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Venetian and Byzantine Forts around the Island

The church of Agios Mamas, Kyriakoselia
The church of Agios Mamas, Kyriakoselia
One of the most spectacular Venetian castles and a location reputed to have been a pirates’ stronghold is the castle on the small island of Imeri Gramvousa, opposite the north tip of the hersonisos (peninsula) of Gramvousa, Kissamos. The fort occupies the top of a rocky promontory, its walls rising abruptly from the sea and it commands majestic views from its site. Between the island and the cape there is a small boat anchorage in the event of bad weather.
The well-preserved Venetian fort of Frangokastello, near Sfakia in southern Crete is beside the sea and has the Lefka Ori dropping abruptly behind it. Frangokastello is associated with the Cretan revolution of Chrisomalousa against the Venetians and with the heroic battles of Greeks against the Turks in 1828.
Several other Venetian castles may be found on Crete, such as Itzedin, above Souda Bay in Chania, the castles of Ierapetra, Sitia, Spinalonga, and the island of Souda.
In some cases a castle was Byzantine and was also used in the Venetian era. The remains of the extensive fortifications of Profitis Ilias (Kanli Kastelli), Polirinia, Kissamos, are Byzantine with Venetian additions. Nearby in Polirinia are also the remains of very large Greek walls beside a Byzantine church with ancient Greek inscriptions on its stones. The fort of Kyriakoselia in Apokoronas, was also a Byzantine fort which passed to the Venetians.
The Turks used the Venetian castles and constructed new ones, usually of smaller size, in order to maintain communication across the island and to protect themselves from the Cretans. The castles of Aptera, Agia Roumeli and the Kouledes of the Askifou Plateau are such examples.

Photos of Venetian and Byzantine Forts around the Island:


The Venetian fort in Souda Bay
The Venetian fort in Souda Bay
Ierapetra harbour and the Venetian fort
Ierapetra harbour and the Venetian fort
The Venetian fort of Frangokastello
The Venetian fort of Frangokastello
Askifou Plateau
Askifou Plateau
Agia Roumeli the village at the end of Samaria Gorge
Agia Roumeli the village at the end of Samaria Gorge
The Venetian fort of Spinalonga
The Venetian fort of Spinalonga
Walls of the fortifications and Kissamos Bay, Polirinia
Walls of the fortifications and Kissamos Bay, Polirinia
Kanli Kastelli - the double peaked mountain near ancient Lycastos
Kanli Kastelli - the double peaked mountain near ancient Lycastos
The Turkish castle in Aptera, overlooking Souda Bay
The Turkish castle in Aptera, overlooking Souda Bay
Imeri Gramvousa
Imeri Gramvousa
The Venetian fort and the city of Sitia
The Venetian fort and the city of Sitia
The church of Agios Mamas, Kyriakoselia
The church of Agios Mamas, Kyriakoselia

 

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