Kazarma Fortress, in Sitia, northeast Crete, built in the 13th century, guarded this eastern Mediterranean port for its Venetian masters during the later period of the Byzantine era. Its name comes from the Italian "Casa di arma-" "guard barracks."
The blockhouse of the fort sits on the summit of a rise overlooking the picturesque town and harbor of Sitia. It is the only surviving portion of the town's defenses. The fortress was damaged in 1303, and again in 1508, by earthquakes. It suffered further damage in 1538 from an attack by the infamous pirate, Barbarosa. In the mid-1500's the Venetians began fortification works all over Crete, including Kazarma, but the fort was never really restored to its former strength.
When the Turks came in 1645, they "remodeled" the fort, changing its interior and building a new wall, and adding domes to the guardhouses.
Today Kazarma has been restored and hosts cultural events, chief of which is the Kornaria Festival, held in honor of the poet Vitzentos Kornaros, a native of Sitia. During this festival, held during July and August, concerts, plays, lectures, and art exhibitions are put on.