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Castel Paleocastro

  • Castel Paleocastro


About Castel Paleocastro

The Paliokastro Venetian fortress can be found 14km west of Heraklion, on the western side of Heraklion Bay. Presently, only a portion of the triangular fort’s walls remain. It was constructed on a large, tall rock near the Heraklion-Chania highway, and it is believed to have been the acropolis of the ancient town of Kytaeon.

In 1204, Genoese Enrico Pescatore conquered Crete and built 14 forts to safeguard the island from invaders. Among these was the Paliokastro fort, which effectively protected Heraklion Bay and made it difficult for enemies to land on nearby shores. The Genoese believed this castle to be of great importance, so when the Venetians took control of Crete, they retained only this castle. However, they were forced to abandon the island in 1211.

At the start of the Venetian Era, the castle’s significance diminished as the Bay of Heraklion could now be protected by Venetian ships. However, when the Ottomans threatened Venice, the castle regained its importance. As a result, between 1573 and 1595, the old castle was rebuilt, along with many other castles on the island. The bay’s castles could then control the entire region, with cannon shots from Paliokastro intersecting with those from the Saint Andrew ramparts in Heraklion Walls.

The castle featured sloping walls and three uneven levels. The main gate was situated on the southern edge of the castle, leading to the lower square which housed numerous small rooms. One of these rooms still contains a small church dedicated to Saint Mark (celebrated on Easter Tuesday), constructed from the castle’s ruins. To the north of the castle, there was an armory with sturdy and robust walls, adjacent to a water tank. Upon entering, a staircase led to the second level where the barracks were located. The upper level was home to the castle’s church. The winged lion of Saint Mark, the emblem of Venice, could be seen on the northeastern corner of the castle. The fort remained under Venetian control until the final years of the Candia siege, which ended in 1669. The Ottomans placed great importance on occupying the castle to ensure safe landings on the shores of Heraklion Bay. As a result, when the Venetian ships were in Chania, the Turks surrounded the fort, which eventually surrendered. The Turks then destroyed the castle to prevent enemies from utilizing it.

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  • Fortress

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