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Standing between the mountains of Psiloritis and Lassithi, Heraklio is a city with many names. Strabo (1st cent. BC) refers to a Minoan harbour named “Heraklion”; in the Byzantine period, the settlement became known as “Kastro”, while after the Arab conquest, a moat (Khandak in Arabic) was built around the city, from which the name “Chandax” derived in the Byzantine period, to be transliterated into “Candia” during Venetian rule. Officially Heraklio took its current name in 1922.
Birthplace of Nikos Kazantzakis and Domenico Theotokopoulos (El Greco), Heraklion is a modern city and an important commercial and economic centre of eastern Crete. A careful exploration will reveal the many different faces of its long history.
The massive Venetian walls surrounding the city made it the best defended Medieval harbour in the Mediterranean. The writer Nikos Kazantzakis is buried in the Martinengo battlement.