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July 11, 2008

The ghosts of Frangokastello

One of the things that had attracted us to stay at Frangokastello last year was the ghost story attached to the castle. The Hora Sfakian region has always been a thorn in the side to whoever was trying to conquer and occupy Crete, and the fort was originally built by the Venetians in the 14th century, and later used by the Turks.

18a_castle

The most famous rebellion occurred in 1828, when Hadzi Mihalis Dalanis and his 400-strong band of Cretan rebels lost a bloody pitched battle at the fort, but took twice as many Turks with them. On the anniversary of the their deaths - 17th May - the Cretan rebels are said to appear at dawn as misty shapes around the fort, and march into the sea.

Those who don't believe in the superstition believe that the visual effect is caused by atmospheric conditions specific to that time of year, and that the figures that appear are some sort of reflection from the Libyan desert which is across the water from southern Crete.

When we visited it in 2007, we stayed the night of the 15th of May, 2 days before the anniversary. Well, we decided it seemed churlish not to try and spot this effect - which if it was just down to the vague time of year might not be restricted to the 17th itself.

We were staying in the Flisvos apartments, with the sea literally lapping at the foot of our chalet door. Some of the rooms are in a converted old windmill, and we had a room in one of the old out-houses.

18b_flisvosdawn

We got up at 5am, and sat on the rocks outside our room to watch dawn come up over the Eastern mountains of Crete. And hopefully spot some ghosts.

18c_dawn

We did get a little spooked at one point by a small animal running across the rocks near us, which could have been a rat or a weasel, but needless to say, we didn't see any visions. Dawn was, nevertheless, as spectacular as you'd imagine as we huddled together with our little flask of coffee.

18d_usatdawn

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