Frangocastello, Crete Island
After a rough old 1 1/2 hour ride from Kalives through the mountains we made it south.
Luckily the EU seems to have given Crete money to build a new road from North to South, so the road is now much better.
About 70km from Rethymno, on the South coast of Crete, in front of a nice sandy beach, stands one of the most beautiful Venetian fortresses, Fragokastello (Castel Franco), built by Venetians in 1371 in order to protect the South coast of Crete against pirates, Turks and Cretan rebelds.
The Battle of Fragokastello:
In 1828 during the War of Independence against the Turks, the troops of Hatzimihalis Dalianis took refuge in the casstle during the Battle of Fragokastello. The leader of the Turks, Mustafabey, besieged the castle for seven days. During the siege Dalianis himself and 350 of his troops died. Locals, however, closed in on the Turkish army from behind and with their help, Mustafabey retreated and allowed to the troops to exit the castle unharmed. Afterwards, he demolished a big part of the castle and started to proceed towards northeast. But the locals, waited for them in the gorges and slaughtered many his army.
The Phenomenon of Drosoulites:
According to a local legend, every year, on the anniversay of the Battle of Fragokastello, when the dawn breaks, the visitor sees a long procession of visions.
There are people, dressed in black, with their weapons shining under the morning sun, walkers and riders, marching from the ruined church of Agios Charalambos and advancing towards the fort. The phenomenos is observed whrn the sea is calm and the atmosphere is moist and it usually last about 10 minuts.
they reach the sea and disappear into it, with the first rays of the sun. They are called Drosoulites.
The procession could be well observed from the valley at a distance of 1000m.
This phenomenon has been well attested over a period of time. Many have tried to explain this in a scientific way, and at one time it was explained as a mirage from the coast of north Africa, but still there is no accepted consensus.
Fragokastello, is a good base for those who want to explore the South west coast of Crete.
tip under construction!
With all my praise of Paleochora, please don't think there aren't other great places on Crete. My second favorite was Frangokastello, a tiny town on the south coast that's so quiet that you might wonder whether there's anyone else there other than you at times. Regardless of whether you approach by driving through the mountains to the east or the west of town, you can tell at first glance that Frangokastello is a quiet little place where you will find plenty of solitude. Aside from the Venetian castle on the east end of town just above the main beach, there's really not much to this place at all. Tourist facilities include a handful of pensions and rooms spaced far enough apart that sometimes you can't even see the next one from your window (many with their own tavernas), two or three minimarkets and only a few stand-alone tavernas or restaurants.
All of which means the only thing to do in Frangokastello is go to the beach. And what a beach it is. The best part is located just beneath the castle and extends slightly to the west. The sand is soft, the water crystal clear, and a large lagoon provides calm warm water perfect for children (or anyone else for that matter). Very little traffic goes through town and the beach attracts far fewer visitors than others on the south coast. In fact, the only down side to Frangokastello is that may actually be a bit too quiet. Unless you're looking to do nothing but relax on the beach (not that there's anything wrong with that), you may find, as I did, that you're ready to move on after a couple days.
On the south coast of Crete, on a magnificent white sandy beach, stands one of the most beautiful Venetian fortresses, Fragokastello, built in 1371.
It is located approximately 170 km from Iraklion, 70 km from Rethimnon, and 70 Km from Hania.
Today, Fragokastello is a small, but developing, community, with nice beaches covered in sand dunes, and limited, but increasing, tourist facilities.
Fragokastello, is an ideal base of operations for visitors who want to explore the south west coast of Crete, or the impressive White Mountains.
From Fragokastello passes the European hiking footpath (E4).
The footpath comes to Fragokastello through the gorge of Imbros and crosses the gorge of Kalikratis through Fragokastello and the village of Patsianos.
It is the beautiful area with nice beach with golden sand.
There is a nice castle there. Looking on the castle you can see the high mountains in the background and it is really amazing view.
It was built by Venetians in 1371 as it was then a defence againts the sea pirates for example.
It is the historical place as there was an important battle there between Greek people and Turkish people in year 1828.
One of the quiter beaches on Crete that I found was at the Frangokastelo. Directly in front of the castle lies its beach. It is a long strip of good, white sand, and that has a small restaurant/bar for refreshments. Across the street from the castle is a small grocery and "essential needs" shop. Whats great about the beach is that shallow water extends for a great distance from the shore, making the water seem crystal clear as far as you can see. At the end is a pretty sharp rock formation, so be careful of your feet.
Built in 1371 protect the leader from the local population and to protect the land from pirates of the Mediterranean, the Venetian castle at Frangokastello still remains along Crete's southern coastline. There are many stories about the place being haunted by those who attacked and were thwarted by the castle and its defenders. From a distance, you would think that it is going to be a supercool site to explore, but when you finally enter, there are a few climbs among the towers that can be had, but not much else.
The first time I came here there was no electricity, it had yet to arrive (avrio!), so cooking and light was all from gas. Seeing the night sky, unpolluted by interference from the ground, was the first time I had ever truly understood how the Greeks could use their word for milk as the basis of their word for star formations. The sea at night along the shore was a theatre of light from the luminous creatures at swim therein. And the rhythm of life, tied so rigidly as it was to the natural arrangement of things, was a blessed relief from the rat race at home. An intended stop of a few days became weeks in no time, and it was the hardest thing to wrench oneself free and return in the end. In the years between some things have changed of course, now there is a road, electricity, many more pensions, even a supermarket! So it was with trepidation that I returned there three years ago after a seven year gap. I am pleased to report that the essential scale of the place, the contagious friendliness of the locals, the beaches, the hikes and overall the pace of life have been largely unaffected by the commercial development. It is a place where I have made friends that have lasted through life, and it is a place that I expect to return to some day - hopefully to meet some or all of those friends again. Stay well Klaus!