Venetian Walls and Gates of Heraklion
Many centuries ago, Heraklion was considered so important to its Venetian occupiers that they built a set of walls strong enough to withstand a siege that lasted a staggering 21 years and cost the lives of many, many fighters on both sides: Venetians and Cretans on one side, and Turks on the other.
Heraklion walls are more than four and a half kilometers in length, and everywhere wide and strongly built in a triangular shape, it encompasses what we might call ‘Old Heraklion’ in a series of straight lines between its original seven ‘bastions’, or individual forts, and five gates, with the sea as its base.
I am no historian and can only provide a few facts. For a much more detailed account of the history, I recommend a visit to the Historical Museum of Heraklion. This way, you will have an idea of the ferocity of battle that gunpowder, grenades, and cannon brought to test the strength of the walls, and of the determination shown on each side to succeed. It is said that the Turks lost 100,000 fighters, to the defenders 30,000. It is true to say that the fighting was savage, and was recalled centuries later by an Herakliot who wrote a poem in 1941, as German soldiers seemed to be marching towards the gates, that began: