Frangokastello in Southern Crete
Frangokastello is one of Crete's most famous monuments. The fortress was built by Venetians between 1371-1374 for a garrison that would impose some order in the rebellious region of Sfakia, and as a protection against pirates. The castle has a rectangular shape with towers at each corners and the remains of a Venetian coat of arms above the main gate. The castle is smaller than it seems to be in pictures. No entrance fee.
Many horrors have taken place in Frangokastello. For example in 1770 when the Cretan rebel leader Ioannis Daskalogiannis was captured by the Turkish military. He was tortured and skinned alive. It is said that he endured the torture without saying a single word. He was executed in Heraklion.
Daskalogiannis real name was Ioannis Vlachos, but he was called
Daskalogiannis because he was a qualified teacher. Daskalos means teacher
in Greek. Daskalogiannis - who came from the village of Anapoli
west of Chora Sfakion - is one of Crete's most important rebel
leaders of all times. Many streets in Crete carries his name, as well
as Chania's airport.
Inside the castle of Frangokastello.
On May 17 1828 something happened that still influences Frangokastello. At any rate if you believe in ghosts. Just that day, Frangokastello was occupied by hundreds of men from Sfakia. But the Turks did not like the act so they surrounded the fortress and massacred all the Cretans in the castle.
The ghost beach below the Frangokastello castle.
Every year, on the anniversary of the massacre, it is said that shadows of armed Cretan soldiers march from the fortress to the sea. The soldiers are called drosoulites after the Greek word drosia, which means dew. They got the name because they always march out early in the morning. Many say that they have seen these dew-ghosts, but of course there is no evidence that they exist. :-)
Part of the beach in Frangokastello.
Frangokastello is not only a castle full of ghosts, it is also
a small village that slowly but surely is developing into a tourist resort.
There are hotels and pensions, some tavernas and about three sandy beaches.
The most popular beach lies below the castle and this is the place where
the ghosts come down to swim on May 17 every year.
What I think is the best thing about Frangokastello is that it is close to one of my favorite villages in Crete: Chora Sfakion.