Some of the most beautiful places of Crete can be reached neither by bike nor on foot. One such place is the desert island of Imeri Gramvoussa, which can only be reached by boat from Kasteli.
Imeri Gramvoussa (Tame Gramvoussa) is anything but what its name implies. In reality, it was a site of hard battles and a pirate nest. The story starts in 1579, when the Venetians, rulers of Crete, decided to build a fort to protect their ships which sailed these waters on their way to and from Venice. Three years later, on the top of the steep rock stood a well-built fort that was unassailable indeed. Its water supply came from two wells and five large cisterns and it was soon filled with weapons and ammunition; in 1630 the list included 24 cannons of different bore, 4000 cannon-balls and 40,000 pounds of gunpowder.
When Crete was conquered by the Turks, the Morozini Treaty provided that this fort, together with the forts of Souda and Spinaloga, would remain under Venetian control. But the Turks had other designs, and they used the only effective means they had to conquer it. They bribed the officer in charge, who opened the door for them, turned over the keys, said “Welcome to Gramvoussa,” and then boarded a Turkish vessel for Constantinople where he lived to be a very old man, dishonest but rich!