Capital of Crete since 1971, Iraklion, with a population of approximately 140,000, is a modern town with grand avenues lined with shops. Although the old town has largely been rebuilt since the Second World War, many old buildings have been preserved as you can see with the Arsenale on the waterfront.

The Venetians arrived in the thirteenth century and under their rule Iraklion became a commercial and military centre. They erected many churches, public and private buildings and an arsenale. The Cretans, however hated the Venetians, who oppressed them with heavy taxes.

In the 1600s as in other parts of the Mediterranean the Turks were dominant, and in 1648 the Turks laid siege to Iraklion, a siege that was to last for twenty years with the death of some 30,000 Christians and 110,000 Muslims. It was said that the name of the town was not to be mentioned in the Sultan’s presence due to 69 unsuccessful assaults.

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