Castel Nuovo (Kasteli Messara)

Construction Period: 1206

Location: Castel Nuovo is situated on an isolated hill named Psilo Kasteli, northwest of the village of Kastelli Kainourgiou in Messara, Crete. It is located near the ancient Minoan palace of Phaistos.

Dimensions: The fortress itself is relatively small, with the surrounding protected area estimated to be around 150 square meters.

Historical Significance:

  • Construction and Naming: Built in 1206 by the Genoese pirate Enrico Pescatore, who named it “Nuovo” (meaning “new”), possibly because it was one of the first fortresses he built from scratch.
  • Strategic Location: The fortress was strategically important due to its location on a hill, offering a commanding view of the surrounding area. It is believed to have been built on the site of the ancient city of Aina.
  • Role in Cretan Revolts: Castel Nuovo played a role in several Cretan revolts against Venetian rule, including the Revolt of the Two Syvritos (1230-1236) and the Revolt of the Kallergis (1363-1367). It was briefly reoccupied during the Cretan War (1645-1669).
  • Legacy: The name of the fortress is the origin of the name of the Kainourgiou province.

Current Status:

Today, Castel Nuovo is in ruins, with only a few sections of its walls and cisterns remaining. The site is not actively maintained, but it remains an important historical landmark. The ruins offer insight into the fortress’s past and the broader history of Crete under Venetian rule.

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Ottoman period

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