Irakleio's Harbour and Venetian Fortress
Irakleio’s Venetian Harbour is one of its most attractive features, and a stroll around here with a visit to the Venetian Fortress that guards it is a relaxing treat.
Irakleio's Harbour and Venetian Fortress
From the Fortress you get an excellent view not only of the city but of the remains of the Venetian shipyards, or Arsenali, across the water.
Close up, the Arsenali is none-too-impressive, surrounded as it is now by the modern city, but the view from the Fortress shows something of their old scale and style. A look at the model in the Historical Museum in Irakleio also helps re-create a picture of what life must have been like under Venetian rule.
Fishing Boats in Irakleio's Venetian Harbour
These 16th century shipyards would have resounded to the noise of large boats being built and repaired, where today it is the bobbing of the small boats belonging to Irakleio’s fishermen which sets the tone.
Fisherman and His Son in Irakleio's Venetian Harbour
The Fortress which dominates the harbour entrance was built in the period 1523-40, though there have been several earlier forts on the site, one being destroyed in an earthquake in 1303. The Venetians rebuilt it and named it the Rocca al Mare, the Rock in the Sea, and the impressive name is appropriate for the impressive building you discover beyond the entrance gate.
Irakleio's Venetian Fortress
Inside you step into a huge and dark vaulted room, with
other rooms and passageways leading off it. Ahead and to the right, a long and
steep slope leads to the upper levels, where visitors can climb the walls for
the excellent views of the harbour and city beyond, or out to sea. The walls
have some towers too which can be entered, for even greater height.
While here, mull over the most significant episode in the history of the Fortress. In 1647 the Venetian rulers of Irakleio and the rest of Crete retreated into the Fortress under siege from Turkish invaders. That siege was to last until 1669 and so became one of the longest in history. Eventually the Venetians had to succumb, but only after a long and bloody struggle during which it is said that 30,000 Venetians and 118,000 Turks lost their lives.
Sponges in a Net in Irakleio's Venetian Harbour
The Fortress has been extensively refurbished and some say it now looks more like a film set, but its scale remains remarkable. It now sometimes houses temporary exhibitions, and occasional plays and concerts on a stage set up in the upper level.
When an exhibition is on the opening hours sometimes change, so you may want to check in advance if planning a special visit.
The Winged Lion
The winged lion of St Mark the Evangelist was the emblem of
the Venetian Republic. It was depicted in all areas under its dominion, carved
in limestone or marble above gateways or on public buildings and
fortifications. Some 80 reliefs have been recorded on Crete.
Look for the Lions of St Mark above the entrance gate and on the seaward wall.
Where to Stay in Irakleio
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...
Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?
- Click on the HTML link code below.
- Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment,
your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.
In efforts to improve the passenger drop-off and pick-up experience and in view of the expected increase in international traveler arrivals, Athens International Airport (AIA) announced that it would…
Art lovers, active types and foodies are among the ‘travel tribes’ that select Thessaloniki, as their holiday destination, found a visitor profile study released this week by the Thessaloniki Hotels A…
The Greek Environment Ministry’s Central Council of Architecture (KESA) has decided to protect Athens’ Astor and Ideal cinemas designating the two historic landmarks as cultural monuments, said the Gr…
Thessaloniki’s highly anticipated metro, to serve almost 250,000 commuters a day once completed, is almost ready with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis taking a test ride this week. Mitsota…
The nightlife and food are two of Thessaloniki’s strong points attracting more visitors to the northern port city, found a satisfaction study released this week by the Thessaloniki Hotels Association…
Passenger arrivals across all airports in Greece marked a sharp increase in the first four months of the year up by 7.4 percent compared to pre-Covid 2019 and by 38.4 percent over the same period in 2…
British holidaymakers flying on easyJet are picking Greece this year, according to a poll conducted by the budget carrier. More specifically, according to the survey carried out on 2,000 British adult…
Ride-hailing company Uber recently announced that it will launch a new seasonal private charter boat service on the Greek island of Mykonos. Available from mid-June to October, “Boat” will be an on-de…
The Greek island of Mykonos is the top most searched for international destination by US travelers seeking Airbnb accommodation in the first quarter of the year, according to the Airbnb 2023 Summer re…
Greece’s 14 regional airports exceeded pre-Covid 2019 levels last month handling a total of 1.6 million passengers, said managing company Fraport Greece. More specifically, according to Fraport data…