Koules Fortress

Heraklion, Greece

The 'Castello a Mare' is a fortress located at the entrance of the old port of Heraklion, Crete. It was built by the Republic of Venice in the early 16th century, and is still in good condition today.

The site of Castello a Mare was possibly first fortified by the Arabs in the 9th or 10th centuries. By the Byzantine period, a tower known as Castellum Comunis stood on the site. In 1303, the tower was destroyed in an earthquake but was repaired.

In 1462, the Venetian Senate approved a programme to improve the fortifications of Candia. Eventually, the Byzantine tower was demolished in 1523, and the Castello a Mare began to be built instead. Old ships were filled with stone, and were sunk to form a breakwater and increase the area of the platform on which the fortress was built. The fortress was completed in 1540.

In 1630, the fort was armed with 18 cannons on the ground floor, and 25 cannons on the pathway leading to the roof.

During the 21-year long Siege of Candia, Ottoman batteries easily neutralized the fort's firepower. The Ottomans eventually took the fort in 1669, after the Venetians surrendered the entire city. They did not make any major alterations to the fort, except for the additions of some battlements and embrasures. They built a small fort known as Little Koules on the landward side, but this was demolished in 1936 while the city was being modernized.

The fortress has been restored, and it is now open to the public. Art exhibitions and cultural activities are occasionally held at the fort.

The fortress is made up of two parts: a high rectangular section, and a slightly lower semi-elliptical section. Its walls are up to 8.7m thick at some places, and it has three entrances. The fort has two stories, with a total of 26 rooms, which were originally used as barracks, a prison, storage rooms, a water reservoir, a church, a mill and a bakery. A lighthouse tower is located on the northern part of the fort.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1462
Category: Castles and fortifications in Greece

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Eliza Connolly (12 months ago)
A really excellent exhibit, and very interesting, but there are about 80+ deeply technical paragraphs throughout. I would still highly recommend it, as it gives a VERY thorough background on Heraklion in general, but just consider it more a full museum rather than a quick pit-stop. It took us about 1.5-hours(!) to get through everything.
Yiannis Pontikes (13 months ago)
The fortress is great, and the restoration and history behind also. I would give 5 stars if the people working here were a bit more smiley and friendly. Not fair to generalise, maybe these 2 ladies had a bad day...
Soizic Pasquer (13 months ago)
Very cool history and excessively beautiful view of the sea
Debbie Nugent (13 months ago)
Lovely to walk around and read its history
Asma H. Tabar (14 months ago)
The museum staff are so nice here and they explain the history of the sight very well.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Roman Walls of Lugo

Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.

Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.

The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.

Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.

Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.

The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.