Firkas Fortress
in Chania Harbour 

During the Venetian rule in Crete, the looming expansion of the Ottoman Turks in the area of Crete and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, led the Venetians to fortify the cities of Crete as well as other strategically places.

The city's fortification plans, among others, included the construction of a fortress at the entrance to the harbour, in order to face a possible attack from the seaside and ensure the protection of the harbour and the city. 

The positions of the cannons, in each of the six arched openings, are still visible on the outer northern side of the wall. The rectangular openings above them, were allowing the cannoneer to observe the trajectory of the shot in order to make the necessary corrections on the next shot. To sink the enemy ship, had to hit it at a sea level height. That is why cannon positions are at the lowest height of the walls, at ground level. 

The entrance of the fortress is located on the South side and coincides with the entrance of the Maritime Museum of Crete, which is built within the walls of the fortress. 

During the Venetian rule, the fortress housed the seat of the military governor of the city of Chania as well the barracks of the naval garrison of the Venetians.

Inside the fortress, notice...

  • The carved entrance on the first floor of the two-storey building, where is preserved the lion-emblem of the Serene Republic of Venice. 
  • The vaulted ground with the vertical holes on it. This forms the roof of a large underground cistern where gathered the rainwater.
  • The arched spaces where the cannons used to be, at the northern walls of the fort. 

In the later years of the Ottoman rule, the fortress Firkas was used as barracks (Firkas means barracks in Turkish language), as well as a prison for the Cretans, who were struggled for freedom and the long-desired union with Greece.

In 1913, with the treaties of London and Bucharest, the Turks renounce all their sovereign rights on the island, and Crete is granted to Greece. 

On 1 December 1913 (14/12/1913 according to the old Orthodox calendar), the official ceremony of the awaited union of Crete with Greece, took place at the Firkas turret, in a climate of excitement and indescribable joy.

Present were the King Constantine of Greece, the Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, chieftain's survivors of the Cretan revolutions, and crowds of people from all over Crete.

Since then, the blue-white flag of Greece flutters at the turret of the fortress, and the anniversary of the union of Crete with Greece is celebrated every year on December 1, by organizing a similar ceremony at the Firkas fort. 

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