Frangokastelo, Crete: A magnificent beach in south Chania, a centuries-old Venetian castle, and a place of legends.
Frangokastelo, Crete, is a small village in the south of Chania region, in Sfakia province. It is located about 70 kilometres south of Chania city and about 15 kilometres east of the capital of Sfakia province, Hora Sfakion.
In Frangokastelo, Crete, the two known sights that make the place especial, are the big Venetian castle, which is preserved in good condition, and the beautiful Frangokastelo beach.
The beach of Frangokastelo has crystal-clear waters, which are usually warm, and it is shallow, making it ideal for families with children.
Apart from the castle and the beach, Frangokastelo is a very good base for exploring Southwest Crete and the impressive White Mountains, or Lefka Ori in Sfakia province. The European Hiking Footpath E4 passes right through Frangokastelo.
Frangokastelo, Crete – the Venetian castle
Frangokastelo village took its name from its Venetian Castle. The castle, built in the 14th century from the Venetians, was called “Castel Franco”.
The castle in Frangokastelo, Crete, was built in order to protect the surrounding area from pirate raids, but also in order to enable the Venetians to control more efficiently the local Sfakian population, who is renowned for its love of freedom and independence. Indeed, the construction of the castle was greatly delayed due to the constant sabotages of the local resistance. It is notable that when the castle was finally completed, the Venetians hunted out furiously the leaders of the local rebels, and then hung them from the gates and the towers of the castle.
The Venetian castle in Frangokastelo has a rectangular shape with square towers at its four corners. Although it was very well built, it could not withstand the constant attacks of the local rebels, and certainly not the attack of the Ottomans, which took part at the beginning of the 19th century.
Frangokastelo, Crete, history – the castle, Hatzimihalis Dalianis, the legend, and Drosoulites.
Frangokastelo and its Venetian castle have many interesting stories in history associated with them. But the most famous of all is the one with Hatzimihalis Dalianis and Drosoulites.
In 1828, the Ottoman Empire attacked South Crete with a great and strong army. The small guard of the Venetians in the Frangokastelo castle abandoned it, avoiding to engage in a possibly lethal for them battle. The same didn’t hold true for Hatzimihalis Dalianis, a hero of the Greek revolution against the Ottoman Empire, and his men, a group of about 350 volunteers, who took over the castle.
The Ottoman army, with their leader, Moustafabei, besieged the castle for seven days. Finally, they managed to break the heroic resistance of the Greek rebels, and got into the castle, massacring all the revolutionists, including Dalianis himself.
After that historic battle, Mustafabei and their men thought they had greatly disorganized the local resistance, but they were wrong: When the Ottoman army tried to move from Frangokastelo to the north, following the gorges in the White Mountains of Crete, it suffered heavy casualties from the local rebels.
The historic battle in Frangokastelo took place in the end of May. During that period every year, many people have reported witnessing an interesting phenomenon: Shadows like silent soldiers are seen walking towards the castle in the morning, before they get lost into the sea. This mysterious phenomenon is called “Drosoulites” in Greek.
Many scientists have tried to solve this strange – and rare – “vision” in Frangokastelo, but they haven’t managed to find a logical explanation. Many psychics believe that the shadows are the ghosts of the castle warriors of Hatzimihalis Dalianis that were not buried, who wander around as shadow soldiers, as their soul cannot rest…
Frangokastelo is a place of legends and history in south Chania, with a spectacular centuries-old Venetian castle near its beautiful beach. Considering also the excellent location of the village for the visitor who wants to explore Southwest Crete, Frangokastelo is a place you have to experience.