Fragokastello is a small historic village beside the Libyan Sea at the South of Crete. It is located on the area of Sfakia, at the south coast of west Crete, about 11km east of the Chora Sfakion village. It is famous for its castle, built by the Venetians in 1371, from which the village took its name (castle of the Franks). The castle is rectangular in shape, with strong walls and towers in each corner and is still preserved in good condition. Above the castle's gate there is carved the lion of Saint Mark between the grown of Quirini and Dolfin.
The castle was built to protect the coast from the pirates and its history is filled with many battles between Venetians, Turks and Greeks. Frangokastello has been captured and used by all armies (Venetians, Turks and Greeks) during the ages. The fortress was very basic, as this was an outlying post, not a full commercial centre such as those towns on the northern coast. According to a local myth a strange phenomenon called “Drosoulites” occurs every year in June. Around 4 – 6 June, on the anniversary of the battle of Fragokastello, local people claim that shadows of men in black wearing helmets and carrying swords appear at dawn. They advance from the castle to the chapel of St. Charalambos and are visible for about 10 min. People call them "Drosoulites" because of the morning dew (drosia=dew).
It was in 1828 that the great battle between the Turks and Commander Hatzimichalis Dalianis from Epirus, who had come to help the Cretans, took place. He did not listen to them and instead of guerilla war he wanted to face the Turks in an open confrontation in the plain in front of the castle. The result was tragic for Dalianis since the Turks came with thousands of soldiers to confront a few hundreds of Dalianis' soldiers. Dalianis himself was killed together with half of his army. The rest got away capitulating, after they were enclosed in the castle defending themselves for 7 days.
The legend says that Drosoulites are the spirits of the soldiers of Dalianis. As the phenomenon is observed when the sea is calm and the atmosphere is moist, one possible explanation of this is that it is a mirage from north Africa due to the refraction of the sun’s rays in the morning mist. The truth is that still there is no accepted scientific explanation. It is said that, in 1890, Turkish soldiers at Fragokastello ran away in panic when they saw the Drossoulites. Many years later, when the Germans occupied Crete, a military detachment saw the ghosts and, mistaking them for resistance fighters, opened fire on them.
Fragokastello is worth visiting for its natural beauty too. It lies in a surprisingly small plain in the shadow of Lefka Ori (White Mountains) and is surrounded by gorges, mountains and small villages, a fact that makes it a perfect place for hiking and a starting point for explorations. The fortress is placed on the top o beautiful sandy beach called “Orthi Ammos”. The fine sand is coloured white and the water is clear, shallow and warm.