Frangokastelo beach, Sfakia, Chania

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Author: Giannis Foudoulakis
Frangokastelo Beach near Sfakia, Chania, South Crete

In the late 14th century, the Venetians built a small fort here in order to protect the locals from pirates, as well as the regional rulers from the locals with which there were frequent conflicts. The people of Sfakia did not look kindly on the construction of the castle, as they considered it a 'stranger' to them and despairingly called it Frangokastelo (castle of the Franks), introducing the name as it is known today. During the Ottoman era the castle was severely damaged and was rebuilt in the 19th century in the form we find it today.

600 men and their leader Hadjimichalis Dalianis barricaded themselves into the castle during the war against the Turks in 1828. Dalianis and 335 men were lost in battle and their bodies were left unburied. There is a legend that says a strong wind blew and the dead bodies were covered with sand. Since then, it is said that some days in the mornings in late May, the shadows of the warriors appear to be walking slowly towards the castle and then lost at sea. This rare vision is caused by the reflection of the sun into the sea, it takes place very early in the morning and stops a few minutes later when the morning dew is gone. Dew is called "drosia" in Greek and this is why the locals have called the ghosts of the dead warriors Drosoulites.

This place exudes something mystical and is definitely worth a visit. The beach is directly in front of the castle, it has fine grey sand and clear blue shallow waters. It is well organised and has many tourist facilities. After you have a swim, do not leave Frangokastelo without taking a short walk into the castle, having a stroll around the nearby monastery of Agios Charalambos and tasting the delicious local cuisine at one of the many popular taverns of the region.

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