HERAKLION, RETHYMNO & CHANIA - SEPTEMBER 2006
HERAKLION, IRAKLION OR CANDIA
Heraklion, the fourth largest city in Greece, is the largest in Crete and its capital city. Founded in 824 AD by the Saracens, close to the site of the Palace of Knossos, it was ruled by the Byzantine (from 961), sold to Venice in 1204, conquered by the Ottoman in 1669 (after a bloody siege that lasted 22 years), included in the British Zone during the Great Power Supervision (1898-1908), part of the Cretan State in 1908, and finally incorporated in Greece in 1913, as well as all the rest of the Island!
"VENETIAN FORT - The importance of the port grew during the Byzantine period, reaching its glory days in Venetian times. The Venetians placed here a major trading centre and one of the main naval stations for their fleet. Thus, important works were made, including the building of walls around the harbour. The Fort was built in 1211, and was initially named "Rocca al Mare" (rock at sea). Collapsed by the earthquake of 1303, was rebuilt during the years 1523-1540"
"THE MOROSINI FOUNTAIN, a landmark of Heraklion and one of the city's finest monuments, is named after Francesco Morosini, Captain-General of the Venetian forces in Crete and future Doge of Venice from 1688 to 1694, during the Great Turkish War. The eight-lobed basin is adorned with a relief including scenes from mythology and marine life, together with coats of arms. Above the basin are four lions from whose mouth water flows. The fountain had a statue of Poseidon, which was later destroyed"
RETHYMNO, RETHYMNON OR RHITHYMNOS
Rethymno developed when the Venetians created an intermediate commercial port between Heraklion and Chania. Today's Old Rethymno, one of the best preserved old towns in Greece, was almost entirely built by the Venetians"
"FOUR MARTYR CHURCH - When you get to Rhetymno, the easiest place to leave your car is the parking lot in front of the municipal garden (apparently an old Ottoman cemetery), at Plateia Tessaron Martyron (Four Martyrs' Square). The Square and the Church got their name from the four Christian Martyrs decapitated by Turkish troops in 1824 on this site"
"THE PORTA GUORA, the only intact remnant of the Venetian city walls, leads into the old town central square, where the beautiful Loggia and the Rimondi Fountain were situated"
"OLD TOWN ALLEYS - Shopping paradises..."
"THE RIMONDI FOUNTAIN, re-built in 1623, has three lion heads (from where fresh drinkable water still flows) and four columns with Corinthian capitals at the top. It was a fundamental water source in the sixteenth century"
"LIGHTHOUSE - The Venetian lighthouse is still there today"
"THE VENETIAN PORT at the Old Town is nowadays the main seafood restaurant centre of Rethymno"
"TAVERNA KNOSSOS - With Maria taking the order and his brother as a show-man, it's one of the nicest and most reliable fish restaurant in town. Looking somehow a French bistro, is included in the «Guide du Routard» and, no wonder, Maria speaks French..."
"VENETIAN McDONALDS? No way!"
"FORTEZZA - View of the impressive Venetian Fortress (a bit blurred). Built in 1573, it was one of the largest Venetian castles ever built with four bastions and three gates. It didn't resist long, however..."
CHANIA, HANIA OR CANEA
Located on the west of Crete, 70 Km from Rethymno and 145 from Heraklion, Chania is the most densely populated area outside the Athens and Thessaloniki areas. Chania was the site of a Minoan settlement (Cydonia), saw the Greek domain, the Byzantine ruling, flourished under the Venetians and declined under the Ottoman (from 1645 through 1898). In 1898, the Great Powers made Chania the capital of the Cretan State, with Prince George of Greece, the High Commissioner of Crete, living there. In 1908, Eleftherios Venizelos, born near Chania, established a revolutionary government, recognized by the Great Powers. His election as prime minister of Greece (1910) was the last step before Crete was united with Greece on December 1st, 1913. Occupied by German forces during WWII, it became a tourist destination in the seventies, though the capital was moved to Heraklion in 1971!
"CHANIA PORT - Chania's Old Town was heavily bombed during World War II; nevertheless it's considered the most beautiful urban district on Crete, especially the Venetian harbour"
"THE FOUNTAIN at Eleftherios Venizelos Square"
"PANAGIA TRIMARTIRIS - The Orthodox Cathedral of Chania was built around the 13th century. During the Turkish era, it is said that the church was converted into a soap factory but was still regarded as a sacred place..."
"CASA DELFINO, an elegant 17th Century Venetian mansion, is the only luxury hotel near the Old Venetian Harbour"
"RESTAURANT on the wall of the Venetian Harbour"
"MOSQUE OF THE JANISSARIES - The Turkish mosque (Hassan Pasha) was built in 1645. It houses now an art gallery"
"VENETIAN HARBOUR Restaurants (tourist traps?)"
"NIGHT VIEW - Old Chania Venetian Port"