Venetian walls

Nikos Kazantzakis’ grave
Nikos Kazantzakis’

The Venetian city walls of Heraklion still stand in a good shape. The Venetian occupiers started fortifying the city in 1518 and the construction of the walls lasted approximately 100 years. The walls impress the visitors even today, as it was a major construction, one of the greatest fortification works in the 16th and 17th century in Europe. These walls protected the city from the siege of the powerful Ottoman army, the longest siege in history (1648-1669). In 1669 the French troops were the first to abandon the city and then the other European forces did so. The Venetians were betrayed by Barozzi, a Venetian engineer who showed the Ottomans a secret passage to the city. On 27 September 1669, Heraklion – or Handax as it was then called - was conquered by the Ottomans.

Chanioporta view from inside
view from inside

The ground plan of the Venetian city walls of Heraklion is triangular-shaped with a perimeter of approximately 3km. It has 7 bastions: bastion Sabbionara at the NE corner, bastion Vitturi at the SE corner, bastion Iisou (Jesus bastion) near the Kenouria Porta (New Gate), bastion Bethlehem (or Kommeno Benteni as it is also called by the locals) and bastion Pantokratoras (bastion of the Almighty) near the Chanioporta. In 1669 the Ottomans entered the city from the Agios Andreas bastion, which stood at the NW corner of the walls. Nikos Kazantzakis, the prominent Cretan writer is buried at the Martinegro bastion, at the southern part of the walls.

Chanioporta from the outside
from the outside

The city walls had several gates, such as the Pili Pantokratora (Gate of the Almighty) or Chanioporta, as it also called because through this gate Heraklion was connected with Chania and with western Crete in general.

Pili tou Iisou or Kenouria Porta (Gate of Jesus or New Gate): It is the latest gate and is preserved in a very good shape.

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