Chania Frangokastello Fortress

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Location: Frangokastello

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Frangokastello fortress in Chania is an important historical monument in the region of Chania, Crete. This castle was built between the period 1371-1374 BC. The construction work was started by the Venetians, who had conquered Crete at that time. In fact, this castle was set up to maintain a military base for the Venetian army. Apart from protecting the area and the properties of the noblemen from pirates and enemy attacks, this castle would also be used as a base for attacks in the island of Crete, who was still resisting to the Venetian conquerors.

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At first, the castle was named Castle of Saint Nikitas to honor a close church, but later it was named Frangokastello by the locals, which means the Castle of the Franks (Venetians). During its construction, men from Sfakia used to evade in the area and destroy all the recent constructions, so that the Venetians will not have an invasion base to move towards the inland. However, one night, the soldiers from Skakia led by Patsos brothers were trapped and hanged a bit later.

The Venetians constructed Frangokastello in a rectangular shape. They built strong and massive towers at each of the four corners. On the gigantic gate, they built a coat of arms symbolizing the Venetian bravery. However, all the buildings and fortifications that we see today inside the castle walls were completed by the Turks during the Ottoman rule (17th-19th centuries).

Another legend connected to Frangokastello is the story of Drossoulites. In 1828, the Cretans had revolved against the Turks and 600 men from Epirus under Hatzi Michalis Dalianis had come to help the Cretan Revolution. In May 1828, they locked themselves in Frangokastello, rejecting the advice of the Cretans that this was not a safe location. Outside the walls, there were 8,000 Turkish soldiers fighting them. After a week, on May 17th, 1828, the Turks managed to enter the castle and 335 Greeks were killed. However, their bodies were left unburied, until a strong sand dune covered them.

The local legend says that since then, every May, the dead soldiers of Dalianis appear again. They rise from the sand and go towards the sea, where they disappear in the water. This always happens in May, very early in the morning, about 10 minutes after sunrise. As these ghosts appear with the morning dew, they have been named Dew Men, or Drossoulites in Greek. Scientists say that they are reflections of the sun rays, however, many people have reported seeing these ghosts.

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