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|The village, the beaches and the fortress of Frangokastelo on the island of Crete|
Frangokastelo or Frangokastello (it has even more ways of spelling it as happens often in Greece) is a village in the south of Crete, 16 kilometers east of Chora Sfakion. The village can be reached on the Vrises - Embrosneros - Imbros - Chora Sfakion - Frangokastello road. The village of Frangokastelo is dominated by a 14th century Venetian castle (built in 1371), of which only the outside walls remain, with on each corner a tower. The biggest tower in the south west corner was a waiting house for the main gate (above the gate you can still see the Venetian lion of the holy Marcus).
|The battle of Frangokastelo|
Originally the Castle was named after the nearby Agias Nikitas Chapel but the local Cretans re-christened the name into Frangokastello (meaning "foreign castle"). A general word for the Greeks to name western Europeans is "Franks". On May 28, 1828 a big battle took place at the castle when there was an uprising against the Turks. The Greeks, lead by a man from Epirus on the mainland (Hatzimichalis Dalianis) took over the castle. The Turks sent reinforcements and 385 of 700 Greek "rebels" in the castle were massacred. Next to the castle the statue of the Greek rebel Hatzimichalis Dalianis can be seen, next to a statue of a local hero from the uprising (Nik Deligianakis from the Sfaka area). The tale goes that at dawn of each anniversary of the battle shadows of figures on foot and on horseback can be seen in the mist, marching from the Church of Agios Charalambos to the fort.
|The beach of Frangokastelo|
Frangokastelo is located in a sort of a swampy bay with a tiny village and a large beach (hard sand though here and there - but not everywhere - because a river floats into the sea here). A little bit further west you can find another beach. The beaches are very shallow and remain so until far in the sea, so perfect also for families with small children. There are sunbeds and umbrellas for rent on the beach. There are enough accommodations (hotels, studios and apartments) and taverns in Frangokastello to choose from. This part of Crete is still quiet and unspoilt, for the people that want to avoid the mass tourism that you find on some other places on the island. Plenty of space on the beach and a nice area for making walks. The beach of Frangokastelo is quite large and in the area are plenty of other quiet beaches to choose from (Lakki Beach, Koutelos Beach, Fata Morgana beach, Orthi Ammos Beach, just to name a few).
|The Early Christian Basilica of Agios Nikitas|
If you continue on the road from Frangokastelo eastwards you will see a small chapel on your left hand side after about 300 meters. This chapel stands on the grounds of the former Christian Basilica of Agios Nikitas, which dates from the second half of the 6th century A.D. This basilica was 26 meters long and the remains can still be seen. There are large mosaic floors that are in pretty good condition, depicting geometrical patterns and images of animals. The basilica was abandoned when the Arabs raided the island and in later times its stones were used by the Venetians to build the Frangokastelo castle. The small church that now stands on the place of the old basilica is the Venetian Agios Nikitas church which dates from the 13th century. It is built with materials and the mosaic floorings from the old basilica and decorated with wall paintings.
The easiest way to reach the village of Frangokastelo from the north is through the village of Vrisses. You take the exit to "Sfakia" from the highway, drive through the village of Vrisses and take the exit towards Chora Sfakion. Depending on how fast you drive the journey takes about an hour to an hour and a half of your time. Along the way you can enjoy the beautiful landscape that you encounter here and there. There is the beautiful valley at Kares and you will also drive a lot along the Imbros gorge, where the view is spectacular. A bit further the road get winding and goes down with many bends and again there are beautiful vistas of the sea and the low-lying landscape. In some places there are small areas along the way where you park your car in order to enjoy it. Once you've come all the way down you take the exit to Frangokastelo and you still have to pass through a few small villages before you've reached the destination.
Frangokastelo is a village that is largely set along the road goes from east to west. Here and on the side roads down where the beaches are, you will find most of the tavernas. There are also two small supermarkets in the village. We went to the largest of them every morning because they had very nice fresh bread. Frangokastelo is a place for people that are looking for peace and quiet, and who don't like the crowded beaches. There are pars on the beaches where it is possibly to rent an umbrella and sun bed, but the majority is not organized. Most beaches are sandy and there are also a number of smaller pebble beaches. For naturists there also places Frangokastelo where they can swim without textiles.
|Babis & Popi Taverna - Frangokastelo|
Babis & Popi Taverna is indicated by a sign from the main road that runs through Frangokastelo. It is situated a little bit towards the beach. The service is friendly at this vine-covered terrace. The attentive waiter keeps looking around to see if he can be of service. The menu is quite extensive with several types of breakfast, fish, grilled dishes, pizza and Greek specialities. We ordered a pizza tuna, lamb chops, Greek salad and tzatziki. We get a carafe of cold water on the table. The white wine is fine, just what you can expect when you order house wine. The lamb chops were very good and well-seasoned, the fries are crispy. The pizza has a bit too thick a bottom and is loaded with cheese and tuna. A pizza with a thinner bottom and more tomato sauce would have been better. It is very filling. The tzatziki tastes good and has plenty of garlic. After dinner we get a big bottle of cold raki on the table and we end up going back home tipsy. Disadvantage: dry bread that is not in one piece, and this while there is wonderfully tasty bread for sale in the village supermarket.
Our verdict: a 7,5 out of 10
|Restaurant Blue Sky - Frangokastelo|
Blue Sky Restaurant is also indicated by a sign along the main road that runs through Frangokastelo. This restaurant is not on the sea side, but at the end of a short path inland (50 meters). The food is traditional Greek. Here we had dinner twice and we tried several dishes. The wine glasses are beautiful and the bread is fresh and in one piece. The chicken from the grill is very tasty and tender and the fries are crispy. The Tzatziki, chicken nuggets and saganaki (fried cheese) are also good. I have to ask for a piece of lemon, which is normally served with saganaki. The next day we ordered the swordfish fillet, the lamb chops and the zuchinies (zucchini slices). The swordfish is in okay and the lamb chops are good as well (but at Babis just slightly better). Both nights it proves to be very difficult to get the bill. On the last night I have to even ask the (German) woman who works there three times for the bill (the last time I walked over to her and waited until we finally got it). Calculate in half an hour for this.
Our verdict: a 7 out of 10
|Taverna Drosoulites - Frangokastelo|
Drosoulites Taverna is located right opposite the car park and the castle of Frangokastelo. Actually it is a pity that in this place such a large and ugly building has been put down that blocks the view of the castle. The taverna lives from the unsuspecting visitors who come to see the castle during the day. The prices in the taverna are shockingly high and you get the impression that there is really an abuse of the location of the taverna. In the evening when all the tour buses and visitors of the castle are gone, yo therefore don't see anybody in the taverna any more.
Our verdict: a 5 out of 10
|Orthi Ammos Taverna - Frangokastelo|
You can find this nice taverna on the waterfront near the castle of Frangokastelo (direction Orti Amos - the path runs from the castle - about 100 meter). It is a taverna which is specialized in seafood. The owner speaks several languages, including French and English, and he is very friendly. The fish is filleted at the table by him. Besides several kinds of fish there are also a number of other dishes. It tastes very good and it is not expensive. After the meal we get free raki and grapes.
Our verdict: an 8,5 out of 10
|Monachus Monachus Apartments and Studios in Frangokastello|
Located in the area of Fragokastello, Monachus Monachus features a swimming pool with a big sun terrace, just 300 metres from the Libyan Sea. It offers self-catering accommodation with pool and garden views. Studios and apartments at Monachus Monachus hotel are tastefully furnished and air conditioned. They have a kitchenette with dining area equipped with a fridge and electric kettle. Other facilities include a satellite TV and a private bathroom with shower. The bar of the hotel features a shaded seating area by the pool, where guests can enjoy snacks and refreshing drinks. Continental breakfast is served in the morning. Guests can visit the Venetian castle of Fragokastello, which dates back to 1371 AD. The picturesque village of Sfakia is 15 km away. Free on-site parking is possible
Check availability and prices & book Monachus Monachus Apartments and Studios on Crete - click here.
|Kallicrates Village Studios in Frangokastelo|
In a most scenic location, enjoying the background of the Lefka Ori and the Libyan Sea, Kallicrates Village is located at Fragokastello, 11 km east of Sfakia, at the southern coast of Crete. Kallicrates Village offers 10 studios. All are simply furnished, spacious and airy and surrounded by large garden areas. Guests can have breakfast at the pool bar. Refreshments and drinks are available at the rooftop terrace, which offers beautiful views.
Check availability and prices & book Kallicrates Village Studios on Crete - click here.
|Mary Beach Apartments near Frangokastelo / Chora Sfakion|
This little paradise of apartments is beautifully situated right on the seafront, in the peaceful unspoilt area of Laki. Mary Beach is peacefully situated 1 km down a country lane off the main road leading to Frangokastello. Enjoy fantastic mountain views and many secluded sandy beaches and coves in the immediate vicinity of the property. There is a large garden to the front of the complex with trees, shrubs, umbrellas and chairs, allowing for moments of indulgent relaxation. Just past the end of the garden you will find the sandy beach. The area is superb for fishing, diving and snorkelling, with lots of hidden coves along the rocky coastline. As the sun sets, you can return to Mary Beach and enjoy a meal in our traditional taverna.
Check availability and prices & book Mary Beach Apartments on Crete - click here.
For all hotels, apartments and studios in Frangokastello on Crete - click here.
|Tip by Rita Woldringh - another naturist beach near Frangokastelo|
We regularly go to this lovely beach near Frangokastello. Maybe an addition to your list? You can reach it by taking the road just before reaching Frangokastello (coming from Plakias) where it says "Fata Morgana". Above the beach is a tavern, where you can park the car. When you arrive on the beach go left and the end there is (as often) a naturist part. Surrounded by cliffs and sand dunes it is a heavenly place. The sea is shallow and the beach is sandy also when you go into the water. Attached are two photos of the beach (see above).
Note: in the meantime I found out that this beach is not Fata Morgana, but it often called this way. This is because of the signs on the road that point to an accommodation near the beach. Officially the beach is called Orthi Ammos. For more information and pictures - click here.