Castles of Greece


Malathyros, Kissamos, Chania,Crete

Castle of Malathyros

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Castle of Malathyros
On a steerp rocky hill above the village Malathyros in the Kissamos region of western Crete
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Municipality > Town:
City of Kissamos
• Malathyros
Elevation ≈ 560 m 
(Relative Height≈220 m)
Time of Construction   Origin
probably 10th century  
Castle Type   Condition
In Ruins

Ruins of a Byzantine castle on a rock above and southeast of the village Malathyros in western Crete, south of Kissamos.

It was one of the castles that protected the Kissamos area. The other castles were Roca and Polyrrinia, which are very close to it.


The castle has not been researched. The most comprehensive report about it comes from the Italian Gerola since 1902-1903.

Malathyros is not mentioned in the Venetian files nor in any other historical source. Obviously it was not in use in the Venetian era.

Most probably, it was built in the beginning of the Second Byzantine period of Crete, i.e. around the 10th century, after the recapture of Crete from the Saracens. It must have been one of those castles (more like fortified-cities) that the Byzantines built at that time away from the coast in strong positions, with elaborate fortification, in anticipation of an Arabian invasion. These castles, like Malathyros, never attracted much population and when the Arabian threat faded, they lost their defensive role. So being useless and difficult to approach, they have been abandoned relatively soon.

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

The castle had a double line of defensive walls at its weak side, at the south.

The main walls are 2.5 m thick and extend to all sides except the eastern where the steep cliff provided adequate protection. There were 12 semicircular towers along the walls and a large rectangular tower inside.

At the northeastern corner of the settlement there is an elevated small plateau enclosed in a separate interior fortification. It was obviously the citadel.

Inside the yard, there are cisterns, wells and remains of various buildings, the purpose of which has not been determined.


  • Nikos M.Gigourtakis , Monograph in the History Department of the University of Crete, “Byzantine fortifications in Crete in the 2nd Byzantine period (961-1204)”, Rethymno 2004
  • Website malathiros.blogspot.gr - malathiros.blogspot.gr

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Road map to Castle of Malathyros

Approach to the monument:
Extremely difficultto access. There is no path, no entrance and climbing skills are neede to pass the southern cliffs. Moreover, there is a fence.

Other castles around
Gramvousa Fortress
Kasteli of Kissamos
Fortress of Rocca
Castle of Selinos
Koules of Spaniakos
Thodorou Forts
Tower at Varsamakia
Voukelasi Fort
Tower of Voukolies