The castle, “Terra” as the locals used to call it, was the administrative center of the island throughout the Venetian period. It is here that was found the seat and residence of the Venetian “Proveditor” and other officials, as well as of the local Council of the Nobles.
After Britain took possession of the island in 1812, the new dominants had also taken care of the fortress; they repaired both the walls and the main buildings within the castle, they built new ones and they provided for a water supply system.
During the 1970s’ the walls were partly restored by the Greek Archaeological Service, which also carried out excavations during the 1980s’. The excavations brought to light a lot of buildings of all periods, from antiquity up to the times of the British domination, which clearly evidenced for a continuous use of the place since prehistoric times.
The most important of those buildings are the Byzantine church of Sotiras (or Pantocratoras, or San Salvatore or Domo), dated in the 12 th century; the church of Aghios Frangiskos (St. Francis) is a three-aisled Basilica of the 14 th century; the single-aisled basilica of Aghia Varvara (Santa Barbara), the church of Aghios Ioannis Prodromos (St. John the Baptist), the church of “Panaghia Laurentena” (Holy Virgin) and the church of Aghios Ioannis Theologos (St. John the Theologian) are all dated in the 15 th century.
It is also worth mentioning the buildings of the Venetian prisons, the powder keg, the British officials’ ground, the British barracks and the British government house, which also served as military quarters.
Access to the castle is possible by bus, by taxi or by rented and private car and motorbikes.