Heraklion’s exact chronology of establishment cannot be determined. Evidence does not leave any doubts on the relationship of the ancient Heraklion with the today’s big city of Crete island. From a grammatical view the name is linked with the hero Hercules, who was praised in Crete with great honor. Nevertheless, no information has survived, which ensures the existence of a sanctuary of Hercules in this city. The history of Heraklion during the period of domination of the Roman Empire in the island of Crete is unfortunately not survived by the resources available, but sporadic evidence confirms that the city was in existence during the 3rd A.C. century.
An ancient deposition that confirms the existence of a fortified city, at the place where modern Heraklion lies is an inscription which was found in the harbor of Heraklion and dates to 671 A.C. It is believed that the inscription is referred to an invasion of Arabs. During the Byzantine period it is known that Arab pirates where invading regularly the Cretan coastline during the middle ages of the 7th century. The Middle Ages period history of Heraklion starts with the conquest of the island (probably at 824 A.C.). Arabs from Spain exploited the deep internal crisis which existed in the Byzantine Empire at the beginning of the 9th century due to the defection of Thomas, they managed to seize the island and consolidate on the island. Chandakas, which was the new name of Heraklion during the Arab occupation, was the centre and base of operations for the Arab pirates. The Arabs created a ditch around the city was probably the reason for the new name “Chandakas” (Rabd el Khandak = city’s stronghold). For 136 years Chandakas was victimized by piracies. Byzantium attempted to liberate Crete and dislocate the conquerors. Six large campaigns are referred in historical resources, and all failed to succeed. Byzantium suffered from these campaigns, in both economical and military ways. At last Nikiforos Fokas the island was redeemed in March 961 A.C. The new administrative centre which established after that, was fortified behind a high walls which is preserved even today.
After the capture of Constantinople in 1204 A.C. for the Crusaders, Heraklion was sold to the Venetians, which aimed to operate permanently in Crete. Capital of this new big Venetian occupation is Chandakas. In 1363-1366 Chandakas was suffering a deep internal crisis. In August of 1363 an effort of defection emerged, but failed, for the abolition of the Venetian domination on the island, which was known as “Defection of St. Titus”. Venice reacted abruptly and efficiently and the movement suppressed.
During the last years of the Venetian domination, both spirit and arts were in great evolution. The result of this period was the great rich Cretan literature. This promising period of spiritual evolution was disrupted by the Turkish occupation. After Turks seized Chania (1645) and Rethimno (1646), they turned against Chandakas. The siege of the fortress by the Turks lasted approximately 22 years (1648-1669) and it is one of the greatest militaristic events of the middle age history. In 4th October 1669 Turks seized the city and the once rich and large capital of the Kingdom of Crete, entered a new terrible era, the Ottoman domination (1669-1898).
With the eruption of the revolution of 1821, Chandakas suffered the most terrible massacre of all times. The city is still the capital of general administration of Crete and during the period of Egyptian domination (1830-1840). After the terrible massacre which took place in the city in 25 August 1898, the English forced the Turkish army to abandon Heraklion (2nd November 1898). ting bombings and hundreds of paratroopers. The city was honored for the bravery of its people with the First Class Military Cross.
The resistance of Heraklion was also remarkable during the invasion of the Nazis and in the battle of Crete, which suffered many months of exhaus