Fortress of Koules

It is one of the most familiar and beloved monuments of the city, and the symbol of Heraklion…

The Venetian Castle of Heraklion is called Koules, which means fortress in Turkish, or the “Water Tower”. The Fortress of Koules dominates the entrance to the Venetian harbour of Heraklion.

Today the fortress gazes proudly out across the Sea of Crete, reminding us of the glory of Venetian Chandax. It is haunted by legends that Cretan rebels were horribly tortured in its damp, dark rooms.

The Koules Castle is a massive fortress with two storeys that used to guard the entry to the port. The Castle was constructed by the Venetians in the early 13th century, when they conquered the town. The earliest description of the Koules Venetian Castle exists in the work of the Florentine monk Cristoforo Buondelmonti in 1429.

The Fortress was primarily built for the storage of the food stuff and the military supplies. It also served as the quarter for the officers and as a prison. A devastating earthquake completely destroyed the Castle in 1303 and it was rebuilt by the Genoese.

Today the Koules Venetian Castle has been cleaned and restored many times. It is visited by thousands of people every year and consists the trademark of Heraklion Town.