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Castel Franco - Drosoulites

 

Fragokastello was named after a picturesque, Venetian castle, Castel Franco (1371 A.D. – 1374 A.D.). The Venetians named it Saint Nikita’s Castle because of a small church near the castle dedicated to this saint while the locals, as a token of their contempt for the conquerors, named it Fragokastello, castle of the Franks, Castel Franco or Franco Castello. The castle was built in the shape of a rectangle, with a square tower on every corner. Above the south gate there is the embossed St. Mark’s Lion between the crown of Quirini and Dolfin. This magnificent fortress was not able to harness the bravery of the Sfakians and was therefore gradually decommissioned.
The castle "found its true cause" about 450 years later. On 18 May 1828 it served as fortification for the Epirote chieftain Hatzimichalis Dalianis (Michalis Christou) and his men during the battle against the Turks. At the end of this battle and after Hatzimichalis death, the Turks blew up a great part or the castle. The fortress was reconstructed forty years later to be used during the Cretan Revolution by the Sfakian chieftain Daskalogiannis (Ioannis Vlachos) until the liberation of the island.

Nowadays and after the latest restoration work conducted by the Ministry of Culture, it remains in good condition, a silent witness of a glorious past.

This magnificent archaeological site is now used by the municipality of Sfakia for cultural events. You should consider yourselves lucky if you ever get the chance to be in Fragokastello, in these walls of history and myth, during a solemn night of cretan music and folk dancing under the light of our own moon!

It is also a timeless meeting point for every Sfakian on 15 September every year. It is the night St. Nikitas, whose church is near the castle, is celebrated. The religious service is followed by a fair and the beginning of "Nikitia", an athletic event in honor of the Saint.

At a short distance, there is the church of St. Astratigos and to the east of the castle, the half-ruined monastery of St. Charalambos where the famous "Drosoulites" start their journey every year on 18 May.

Drosoulites - Castel Franco

 

According to tradition, the bodies from the battle of 1828 remained unburied. A myth was born to make sure they left their marks in history for ever. Every year on 18 May, on the anniversary of the battle, as the sun begins to rise slowly and the dew of the dawn covers the plain with the flourishing camel-thorns, the "Drosoulites" wake up. Just for a few minutes, the sad ghosts of Daliani’s warriors crawl on the walls of the castle and then… vanish over the Libyan Sea! Shadows of armed warriors and horsemen in black go through the gates of the castle and disappear… claiming a place in history and in our memory! Find out more about the history of Fragokastello here.

Frangokástello, Khania, Greece

 
 

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