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Agios Nikolaos city The city of Agios Nikolaos is built on the location of the ancient "Lato pros Kamara - port of Lato Etera". Both towns formed one administrative unit, which flourished during the 3rd century. Both worshipped goddess Elithyeia (goddess of childbirth) and they had the same coins - with Elithyeia or Artemis (Diana) on one side and Hermes Lation on the other - as well as their own economy. The Latians, contrary to other towns, which were almost constantly in war with other cities, were in good terms with their adjoining cities of Elounda, Driros, Milatos and Minoa. There is not enough reference about the Byzantine period. During the Venetian occupation (1204-1669) Genoan pirates built a castle on top of the Kefali hill (prefecture hill), which was renamed by the Venetians to Merabello and gave its name to the whole region. The castle has been destroyed by the…
Cathedral of Saint Minas The imposing church of Saint Minas was built in 1862 and symbolizes the gratitude of the people of Heraklion to the Saint for the protection offered to them during the period of the Turkish rule. St. Minas is the patron Saint of Heraklion. The day of his celebration (November 11) is a holiday for the city. Many legends surround his name, narrating stories how he protected the city in many occasions, like when the Turks attacked and even during the German bombardments in 1941. The bomb exhibited right next to the Cathedral of St. Minas, by the staircase that leads to the plateau of St. Catherine, stands witness of the Saint’s protection as it fell at this point in 1941 but never exploded. The famous Cretan writer Kazantzakis often refers to him in his book “Captain Michalis” (UK title “Freedom and Death”): “On midnight, when the…
Heraklion city Heraklion is the largest city of Crete and one of Greece’s major urban centers. Its development begun in the wake of the 9th century AD (in antiquity, Knossos was the island’s most important centre, followed by Gortyn). In later times, Heraklion came under Arabic, Venetian and Ottoman rule; its conquerors initially gave it the name Khandaq or Handak which was corrupted to Candia. Among the most outstanding sights of Heraklion are the fortification walls that delimit the “old city”. The first fortifications were built by the Arabs and were later reinforced by the Venetians (15th century). From the seven bastions, only the Martinengo bastion survives to this day; there visitors will find the tomb of the renowned writer N. Kazantzakis, overlooking the city. From the four gates to the city, the most important is Chanioporta (1570) with the characteristic winged Lion of Saint Marc and the New Gate (1587)…
The Venetian Marine Fortress of Heraklion The Venetian fortress “Rocca a Mare”, “Castello a Mare”, “Castello”, “Su Kulesi” or “Koules” is situated at the entrance to the Venetian harbor of Heraklion. It is one of the so-called marine fortresses which functioned as forward bastions on the sea within the framework of more general architectural planning. It was occasionally combined with protection of the commercial harbor and docks, as was the case here. According to historical testimony, there was probably a tower at the same site during the second Byzantine or even the Arab period. We do not know what form the fortress had during the first period of the Venetian rule. Early 16th c. Venetian documents mention that the tower had suffered damages and was practically in ruins. With the prevalence of the bastion system (fronte bastionato) and radical changes in the form of fortifications, the old fortress could not…
Samaria Gorge The Samaria Gorge is a National Park of Greece on the island of Crete - a major tourist attraction of the island - and a World's Biosphere Reserve. The gorge is in southwest Crete in the regional unit of Chania. It was created by a small river running between the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and Mt. Volakias. There are a number of other gorges in the White Mountains. While some say that the gorge is 18 km long, this distance refers to the distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village of Agia Roumeli. In fact, the gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli. The walk through Samaria National Park is 13 km long, but one has to walk…
Aptera Ancient City Aptera was one of the most important city-states of Crete. It was already mentioned in Linear B inscriptions (13th – 14th century B.C.) and continued to exist until the 7th century A.D., when it was destroyed by a strong earthquake in combination with the attacks of the Saracens. Its excellent position on an extensive flat area of the hill, dominating the southeastern side of Souda Bay and controlling at the same time the greater area around it, proved to be ideal for the development of the city into a strong commercial and cultural centre. With its two harbours, Minoa (modern Marathi) and Kissamos, at the entrance of Souda Bay, it ensured control of every activity at sea. The written sources and the results of the excavation research until now have shown that the period of the city’s greatest prosperity were the early Hellenistic times (end of 4th…
Holy Monastery of Agia Triada of Jagarolon The Monastery of Agia Triada of Tzagarolon is one of the richest and most beautiful monasteries in Crete. It is built near the airport of Chania, in the position Tzobomylos of the Cape Melecha and at the foothills of Stavros Mount. The distance from Chania is only 15km. The monastery was built by the Venetian nobles Jeremiah and Lawrence Tzagarolo. Jeremiah was a famous scholar of his era with rich education and was a friend of the Patriarch of Alexandria, Meletios Pigas. Jeremiah himself was a candidate for Patriarch of Constantinople. Moreover, Jeremiah designed and built the monastery complex of the monastery, being affected by the architect Sebastiano Serlio from Verona, Italy. The monastery today hosts a small museum with various pictures and icons. The most important are the 12th century cloth for covering the altar, the icons of St. John the Theologian…
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