Heraklion Heraklion History

Heraklion History

Heraklion is the 5th in size city of Greece. Near the city's area there are settlements from the Neolithic Period. Even though there are just a few findings to prove it, it is believed that the city was the port of the ancient city of Knossos. The Saracens occupied the city on 824 AD and renamed it to "El Khandak" (Fort of the dike), when they dug the big dike around the city.

The city was re-occupied by the Byzantine Empire on 961 AD after numerous failed efforts. Two hundred years later the Empire was dismantled by the Crusaders that took over, and Cretan government was given to the Venetians for 1.000 silver coins.

During the Venetian occupation arts flourished and Candia, as the city was named by the Venetians, became the center of literature and arts. Many intellectuals and artists found refuge in Candia after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The Venetians started the construction of the city's fortification on 1462 and they needed more than a century to complete it. The walls had a total length of over 4 kilometers. They had a triangular shape and 7 bastions. The Venetians also built the port and many other buildings of magnificent architecture.

The strategic importance of the fortification was proved during the city's investment. The city's investment by the Turks lasted 21 years and was one of the longest in history. The final surrender was on 1669 after 100.000 Turkish and 30.000 Venetian casualties.

During the Turkish occupation the Cretans repined against the compulsory conversion to the Islamic faith. From 1820 onwards, a continuous guerilla / partisan warfare was done against the Turks.

Heraklion population was increased after 1913, when Crete was unified with motherland Greece. Due to her strategic location th city became a target for the German invasion forces on 1941. The German bombardment during the Battle of Crete caused great destruction to the city and after the war she was rebuilt to a great extent.

Initially Crete's capital was the city of Chania. The administrative center of Crete was transferred to Heraklion on 1971.

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