A Venetian castle on the south coast of Crete
The castle was built by the Venetians in 1371-74 as a garrison to impose order on the rebellious Sfakia region, to deter pirates, and to protect Venetian nobles and their properties. The Venetians named it the Castle of St. Nikitas after the nearby church. The locals, however, who never saw it in a positive light, contemptuously dubbed it Frangokastello, meaning the Castle of the Franks (i.e. Catholic foreigners), Castelfranco or Franco Castello. The name eventually stuck and was adopted by the Venetians as well. According to local lore, when soldiers and builders arrived on the fertile plain to begin construction of the castle, the local Sfakians, led by six Patsos brothers from the nearby settlement of Patsianos, would destroy every night what the Venetians built during the day. Eventually, the Venetians were forced to bring in additional troops and the Patsos brothers were betrayed, arrested and hanged.
The castle has a simple rectangular shape, with a tower at each corner and the remains of a Venetian coat of arms above the main gate. The buildings within the walls, as well as the battlements, were constructed during the Ottoman Turkish occupation.
The main beach of Frangokastello is truly magnificent, with sand and shallow turquoise waters ideal for children. It is well organized and generally crowded. The only problem you may encounter is the frequent annoying south wind in the area, carrying the sand with force.
To reach Frangokastello from Chania, you will need to drive on the National Road Chania - Heraklion, turn at the exit for Vrysses and follow the road to Hora Sfakion (Sfakia). You will pass the Askifou plateu and then, the imposing gorge of Imbros, which ends on the south coast of Sfakia. Then, follow the signs towards Frangokastello. The journey takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.