area. It is preserved in quite good condition and a part of it is still used as a stable. Another koule was built on the hill north of Mires town, but today public buildings have been built on the site.

In order to move from Heraklion to Lasithi prefecture, there were two passages. One is the south passage of Viannos and the second is the passage of Selena Mount. The passages to the Lasithi plateau was almost inaccessible. One of the Viannos towers was the koules of Riza. Remains of it are still surviving east of Viannos, in the place where the Germans executed the residents of the area in September 1943. The main body of koules has dimensions 14x7m. Another tower was the tower of Panorama, ruins of which survive.


The Isthmus of Ierapetra, from Pahia Ammos to Ierapetra city, was a very important key passage in Lasithi prefecture. The fortification of this passage thus controlled the relations of the provinces of Mirabello and Ierapetra, while isolated the province of Sitia. Thus, the Turks built the koules of Pahia Ammos, Vasiliki, Episkopi and Kendri. The small koule of Pahia Ammos was built in the position Chalepa, east of the village, and is in quite good condition. Its purpose was mainly to control the local bay and the whole Mirabello Gulf, and communicate with the tower of the Vasiliki. The koule of Vasiliki was located south of the homonym village, on the hill next to which important antiquities have been excavated, and is accessed by road. It is small (7x7m) and its aim was to transfer the messages from Pahia Ammos to the koule of Episkopi. The koule of Kentri was built on the site of the current school of the village, without any trace of it surviving. In the province of Sitia, the Turks did not built koules, as there were many Venetian forts and towers already, which could serve their needs. Another koule was built in Males village near Mirtos, which controlled the northern part of the river SarantapichosSarantapichos.

Additional Info

  • Type: Fortress / Tower
  • Peak Period: Ottoman Era (1669 - 1898)

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