Kissamos – Kastelli(updated August 5, 2007)
Kissamos – Kastelli is a coastal town in the north-west of Crete on the Bay of Kissamos. It lies approximately 40 kilometers west of Chania. About 15.000 people live in the region of Kissamos, of which about 5,000 live in Kissamos - Kastelli itself.
In ancient times Kissamos was the port of Polyrrinia which lies about 7 kilometers inland. The remains of the Roman Kissamos are below the current buildings. In the Byzantine period Kissamos was a diocese. This diocese existed until the ninth century. During the Venetian period the village flourished. When the Venetians built a fort in the town, it was renamed into Kastelli (Castelli di Kissamos). The place wore that name until the year 1966, when the authorities felt that the place was too often confused with another place with the same name, 40 miles southeast of Heraklion. It was decided to change the name back to Kissamos. People from nearby still call the place Kastelli, or Kissamos – Kastelli.
Currently Kissamos – Kastelli is a quiet town. There are few tourists and the town is not really set to them. There is therefore no official Tourist Office. Along the boulevard are some restaurants where it is very quiet at daytime. But at night the place awakes. The town has a post office, there are a number of shops and businesses where cars can be rented and excursions can be arranged. There are a number of reasonable and affordable pensions and hotels. In addition, there are 3 camp sites in the town and its environs. The campsite in the village Drapania (6 kilometers from Kissamos – Kastelli) is very good.
Kissamos is perfectly suited as a base to make trips from. A visit to the city Chania for example belongs to the possibilities. Even a visit to Polyrrinia is worthwhile. From the village of Ano Paleokastro it is a steep climb to the ruins of this city from the time of the Dorian's, which founded the city six centuries before our era. The Dorian's fought a continuous war from Kissamos against the Kydonians that established themselves near Chania. The archaeological excavations of Falasarna can be visited from Kissamos. From the sixth century before the beginning of our era Falasarna is inhabited. It was one of the ports of Polyrrinia, but later, the residents of both cities became enemies. At the time of the Roman invasion of Crete Falasarna became home to pirates. There is little remaining of the old Falasarna.
From Kissamos you can make boat trips to the islands Agria Gramvousa and Gramvousa. At the 137-meter-high cliff at Gramvousa a fort was built by the Venetians in the year 1579 and again in 1630. Under Turkish domination of Crete this small island remained in Venetian hands. In the year 1692 an Italian commander and bought the castle and surrendered it to the Ottomans (Turks). The Cretan people happen to conquer the castle through a trick in the year 1830. They dressed themselves as Turks and were allowed into the castle. When inside, they conquered the castle. Around 3,000 resistance fighters took shelter on the island. From the castle they took care not only for resistance in Crete, but were also guilty of piracy. The Greek government was severely disadvantaged by this. They made an English / French garrison occupy the island in the year 1828. Large parts of the fort have survived. Most excursions to Gramvousa do the Balos Lagoon to. This lagoon consists of shallow water, with very white sand bottom, where you can swim or walk through. At the horizon the island Gramvousa is clearly visible.
From the port of Kissamos, 3 kilometers west of the city, ferries from ANEN Lines to Polamós on the island Antikythira, the port of Athens; Piraeus and the islands Gytheion, Kalamata, Kythira leave during the summer. The 50 kilometer boat trip to Polamós takes 2 hours. The ferry usually leaves at around ten thirty in the morning.
By bus Kissamos is reachable from Chania. The bus rides approximately 14 times per day during summer. From Chania bus drive lasts about one hour. Chania of course is accessible by bus from Rethymno and Heraklion. From Chersonissos, Malia and Agios Nikolaos an extra transfer is required at Heraklion. The long journey makes a day trip from the last three places and Heraklion not an option. With a rental Kissamos is easily reached. From all points east of Chania, the best direction is to drive the main road to Chania. In Chania, you continue on the E65 in direction of Kissamos. On the go signposts both Kissamos, Kastelli as Kissamos - Kastelli are mentioned.