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Koules Fortress
Vacation Travel Guide

The prominent symbol of Heraklion, this imposing fortress by the harbor has protected the city for over 500 years.

Stand inside Koules Fortress and look out across the Heraklion harbor just as sentries who guarded the city from attack over 500 years ago would have done. Visit the soldiers’ barracks and prison and see where the cannons were positioned to fire upon approaching enemy vessels. Don’t miss the impressive marble reliefs depicting St. Mark’s lion, the symbol of Venice, on three of the walls of the fortress.

Records show there has been a fortress of some description at Heraklion harbor since around the 10th century. The current structure was built by the Venetians between 1523 and 1540. It was previously known as Rocca a Mare, or “rock of the sea.” The current name is taken from the Turkish word for fortress. Notice its imposing square shape and sturdy walls, which have made it the most prominent building in Heraklion. Many see it as a symbol of the city’s strength and longevity.

Walk from the port to see the fortress’s bulky form standing prominently on the harbor’s western breakwater. As you get closer, look for the large marble reliefs of St. Mark’s lion.

Enter the fortress and make your way through its 26 rooms. Note the low, curving archways that separate the different rooms. See where the soldiers used to live and visit the weapons stores. Sometimes these rooms host art exhibitions or performances so be sure to ask if anything is happening during your visit.

Explore the rooms which were used as prisons for Cretan rebels and learn about why some people believe the fort to be haunted. Make your way to the top and look through the ramparts toward the broad ocean before you. Imagine yourself as a Venetian guard scanning the horizon for Turkish invaders.

Koules Fortress is located on the western side of Heraklion harbor. It is closed on Mondays. There is a small charge for entry.

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Top Hotels Close to Koules Fortress

Lato Boutique Hotel
Lato Boutique Hotel
4 out of 5
15 Epimenidou Street, Heraklion, Crete Island
The price is CA $51 per night from Jan 22 to Jan 23

Located in the heart of Heraklion, this boutique hotel is within a 10-minute walk of 18 Anglon Square and Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Heraklion Port is ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (975 reviews)

"The staff was friendly and went out of their way to help make my stay more comfortable. I have the ability to travel even during these trying times. I would highly recommend this hotel."…"

Reviewed on Oct. 31, 2020

Lato Boutique Hotel
GDM Megaron Historical Monument Hotel
GDM Megaron Historical Monument Hotel
5 out of 5
9, D. Beaufort Street, Heraklion, Crete Island
The price is CA $108 per night from Feb 1 to Feb 2

Located in the heart of Heraklion, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Museum of the Battle for Crete and National Resistance, Heraklion Port, and ...

4.8/5Exceptional! (987 reviews)

"Great location, view over the harbour. The breakfasts were amazingly good."…"

Reviewed on Nov. 24, 2020

GDM Megaron Historical Monument Hotel
Olive Green Hotel
Olive Green Hotel
4 out of 5
Meramvellou & Idomeneos 22, Heraklion, Crete
The price is CA $60 per night from Jan 22 to Jan 23

Located in the heart of Heraklion, this eco-friendly hotel is steps from St. Titus Church (Agios Titos Cathedral) and Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Heraklion ...

4.8/5Exceptional! (292 reviews)

"Loved the sleek design of this hotel, the push to adopt eco-friendly practices, the bath products (we ordered more shampoo and body wash from the company upon our return, as we loved the mini ones so much), and thought the location was great. Super comfy bed. Only wish we stayed another night or ..."…"

Reviewed on Oct. 15, 2020

Olive Green Hotel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Best Lodging Options Near Koules Fortress

Lato Boutique Hotel
Lato Boutique Hotel
4 out of 5
15 Epimenidou Street, Heraklion, Crete Island
The price is CA $51 per night from Jan 22 to Jan 23
Lato Boutique Hotel
GDM Megaron Historical Monument Hotel
GDM Megaron Historical Monument Hotel
5 out of 5
9, D. Beaufort Street, Heraklion, Crete Island
The price is CA $108 per night from Feb 1 to Feb 2
GDM Megaron Historical Monument Hotel
Olive Green Hotel
Olive Green Hotel
4 out of 5
Meramvellou & Idomeneos 22, Heraklion, Crete
The price is CA $60 per night from Jan 22 to Jan 23
Olive Green Hotel
Everblue See View Apt
Everblue See View Apt
Heraklion, Crete
The price is CA $154 per night from Feb 15 to Feb 16
Everblue See View Apt
Infinity City Boutique Hotel
Infinity City Boutique Hotel
3.5 out of 5
Ariadnis 9, Heraklion
The price is CA $43 per night from Jan 21 to Jan 22
Infinity City Boutique Hotel
T Loft | Bright Loft Apartment
T Loft | Bright Loft Apartment
Heraklion, Crete
T Loft | Bright Loft Apartment
Luxury Apartment Marine
Luxury Apartment Marine
Heraklion, Crete
Luxury Apartment Marine
LA Casa Romantica AL Porto Veneziano
LA Casa Romantica AL Porto Veneziano
Heraklion, Crete
LA Casa Romantica AL Porto Veneziano
Kronos Hotel
Kronos Hotel
2 out of 5
2, Sof. Venizelou Str. and M. Agarathou, Heraklion, Crete Island
The price is CA $62 per night from Jan 22 to Jan 23
Kronos Hotel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.