The fortress was built by the Venetians in the early years of their rule in Candia, in order to better protect the city’s port, which had prominent strategic and commercial importance. The original low building, which had no escarpments, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1303 and later rebuilt.
In the early 16th century, in the context of the overall redesign of the city’s fortifications, the old castle was demolished and the fortress that still survives today was built in its place during the period from 1523 (the date indicated in an inscription over the north gate) to 1540. Massive structural sections were brought from Fraskia and Dia. The fortress is built on two storeys and in its final form covers an area of about 3,600 m2.
The ground floor is separated by thick walls into 26 apartments that served as food and ammunition warehouses, as well as prison cells, in which many Cretan rebels were kept and tortured. Upstairs were accommodations for the castellan and the officers of the garrison. There was a bakery, a mill and a small church. On the three sides that looked towards the sea, there were embrasures for the cannons protecting the harbor. In 1630 there were 18 cannons on the ground floor and 25 on the upper floor. A ramp was used to transport cannons as far as the rooftop. The north east, west and south outer walls were decorated with marble reliefs of the winged lion of Venice, which are partially visible today. The ramparts of the fort have been rebuilt.
(Text by: Vasiliki Sithiakaki, archaeologist)
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