Gramvoussa castle

Location: Balos   

The Castle of Gramvoussa in Chania, Crete: On the western side of Crete, on top of the remote island of Gramvoussa, there is an impressive castle dating from the Medieval times. This castle was constructed in 1579 by the Venetians, who had conquered Crete that period, and the construction was based on the plans of Latino Orsini. The shape of the castle is irregular with walls and ramparts from three sides, while it has unapproachable rocks on the northern side.

The only way up to the castle is from the eastern side, where there is a narrow track leading to the main gate. This abrupt location was the reason that made the castle an important strategic point. From the Castle of Gamvoussa, also known as the Castle of Pirates, the Venetians could control the seaway between Crete and Antikythira, guarding the island from pirates and enemies.

In 1692, the castle was handed by betrayal to the Turks, who kept it under their occupation till the Greek revolution of 1821. This is when the castle was occupied by the Greek revolutionists, who gradually became pirates and made raids for finding food. After the liberation of Crete, the castle passed to the Greek government.

Inside the castle walls, there are underground cisterns, ruined buildings, a church dedicated to the Annunciation of Virgin and a powder storage that was later used as a mosque. The way up to the castle is difficult due to the rocky landscape, but the view to the Aegean Sea is breathtaking.

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