Castles of Greece


Paleokastro, Malevizi, Herakleion,Crete

Paleokastro of Malevizio

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Paleokastro of Malevizio
Paleokastro, in the Gulf of Malevizio, 8 km west of Heraclion, Crete
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Municipality > Town:
City of Malevizi
• Paleokastro
Elevation ≈ 15 m 
Time of Construction   Origin
end of 16th century  
Castle Type   Condition
Coastal Fortress  

The triangular fortress of Paliokastro is on a big rock by the sea, 8 km west of Heraklion, on the west side of Heraklion Bay.
Today, only a part of the walls remains. The highway of Heraklion - Chania passes behind the fort.

An ancient settlement existed at this spot, which was either the acropolis of the ancient town Kytaion or the town Elaia.

The castle was built by the Genoans in 1206 but took its final form after the reconstruction by the Venetians in the end of the 16th century. Hence, it is classified as “Venetian”.


In 1204, when the Genoese pirate Pescatore conquered Crete, he built 14 forts in order to protect it. Among them was the fort of Paliokastro, which could protect the bay of Heraklion and prevent the landing of enemy on the nearby shores.

The Venetians sent their fleet in 1209 and took control of the island by 1211. Paliokastro was the last stronghold of Pescatore. At the end, he was forced to leave the castle and Crete.

At the beginning of the Venetian Era, the castle lost its original importance because the Bay of Heraklion could be now protected by the Venetian ships. But when Venice was threatened by the presence of the Ottomans, the castle regained its value. Thus, during the years 1573-1595 they rebuilt the old castle, just like many other castles throughout the island. The castles of the Bay were then able to control the entire region, since the cannon shots from Paliokastro crossed with the shots from the ramparts of St Andrew (Heraklion Walls).

The fort was under Venetian occupation until the last years of the siege of Candia that finally “fell” in 1669. The Ottomans gave great importance to the occupation of the castle, so that they could land on the shores of Heraklion Bay safely. Thus, when the ships of Venice were still in Chania, the Turks surrounded the fort, which was surrendered. Then the Turks destroyed it in order to prevent the enemies from using it.

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

The castle had sloping walls and three uneven levels. The main gate was located on the south edge of the castle and lead to the lower square, which had many small rooms. In one of them you can still see a small church dedicated to Agios Markos (celebr. on Easter Tuesday), which was built with the ruins of the castle. North of the castle, there was an armoury with solid and very strong walls. Right next to it was a water tank. Upon entering, there was a staircase leading to the second level, where the barracks were. Finally, the upper level hosted the church of the castle. On the north-easternmost corner of the castle you could see the winged lion of St. Mark, the emblem of Venice.


  • Website creatan beaches - Paliokastro Fortress
  • Στέργιος Σπανάκης, «Η Κρήτη, Τουριστικός-Ιστορικός-Αρχαιολογικός Οδηγός, τόμος Α΄ Κεντρική και Ανατολική Κρήτη»
  • Στέργιος Σπανάκης, «Μνημεία της Κρητικής Ιστορίας, τόμ. V.»
  • Gerola, Giuseppe,1877-1938, Monumenti Veneti nell' isola di Creta /ricerche e descrizione fatte dal dottor Giuseppe Gerola per incarico del R. Istituto, V.1 Venezia :1905, pp.217

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