Pirates and legends of hidden treasures …..
Venetian defence against the Ottomans …..
Bravery and insurgency ….. And above all, immense beauty and wild nature ….
These are the few things that the Island of Gramvousa can be described with 🙂
A G R I A G R A M V O U S A
The two islands are situated in the Kiss of the Three Seas – the Sea of Crete, the Mediterranean and Southern Aegean Seas. They are two of them and they are similar but at the same rather different. Both of them are uninhabited but the one is “Imeri” (tame) while the other one is “Agria” (wild). Agria Gramvousa is less hospitable and its name depicts it very well. As for Imeri Gramvousa, it played a major role in the Venetian times, the Ottoman period and during the Cretan insurgency.
The Tame Grmavousa has still housed the remains of the Venetian stronghold that was built between 1579 and 1584. The Venetians chose the highest point of the island because of its strategic position – the visibility to the sea, the hard accessibility of the 137-metre steep cliff and its natural fortification. The defending fortress had a major role against the Ottoman invasion in the prolonged Cretan War. When Crete surrendered to the Ottomans in 1669, this fortress along with two others – Souda and Spinalonga, remained Venetian and thus the Venetian trade routes were protected. Moreover, having been retained by the Venetians, the three fortresses turned into extremely strategic military bases in case of a new Ottoman-Venetian war for Crete.
Unfortunately, during the Sixth Ottoman–Venetian War (better known as the Morean War in English and la guerra di Morea in Italian), Gramvousa fell in the hands of the Ottomans after the betrayal of Captain de la Giocca (nicknamed as Captain Grambousas). The Neapolitan Captain surrendered the island to the Venetian enemy and he got an extremely generous bribe in return. He went to Constantinople where he spent the rest of his life.
Although the island became an Ottoman one, the fortress of Gramvousa and the other two strongholds became gathering points for Greek insurgents, especially during the Greek War of Independence. Unfortunately, the Ottomans succeeded in blocking the spread of rebels in other parts in Crete. Thus about 3000 Greek revolutionists were stuck on the Island of Gramvousa which became their base. The lack of food pushed them to piracy and seizing of sea vessels. That’s why the island is also known as the Pirate Island.
There are plenty of legends of hidden pirate treasure and there’s also a shipwreck which can be explored by curious divers and swim-lovers. As for those, who would prefer to swim calmly, the small beach beneath the Venetian fortress offers crystal-clear turquoise warm water. And those who want to turn back to Venetian times can take a 20-min walk up to the stronghold. The triangle-shaped fortress (by the way, each side is 1km long and the whole wall is 272 metres long) offers really breathtaking and postcard views of the blue sea and the small port where tourist ferry boats anchor. So, don’t miss the chance to visit that nice island before you are off to the Balos Lagoon. You won’t regret it. 🙂