Koules or "The Castle", as it was called, is situated at the entrance of the old port of Iraklio. It acquired its final form between 1523 and 1540 and was named "Rocca al Mare" (rock at the sea). Above the gate of the Castle there is the sculptured Lion of the Democracy of St. Marcus, the symbol of Venice. It housed authorities, prisons, and storage rooms. In addition, it protected the city and the port from the enemies. During the Turkish Occupation, it was named "Koules" (fortress). Nowadays, Koules is used for various cultural events (exhibitions, music, theatre).

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