Gramvousa Beach rusty shipwerck in Kissamos, Chania, Crete

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Gramvousa island (or Gramvoussa)

At the bay of Kissamos in the west side of Chania there is a complex of small islands and promontories of great beauty. The most beautiful areas are the Imeri Gramvousa island and the beach of Balos at Tigani Promontory.

The island of Imeri Gramvousa with its pure and impressive scenery and its turquoise waters attracts a lot of tourists every year not only for its virgin magnificent landscape, but also for its long history and the Venetian fortress at the top of the island, which is a major attraction to visitors.

On a steep rock of 137m height lie the ruins of the Venetian fortress. Originally, it was built in 1579-1582, but it was destroyed by a thunderbolt fallen on the powder magazine in 1588. It was rebuilt in 1630. Its natural fortification was conducive to be unconquerable and remain, along with the fortresses of Sitia and Spinalonga, under Venetian occupation after the conquest of Crete by the Turkish army.

However, the fortress was handed over to the Othomans in 1692 due to the corruption and bribery of the Venetian commander. In 1825, Imeri Gramvousa was the first region of Crete that was set free from the Othomans, when the Cretans, pretending the new guard, entered the castle and occupied it. On Imeri Gramvousa we come across a small pebbled beach with the view of a shipwreck and the lagoon of Balos.

The desert island of Agria Gramvousa, where there are frequently strong winds and the steep rocks turn coppery at sunset, according to a certain version, is the island of Aeolus and Homer in Odyssey describes it as an island “surrounded by an impenetrable coppery wall”. The origin of the name of the peninsula (Korykos, meaning leather bag) is explained by a myth according to which Aeolus tamed the winds and confined them all, except for Zephyrus, in a leather bag in order to help Ulysses’ return to Ithaki.