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THE VILLAGE OF FRANGOKASTELO IN THE SOUTHEAST OF CRETE
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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).

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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.

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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 undeep untill 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 taverna's 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).

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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.


Hans Huisman, https://www.angelfire.com/super2/greece/ 2014
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