This beautiful place, known under Venetian rule as the Fort of The Seas, was built in the 16th century to protect the town of Heraklion. The name under which it is known today, Koules Fortress, comes from the times of Turkish governance.
It is a distinct landmark in the city, and probably the only one I visited. Keep in mind, if you’re spending your holiday here in winter, it is only open till 3pm, so it took us two attempts to get inside as we missed the first opportunity.
We started with a short tour of the top.
The whole structure is actually not that tall, but you will get pretty nice view from almost every corner. If you do your best ignoring the sight of the industrial looking port and crumbling sea line further away.
On the day we visited, start of November, it was so hot I really felt like it’s the middle of summer. Even the seagulls complained.
I could tell you all about the history and details of the battles, but its all written on the information windows inside, and unfortunately being the average tourist I am, I wasn’t actually reading them all.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Heraklion is not the prettiest of all cities in Crete. In my list, probably on the last spot right after Rethymno and Chania. The harbor area is dominated not only by this beautiful fortress, but also industrial port with cruise ships and crumbling-like buildings all around. The whole city feels somehow messy and disorganized. In light of full disclosure, I did my research throughout and unfortunately, if you’re not keen on museums and archaeology, there isn’t much to see in the town itself.
The day before, we visited the Natural History Museum and had a lovely walk around the coast line. Much of the beauty is hidden away on the outskirts of the town, pretty landscapes and small villages (more on that later).
As you venture inside the fortress, you will find pretty well maintained rooms with of information and even some gun powder and ammunition still in place.
It feels like the time has stopped inside.
You will get a chance to explore various artifacts and witnesses of the many battles, like these vases discovered at a bottom of the sea on a shipwreck. The inside of the fortress is not vast by any means, depending on how much of the history you want to read (and how many pictures you want to take), you can be done in 15 minutes.
After we saw few of the rooms, we happily concluded that this one can be a tick on our list and moved on to the nearest restaurant to toast to our inner explorers.
Come back end of the week for the last part of the Cretan adventure – this time I will take you to a small wine making village for a wine tasting tour. Don’t forget to bring a glass for the wine!