Chania Castles and Forts

Many forts and castles can be visited in the region of Chania. Dating from the Byzantine times onwards, they were constructed to defend the island from enemies and pirate invasions. The best-preserved ones were built by the Venetians, who ruled Crete from the 13th to the mid-17th century, as well as by the Ottomans who succeeded them.

A famous castle in southern Chania is Frangokastello, whose name means the castle of the Franks (as Cretans called the Venetians). Built in 1371, this castle is connected with the ghost story of Drosoulites, dead Cretan fighters who come out of the sea at dawn on some days of May, riding their horses.

Also famous is the Castle of Gramvoussa in Balos, built to protect the island from pirate incursions. Built on top of a very steep rock, this castle gives an amazing view of the Aegean Sea, while the fortress of Selino in Paleochora, in southern Chania, is also a typical example of Venetian architecture. In northern Chania, worth-visiting are the Turkish castles of Aptera and Izzedin, the latter of which was used as a prison for political prisoners till 1974. 

Driving around the prefecture of Chania, you will encounter even more such fortifications, nestled among the mountainous landscape of Chania. For instance, there is the castle of Malathyros in the area of Selino, the small forts of Askyfou in the area of Sfakia, and the fortress of Agia Roumeli. Overlooking the village of the same name, the fortress of Agia Roumeli stands right at the exit of the famous Samaria Gorge.