We arrived in Paleochora town on the shores of the LibyanSea. want to go to the old castle, located above the seaside town’s houses. Well, of course, Paleochora is not a traditional village, but from above it looks cute with it’s little castle while the picturesque peninsula is rubbing off smoothly towards the Libyansea, amidst delightful beaches.
The castle is no more than 500 meters from the village.
And my photographer insisted to go all the way with the jeep until the very end of the road. And I listened to him saying yes… Well thus far. It is early afternoon and the sun sparks on the rubble. The smooth sea wind smells warm and savory. In the background one can see the Gavdos Island which blurs to the south.
Well I assure you that over the castle there is no trace of celery …
“And what happened?” I can hear you ask.
This is because when the castle was built by the Venetians was named Castel Selino, as Selino was called the area, probably because it had much celery (selino in Greek)! I mean really a lot of celery!
And because you are probably bored to listen about my lazy photographer; read instead what was here before many many years: The castle of Selino was built in 1279 by the Venetian duke of Crete Marino Gradonigo (or Gradeningo).
Over the years the castle has had hard times, because it was not well constructed and also because it was far from the great Venetian cities, so the Venetians could not defend it.
Its story is a story of… demolitions.
At first it was demolished by the Cretan rebels of Vardas Kallergis in 1332. Vardas devastated the castle and slaughtered the Castellan Ermolaos Velenio, his family and the entire garrison.
Next in the “serial” of demolitionists was the notorious Turkish pirate Barbarossa who also dismantles the castle in 1539. Since then the castle was in ruins, totally ravaged. The governor of Chania Benetto Dolfin restored it of course in 1595 but in vain.
Because shortly after there were the Turks who came here and they demolished it again in 1653.
So there are not many great things to see: just the towers and the once mighty ramparts (recent excavations revealed parts of the fort and buildings). However, Paleochora looks gracious from up here.
Beneath the castle between concrete houses we discern some excellent specimens of the old village. It’s in the Gavdiotika neighborhood, the settlement created by islanders from Gavdos that overwintered here for a very long time, searching for a better quality life under the Cretan sun.
“All who stayed here are from Gavdos shouts from her balcony Mrs. Eutyxia Vailakaki who watched us hanging with the cameras on the ramparts and started the conversation. All the balconies at Gavdiotika are oriented to look at Gavdos of course. The old stone houses are built just on the edge of the coastal rocks. In the past, the area which became the new harbor ,there were then 5 small fishing ports on the rocks below Gavdiotika,but the coastal road swept them away …
Fortunately the castle that reminds me of celery escaped. It was recognized as an historical monument since 1940 and blocked the crazy development brought by the explosion of tourism around the mid 1970’s.
Nice castle … and a nicer view … Everything was good.
But, we are not good at all … because our car… has broke down…
Yes, really… It just went out –the battery went dead.
So we spent some more time at the Castle of…celery. Till the Road Assistance came which on top of it all swore at us because we had driven up here … (thanks… to the laziness of my photographer).
In the evening fatigue had managed to demolish us… just like the castle of Celery …
Where am I?
Paleochora is located at the south of Chania region and 75 km away from the city of Chania. The quickest way is to get there through Kantanos village.