Profitis Ilias

The castle at Profitis Ilias (also known as Roka) dates backs to the early part of the second Byzantine period, i.e. shortly after 961 AD.

Having rather brutally rid the island of the Saracens (here from 824-961), the Byzantine general – later to become Emperor – Nikiphoros Phokas, built the castle of ‘Temenos’, on a hill, which in itself was a natural fortification. His idea was to avoid piratical raids by building a stronghold some distance from the sea, but Herakleion soon became the Cretans preferred site. When the Venetians acquired Crete after the dreadful sacking of Constantinople, in 1204, they didn’t account for their hated rival, the Genoese beating them to the island, and setting-up camp. The Genoese leader, Enriico Pescatore, made Temenos his stronghold, and only left the island having been handsomely paid to do so, by the Venetians. The earthquake of 1303 destroyed much of what had been built, and the castle fell into neglect. In 1647, however, Temenos was occupied by Turks, who’d arrived on the island a couple of years beforehand. The Turks were massacred by the Greek and Venetians. Once the Ottoman Empire had established complete control of the island in 1669, the castle took on the name ‘Kanli Kastelli’ which derives from the Turkish words meaning “bloody castle”.


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