Heraklion was known during the Byzantine period by the name of Castro. It was a small, walled town. Arab Saracens occupied Crete in 823 AD and chose Heraklion as their capital. The city attained great prosperity, the port however, became a warehouse for pirate booty and a center for hostage trading. The Byzantines retook Crete in 961AD. In the 13th century, Heraklion came under Venetian rule. Maintaining it as the island’s capital, they surrounded it with a large wall, making it the strongest fortress in the Eastern Mediterranean, the largest portion of the walls still standing today.
The great painter El Greco was born here in 1541.
A siege of the city by the Ottoman Turks began in 1647 and lasted for 22 years. The city was destroyed following its fall, but the Ottomans also chose it to be their new capital. Heraklion was liberated in 1913 along with the rest of Crete.
Gastronomy – Local products
The region of Heraklion is famous for its wine that accompanies amazing local dishes such as snails (chochli), artichokes with broad beans, kokoras krasatos, etc. You will discover it by following the local wine routes of the wineries to be visited as well as the PDO region of Archanes.
Excellent olive oil is produced in the area. Not to miss the kalitsounia and pitaridia with fennel or cheese that we find everywhere in Crete in many local variations.