Listed 36 sub titles with search on: History
for wider area of: "CRETE
It is also interesting that the town of Paleohora itself is built
on top of ancient Kalamidis.
In 1278 the Venetian general (commander) Marinos Gradengos had the
historical castle of Selino built on an elevation overlooking the Libian
Sea. This memorial of the Venetian era - named the Fortezza, remains today
behind the village of Paleohora.
All of Crete is
a large history book. One story that is buried deep in the ages.
In the larger area of Paleohora, in the ancient times and in particular
in the Hellenistic era (from 400 B.C.), there were there were many city-states
which had control of the smaller cities (villages).
These city-states developed and remained powerful because of thier
physical position on the side of the mountains which provided shelter from pirate
The larger area of Paleohora is rich in medieval Byzantine memorials
and you can easily visit many small Byzantine chapels with interesting and rare
wall paintings as well as the remains of early Christian churches.
A few of areas which you can visit from Paleohora are:
and naturally tens of other unrivaled beauty spots.
Sacred War (356-346 BC)
Archidamus was king of the Lacedaemonians for twenty-three years,
and Agis his son succeeded to the throne and ruled for fifteen1 years. After the
death of Archidamus his mercenaries, who had participated in plundering the shrine,
were shot down by the Lucanians, whereas Phalaecus, now that he had been driven
out of Lyctus, attempted to besiege Cydonia (343/2 B.C.). He had constructed siege
engines and was bringing them up against the city when lightning descended and
these structures were consumed by the divine fire, and many of the mercenaries
in attempting to save the engines perished in the flames. Among them was the general
Phalaecus. But some say that he offended one of the mercenaries and was slain
by him. The mercenaries who survived were taken into their service by Eleian exiles,
were then transported to the Peloponnese, and with these exiles were engaged in
war against the people of Elis. When the Arcadians joined the Eleians in the struggle
and defeated the exiles in battle, many of the mercenaries were slain and the
remainder, about four thousand, were taken captive. After the Arcadians and the
Eleians had divided up the prisoners, the Arcadians sold as booty all who had
been apportioned to them, while the Eleians executed their portion because of
the outrage committed against the oracle.
This extract is from: Diodorus Siculus, Library (ed. C. H. Oldfather, 1989). Cited Oct 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.
- Phalaecus: Perseus Encyclopedia
The Battle of Crete
- Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Wellington, New Zealand, WebPages
- Monastery og Preveli WebPages
Metellus victory over Lasthenes
The island of Crete seemed to be favorably disposed (B.C. 74) towards
Mithridates, king of Pontus, from the beginning, and it was said that they furnished
him mercenaries when he was at war with the Romans. It is believed also that they
recommended to the favor of Mithridates the pirates who then infested the sea,
and openly assisted them when they were pursued by Marcus Antonius. When Antonius
sent legates to them on this subject, they made light of the matter and gave him
a disdainful answer. Antonius forthwith made war against them, and although he
did not accomplish much, he gained the title of Creticus for his work. He was
the father of the Mark Antony who, at a later period, fought against Octavius
Ceasar at Actium. When the Romans declared war against the Cretans, on account
of these things, the latter sent an embassy to Rome to treat for peace. The Romans
ordered them to surrender Lasthenes, the author of the war against Antonius, and
to deliver up all their pirate ships and all the Roman prisoners in their hands,
together with 300 hostages, and to pay 4000 talents of silver.
As the Cretans would not accept these conditions, Metellus was chosen
as the general against them. He gained a victory over Lasthenes at Cydonia. The
latter fled to Gnossus, and Panares delivered over Cydonia to Metellus on condition
of his own safety. While Metellus was besieging Gnossus, Lasthenes set fire to
his own house there, which was full of money, and fled from the place. Then the
Cretans sent word to Pompey the Great, who was conducting the war against the
pirates, and against Mithridates, that if he would come they would surrender themselves
to him. As he was then busy with other things, he commanded Metellus to withdraw
from the island, as it was not seemly to continue a war against those who offered
to give themselves up, and he said that he would come to receive the surrender
of the island later. Metellus paid no attention to this order, but pushed on the
war until the island was subdued, making the same terms with Lasthenes as he had
made with Panares. Metellus was awarded a triumph and the title of Creticus with
more justice than Antonius, for he actually subjugated the island (B.C. 69).
Appian, The Foreign Wars (Sic.1.6., ed. Horace White, 1899)
Catastrophes of the place
The destruction of Lyttos
- Perseus: Polybius, Histories
Bombardment from Germans
Historical Agios Nikolaos
The history of Agios Nikolaos begins in ancient times when it was
the port for Lato, a powerful city during Hellenistic times. The harbour was still
used during Roman times and the first Byzantine period although its importance
had diminished. After this, it disappeared from history only to reappear in 1206
when the Genoans built the fortress of Mirabelo and gave its name to the town
and bay. An earthquake destroyed the fortress and no trace of it remains. In the
sixteenth century, the Venetians gave the town its current name, taken from the
chapel of Agios Nikolaos on the peninsula of Limena. During the Turks' rule the
town was uninhabited and only after 1870 did people move here, mainly to escape
from Turkish persecution.
This text is cited Feb 2003 from the Crete TOURnet URL below, which contains images.
The ancient city of Ierapytna (a Doric name) stood on the site of
present day Ierapetra. It was in a strategic location on the shortest north-to-south
axis of Crete, but it had strong rival cities, Praisos to its east and Viannos
to its west. Praisos was the most powerful town of eastern Crete in about 300
B.C., but Ierapytna destroyed it in 155 B.C. and became itself the city with the
most land under its sovereignty in all Crete. It resisted Roman invasion and was
the last Cretan city the Romans conquered. After surrendering, Ierapytna became
an important port due to its proximity to Egypt. Ierapetra maintained its importance
during the first Byzantine period, but was destroyed by the Arabs. The Venetians
built the fortress and harbour and in 1626, they enlarged and reinforced it. Recently,
the castle was restored by the city.
In 1647, the Turks captured the town. You can still see remnants of their occupation
in the old town near the harbour, such as the remains of a Turkish fountain in
front of a derelict mosque (now being renovated). According to legend, Napoleon
spent the night here on his way to Egypt in 1798.
This text is cited Feb 2003 from the Crete TOURnet URL below, which contains image.
Itanos was an important settlement from Minoan times until the Christian
era. It was particularly powerful during the Greek era and it was flourishing
by the seventh century B.C. Itanos was continuously at war with its neighbours,
originally with Praisos, and when Ierapytna destroyed Praisos, Itanos was at war
with Ierapytna. An important reason for the conflict was dispute over the control
of the Temple of Zeus in Palaikastro. The inscription in the monastery of Toplou
shows that the two cities asked for the arbitration of Magnesia of Asia Minor
in 132 B.C. in order to resolve the conflict.
This text is cited Mar 2003 from the Crete TOURnet URL below, which contains images.
Matala was originally the harbour of Festos during the Minoan and
Greek period, and when Gortyn defeated Festos in 220 B.C., it became the harbour
of Gortyn. Traces of the ancient settlement are seen on the bottom of the sea.
Matala is famous for its man-made caves which were first inhabited during the
prehistoric period. Tombs found in the caves date from Greek, Roman and Early
Destruction and end of the town
By Ierapytnians, 155 B.C.
Foundation/Settlement of the place
Samians founded Cydonia in Crete
It was against this ever-victorious Polycrates that the Lacedaemonians now made war, invited by the Samians who afterwards founded Cydonia in Crete.
- Perseus: Herodotus, The Histories (ed. A. D. Godley, 1920)
A Brief History of Crete
- Pages of the University of Crete, author Spyros Koutsoupakis
Crete, the island of the brave
- Cretan Association Omonoia, of NY, WebPage
- Pancretan Association of America, WebPage
Historically and Archaelogically, the hill of Kasteli is one of the most significant parts of the city, as it has been inhabited since Neolithic times. The factors which contributed to the uninterrupted use of Kasteli as a residential area were : its geographic position and the fertile plain on the south, both of which contributed to making the district an important commercial and transport junction. Excavations have brought to light remains dating from the first Minoan period (2800-2000 B.C.). The houses of that period are large with well constructed rooms. The walls and floors are painted with a bright red colour. The Kasteli area was also inhabited in the Post-Minoan period (1580/1550 - 1100 B.C.). According to the evidence offered by the clay tablets in Linear A scripture found on the hill, the area was reserved for royal use. Between 1380 and 1100 B.C. it developed into a commercial centre which was in constant communication with the rest of Crete and Greece.A historically significant ceramics workshop, known as "the Kythonia Workshop" has also been found in the Hania area. It now belongs to the post-royal period.
The Historical Years (1st millenium B.C.)
During the so called Historical Years, Kythonia seems to have been a powerful city-state, whose domain extended from Hania Bay to the feet of the White Mountains. Kythonia was constantly at war with other city-states such as Aptera, Falasarna nad Polyrrinia. In 69 B.C. the Roman Consul Cointus Metellus defeated the Cretans and conquered Kythonia to which he granted the privileges of an independent city-state.
Kythonia reserved the right to mint its own coins until the 3rd century A.D. The Roman conquest put an end to the civil wars and a period of peace began, unique in the history of the island. The Kythonia of the Historical Years was of the same size as the city of Hania at the beginning of the 20th century
First Byzantine Period, 3rd Century A.D. - 823
Information about the Kythonia of the Christian Years is limited. The most important archeological finds are those of the remains of a Basilica, discovered recently near the Venician Cathedral in the centre of Kasteli. Various sources mention the Kythonia Diocese and the Bishop Kythonios, who participated in the Sardinian Synod in 343. Kythonia is mentiond among the 22 most important cities of Crete in the "Document of Ieroklis" in the 6th Century. The Kytonia Diocese is also mentioned in all the "Ecclesiastical Minutes" (taktica), before and after the Arabian Occupation.
The Arabian Occupation (823-961)
The occupation of Crete by the Arabs was effected gradually from 821 to 824. The consequences of the arrival of the Arabs in Crete were rather painful for the local population, who were subjected to a long and horrible period of slavery, resulting in the alienation of Crete from the Byzantine empire. St. Nicholas Stouthitis was born in 763 in Kythonia, which he left at the age of 10 to go to Constantinople. In 961, Nikiforos Fokas managed to free Crete and bring it back under the control of the Byzantine empire.
The Byzantine Period (961-1252)
The first action of the Byzantine empire, after reconquering Crete, was to re-establish their authority and power. Not only should all traces of the Arab occupation be abolished but also the defense of the island had to be organised quickly in order to avoid any Arab attempt to take back the island. Thus, strong fortifications are constructed along the coast and at strategic positions. The hill of Kasteli is fortified with a wall along its perimeter. This was constructed with building materials taken from the ancient city. It is still regarded as a remarkable military accomplishment and a proof of the continuous existence of the city in the period between the Arab and the Venician occupations.
The Venician Occupation (1252-1645)
After the 4th Crusade and the dismantling of the Byzantine empire, in 1204, Crete is given to Bonifacio, the Marquis de Monfera. He, in turn, chooses to sell it to the Venicians for 100 silver marks. In 1252 the Venicians manage to subdue the locals as well as the Genoans, who, under the leadership of the Count of Malta Henrico Pescatore, had seized Crete. Hania is chosen as the seat of the Rector (Administrator General) of the region and flourishes as a significant commercial centre due to the fertility of the land. Contact with Venice leads to the social, economic and cultural conditions necessary for the growth of a culture strongly affected both by the Venician and the local element.
The Turkish Occupation (1645-1898)
The Turks land near the Monastery of "Gonia" (Corner) in Kissamos,
which they plunder and burn. They seize the fortified isle of "Agioi Theodori"
and, after a two month siege, the City of Hania on 2nd August 1645. A new state
of affairs prevails in the city, where churches are turned into mosques and Christian
fortunes come to the hands of the conquerors. The Turks reside mostly in the eastern
districts, Kasteli and Splanzia, where they convert the church of St Nicholas
of the Dominicans into their central mosque "Houghiar Tzamissi" (The Sovereign's
Mosque). Besides turning catholic churches into mosques, they build new ones such
as "Kioutsouk Hassan Tzamissi" on the harbour. They also build public baths (Hamam)
and fountains. In 1821 many Christians are slaughtered and the Bishop of Kissamos,
Melhisethek Thespotakis is hanged in Splantzia. In 1878, the Treaty of Halepa
is signed and the Christians are granted certain rights. In 1898, the semi-autonomous
"Cretan State" is established and the city of Hania flourishes as the Capital
This text is cited Sep 2002 from the Municipality of Chania URL below, which contains images.
The archeological data in Gazi and the neighboring settlements indicate the significance of the area since Minoan times. North from the settlement, at the mouth of the river it is considered to be the seaport of Tylissos at mid-Minoan III and late Minoan period. Nearby the settlement, Minoan statuettes were found, which according to professor Marinato represent solely one goddess, in different capacities: The Snake Goddess, the Pigeon Goddess (of the sky and love), the Poppy Goddess (of health and euphoria), the Goddess of War. Both in Kavrochori and Agia Marina settlement, there have been located remains of residential settlement of late Minoan Period III, Archaic and Hellenistic period. In addition, there were found tombs of late Minoan Period III with box-shaped sarcophagus (Gazi, Skafidara and Kavrochori). Finally, in the gorge of Almyros river there are ruins of churches dated back to 14th century.
In history texts of Venetian occupation period we meet the first references to the settlements of Gazi, Kavrochori, Kalessa. Venetian monuments are the Tris Eklisies (the three churches), the ruins in Almyros gorge, which date from 14th century, Agios Panteleymonas monastery and different Venetian mansions that are scattered at the settlements of Rodia, Pantanassa and Palaiokastro.
This extract is cited Oct 2002 from the Municipality of Gazi URL below.
The History of Heraklion
Archaic - Classical - Hellenistic Period: During the ancient years the
main city was, without any doubt, Knossos. However, there must have existed a
kind of settlement, north of Knossos, near the city today, on a hill and at some
distance away from the sea with the name Heraklion. Archaeological remains from
the archaic, classical and Hellenistic period come to light, from time to time,
from different areas of the old city (area of Daidalou, Idomeneos, Meramvellou,
Xanthoudidou, D.Bofor and Epimenidou str.), mainly after excavations and earthworks
that take place before a new building is being erected, under the supervision
of the relevant Archaeological Service.
Roman Period: For this period the information about the city becomes richer.
Strabo, (even though he hadn't visited Crete) reports in "Geographica" that Heraklion
was the seaport of Knossos. A great number of important finds (mobile or otherwise)
of this period come mainly from graves but also from building complexes. The most
characteristic of the latter comes from the excavation of the museum's new plot
which preserves six mosaic floors in a very good condition.
First Byzantine Period: During this period (330 A.D to 824 A.D.) when Crete
becomes a "thema" (part) of the Byzantine empire and Gortyna the administrative,
military and religious centre, the settlement was known by the name "Castro".
Unfortunately due to lack of evidence for this period, but also of important archaeological
finds, it is difficult for someone to have a full picture of the town at that
period. During these years the whole island was being hit by pirate raids and
by natural distractions (earthquakes) that had as a result the decline and even
the disappearance of towns as urban centres.
The Arab Conquest: In 824 A.D. Castro was surrendered to its conquerors,
after Arab raids and the debarkation of the Arabs themselves on the island (822
A.D.-823 A.D.) that aimed at the gradual conquest of Crete. To this situation
contributed also the fact that the Byzantine state (empire) suffered continuous
disputes and internal upheavals. The town was now known as Rabdh el Khandac, meaning
the Fortress of the Trench, since the Arabs, along with their settlement, in order
to be protected, built a wall of raw bricks and around it they dug a deep trench
(Khandaq). From this name derived the later ones: Chandakas, of the Second Byzantine
period and Candia of the Venetian period. Chandakas which became the capital of
the island when Gortyna was deserted, occupied an area from Daidalou, Chandakos
str., the sea front, Epimenidou str., and part of Freedom Square. The Arabs developed
their own civilization on Crete, like the one of their contemporaries. They had
their own mint, a developed metal work, ceramic work and well built buildings.
A lot of information for the architecture and their life style has been revealed
during the excavation that took place in the old Kastella, east of the Church
of St. Peter and St. Paul.
2nd Byzantine Period - The recovery of Crete by the Byzantines: The Byzantines
tried continuously to recover Crete, without though any success. In 826 A.D. the
Byzantine General Krateros attempted, unfortunately unsuccessfully, a campaign
against the Arabs. The area of the battle and the shattering of the Byzantine
army by the Arabs, a few kilometers east of Heraklion, preserves even today the
name of the heroic General (Karteros).
Nikiforos Fokas: In 960 A.D. the General of the Byzantine army and the
later emperor Nikiforos Fokas campaigned against the Arabs. With armed forces,
fully equipped, he manages to liberate the whole island and to restrict the Arabs
into the well fortified Chandakas. After a siege of many months, in the spring
of 961 A.D. a general attack took place from the Byzantine and the mercenary troops
which resulted in the successful recovery of the city. Many Arabs were killed
or were taken prisoners, during the battle, as victims of the soldiers' brutality
in spite of Nikiforos Fokas' opposite instructions. The General himself took the
emir and his family to Constatinople, where they were honoured by the Byzantines.
The emir' s son adopted Christianity and served the emperor. Nikiforos Fokas,
on his way out of Chandakas, took with him a large amount of valuable booty that
the Arabs had gathered in the town. Nikiforos Fokas, in his aim to create a new
area, more secure for its citizens, since Chandakas was almost flattened, and
the fortification wall had, in a big part, been destroyed, built a new fort a
few kilometers to the south (near Kanli Kastelli). The new, though, settlers did
not wish to leave the deserted and destroyed Chandakas, since, apart from other
reasons, that city, due to its position, could serve their needs more.
The reconstruction of the city - Megalo Kastro: A second Byzantine Period
starts that will last until 1204 A.D. In Chandakas, now known by the name Kastro
(term for a fortified city or fortress) is settled by new settlers that come from
the elite Byzantine families, the higher lords, the army and the political administrative
body. The city is being rebuilt almost from the start, public and private buildings
are being erected, while the fortification wall is being repaired and completed
and the port is organized on a serious base. The administrative centre must have
been situated in the area where in the later years the Loggia, the Basilica of
St. Marc and the palace of the dukes were built by the Venetians (which is around
the area of 25th August str.). As far as the Byzantine fortification is concerned,
it is almost certain that in many of its parts it was based on the already existing
Arab stone foundation, parts of which came to light after excavations in building
plots along Daidalou str. for the erection of new buildings. A characteristic
of the fortification wall was the towers and the straight parts in between them.
The city, during this period, with the fortress and the port from which trade
was taking place with markets out of Crete, was the most important one on the
whole island. It had a growing economy and quiet rightly is referred to as Megalo
Kastro, a name that is still in the memory of the older Heraklion people. A very
big number of movable finds (coins, excellent samples of glazed ceramic work)
has come to light from excavations and earth works in different parts of the city.
At the same time building complexes, two large public baths, built with special
care, in Koronaiou and in Chortatson str., cisterns and graves were uncovered.
The city gradually starts to expand towards the south creating different suburbs.
Venetian Period: In 1204 A.D., the year of the fall of Constatinople and
basically the disruption of the Byzantine Empire by the Crusades, the Megalo Kastro,
as the whole island passed into Venetian hands, after certain agreements. The
Venetians, being at the same time engaged with the occupation of other areas,
did not give the proper attention and significance and this had as a result for
Crete to pass into the hands of the General Pirate Erricos Pescatore. Due to the
special geographical position and importance of the island, the Venetians did
not want to lose that possession, so after a lot of adventures, they will become
once again in 1211 the sovereigns of the island, a rule that will last until 1669.
Crete became one whole administrative district with the name "Kingdom of Candia"
(Regno di Candia). For the first 150 years there will be a lot of revolutions
from the Cretan's side, a fact that proves that the people did not submit without
any protest in the Venetian domination and servitude. After 1367 Crete starts
to live a rather peaceful period.
Castro - Candia: The Castro, which is now named Candia by the Venetians,
became the capital of the island, the seat of every Duke and all the other authorities,
the centre of the intellectual and artistic life. The city becomes one of the
most important urban centres of that period in the whole eastern Mediterranean.
The city continues to be expanded out of the limits of the old fortification,
creating strongly the need of a new one that would include the suburbs.
New Fortification: The new walls with their monumental portals form a representative
characteristic of the fortification art and even today they form one of the most
significant monuments of the kind in the Mediterranean basin. The city port with
the arsenals is also one of the most important commercial centre in the area from
where a lot of Cretan products (wine, olive oil, cheese) are exported and traded
in the biggest European markets.
Artistic movement: Other sections also flourished like painting (in the
16th century the well known Cretan school is formed and Dominikos Theotokopoulos,
the later El Greco starts his art work), literature, poetry, theatre with astonishing
examples in every domain creating a special Cretan cultural idiom in the area.
The architecture is another section of development and flourishing which is represented in public and private buildings as is the dukes' palace, the venetian metropolitan church of St.Mark with its bell tower (today used as a municipal gallery where important exhibitions take place as was the one of The Portaits of Fayium). The "Loggia" (the Noble's Club during the Venetian period) is used today as part of the Town Hall. Various Venetian and Orthodox churches, fountains are some of the monuments that still exist even today in the old town. We shouldn't though forget that all this flourishing that took place in that period was realized with the hard work of simple Cretan people.
The Turkish threat: A new superpower comes at that time to the front that
is going to bring a real upheaval in the "status quo" and it is the Ottoman Empire.
In 1645 the Turkish fleet appears in the Cretan coastline and gradually one town
after the other passes into the hands of the new conquerors. Chandakas resists
for more than 20 years and the siege around the city's fortress comes to an end
after a betrayal by the Venetian - Cretan mechanic Andreas Barotsis who revealed
to the Turkish pasha Ahmet Kioprouli the weakest parts of the fortress (in the
eastern and the western part, in the bastion of Sabbionara and the bastion of
Castro under the Turkish occupation: Crete was made part of a new "egialeti",
that means of a new administrative region of the Ottoman Empire that had Chandakas
as a "capital", now called Kandiye or Kastro by the Turks. In the city there are
all the official services, the seat of the "Grammatikos", that is of the interpreter
of the "Pyli". Chandakas was almost totally destroyed and ravaged. A lot of extended
repairs were done in buildings and in the fortification wall, while most of the
churches were made into mosques. New fountains are built in different parts of
the city in order to confront the problem of lack of water. The last period's
cultural flourishing stopped, while there is a similar decline in the economy
and the trade. From the beginning, though, of the 18th century we could note a
steady development and a change in the economic life of the city with the participation
of Christians in various commercial activities. The revolutions during this period
did not stop, proving by this the desire of Cretan people for freedom and re-union
19th century: In the first decades of the next century the city changed
name into Herakleia and later Heraklion, as it is known today. Turks transferred
the capital of the island from Heraklion to Chania, without this implying the
decline of Heraklion which is developing into one of the most important urban
centres of that period with a great commercial and economic flourishing. The last
page of the Turkish occupation took place in Heraklion in August 1898 when enraged
Turks attacked and slaughtered hundreds of unarmed Christians together with 17
English soldiers and the English Consul Lyssimachos Kalokairinos. In November
of the same year the last Turkish soldier leaves the island, while the next month
the High Commissioner Prince George is embarked in Souda (Chania) and the "Kritiki
Politeia" (Cretan State) is founded by the "high protection" of England, Italy,
France and Russia until 1913 when the union with Greece is being achieved.
20th century: With the dawn of the 20th century a new era for Crete starts.
Heraklion is being rapidly developed, its population is also increasing (urbanism)
and by extension its housing needs are being multiplied. And all these happen
many times at the expense of the historical character of the town. In the name
of modernization, of development and progress a lot of monuments of the historical
centre of the city are being demolished without any planning while at the same
time the fortifications are being seriously changed without any way of going back
to their previous state. The historical Heraklion lives in the rhythm of a big
modern city, day to day though, it becomes more obvious the need of keeping the
bonds with the past by preserving and demonstrating its monuments.
Kallia Nikolidakis, ed., Archaeologist of Heraklion Municipality
This text is cited Nov 2003 from the Municipality of Heraklion URL below.
- Municipality of Heraklion WebPages
- Municipality of Lefki WebPage
The existence of human life during the Neolithic period (6000 -2600
BC) is proved by archaeological findings in the Ideon Andron cave on Mount Psiloritis,
the Gerani cave west of Rethymnon and the Elenon cave in the Amari district. The
greater number of archaeological findings dating back to the Minoan period (2600-1100
BC) can be explained by the fact that human existence and activity became more
common both in caves as well as in a variety of other dwelling places, the remains
of which cover the entire area of the Prefecture and are evidence of every stage
of the Minoan period. Dating back to the Early Minoan period (2600-2000 BC) in
the Mylopotamos area are the Sentoni Cave in Zoniana and Pyrgi, Eletherna, in
the Municipality of Rethymno are the sites of Chamelevri, and Apodoulou in the
Amari district. The palatial installations of Monastiraki in the district of Amari,
the settlements of Pera Galinous in the Mylopotamos area, and Stavromenou as well
as the caves of Melidoni and Patsos in the Municipality of Rethymno date back
to the Middle-Minoan period (2000-1600 BC). Finally, the cemetery of Armeni, the
settlement of Zominthos in Anoghia and the place of worship in Fantaxospiliara
in the village of Prinos date from the Late Minoan period (1600-1100 BC).
During the Geometric and Daedalian period (1100-620 BC) important
cities such as Eleftherna and Axos (Oaxos), in the Mylopotamos area, flourished,
while at the same time a settlement existed on Mount Vrysina, on the plateau of
Onythe. Continuous development of the same areas can also be observed during the
period of Antiquity (620-500 BC), when works of great artistic value were produced.
According to the testimony of more recent sources, during Classical (500-330 BC)
and Hellenistic (330-67 BC) times, the ancient town of Rithimna must have flourished;
it was situated in the same place as the modern town of Rethymno is today. Simultaneously,
the other large cities of the prefecture, as for example Eleftherna, Axos, Lappa
and Sivrytos continued to exist during the Hellenistic and the Graeco-Roman period
(67 BC - 323 AD). During the First Byzantine period (330-824) when
the capital of the Roman Empire was transferred to the Byzantium and Constantinople
was founded in 330, Crete was included in the East Roman Empire, constituting
a separate district, which was governed by a Byzantine general. Henceforth Christianity
expanded on the island, and in the 8th century the Cretan Episcopate was integrated
with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. During the early Christian and First
Byzantine period a large number of temples were built, archaeologists have discovered
many of which. Starting from the year 824 up until 961, the island was governed
by the Arabs, although very little evidence of this fact was found in the area
of Rethymno apart from some Arabian coins, which were found in the village of
Giannoudi. During the Second Byzantine period (961-1210) fortification works of
the town of Rethymno were started for the first time as we shall see further on.
In the year 1211 the long and interesting period of the Venetian occupation began,
remains of which can clearly be seen still on all levels in the area of the town
This text is cited Nov 2003 from the Tourism Promotion Committee of Rethymno Prefecture URL below, which contains images.
- Rethymno Prefecture Tourism Committee WebPage
Byzantine Period and Venetian Occupation
There is little information referring to the town of Rethymno during
both the First Byzantine period (325-824) and the period of Arab occupation (824-961).
Crete's liberation by Nikiforos Foka in 961, followed by its re-integration into
the Byzantine Empire, signaled the beginning of the Second Byzantine Period, which
lasted up until the arrival of the Venetians on the island in 1204. At that stage
a fortified wall was built around all the buildings, thus constituting the first
fortified settlement, the so-called "Castrum Rethemi", which the Venetians later
called Castel Vecchio.
The period of the Venetian occupation formally began in 1204, when
Crete was passed over to Bonifatius of Montferrato, who later handed it over to
the Venetians. However, in 1206 the Genoese pirate Enrico Pescatore invaded the
island, and it was not until as late as 1210 that the Venetians actually succeeded
in regaining control of Crete again. The Cretans were in opposition to their conquerors,
which resulted in a series of revolutions during the period between 1211 and 1367.
Despite the Cretan resistance, the Venetians embarked on successive administrative
changes, according to which the island was initially divided into six, and later,
during the 14th century, into four sections, with the capitals Chania, Rethymno,
Chandakas and Sitia. The Duke (Duca), who had his seat in Chandakas, had sovereign
power over the entire island. Rectors (Rettore), who were supported by two Councillors
(Consiglieri), were in administrative command of the districts of Chania, Rethymno
The destruction in the year 1571 and the Cretan Renaissance
After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 the position of the Venetians
in the East was gradually weakened. As early as in 1537/38, the architect Michele
Sanmicheli from Verona was entrusted with a programme of fortification works,
which had already been initiated by the town of Rethymno. His drafts included
the land wall of the town, on which the construction works were started in 1540
and completed in 1570.
Chaireddin Barbarossa looted the village of Apokorona, the surrounding
villages of Chania, and the towns of Rethymno and Sitia.
The attack of the pirate Ulutz-Ali on 7 July in 1571 devastated Rethymno.
The Turks found the town deserted, whereupon they plundered it and set it on fire.
Most of the houses were burnt; the walls of the Castel Vecchio as well as the
land wall, which had only been completed a short time before, had vanished. As
a result of these events it was decided to build a fortress on the hill of Palaiokastro,
the walls of which should also protect the houses of the town. In 1573, the foundation
works of the fortress were realised under the leadership of the Rector Alvise
Lando. The architect Sforza Pallavicini drew the initial plans, whilst the supervising
mechanical engineer was Gian Paolo Ferrari.
After the fortress had been completed they realised that the space
was actually too small to house all the buildings. Consequently it was decided
that only the Venetian administration, the Latin Episcopate and the Military authorities
should be accommodated within the fortress, while it should merely serve as a
place of shelter for the inhabitants in case of emergency.
After several years, when the fortress, the so-called Fortezza, was
completed, the Venetians had secured a powerful position on the island. Thus,
towards the end of the 16th century the city achieved characteristics of the Renaissance
according to Venetian examples. This stage included the construction of luxurious
public and private mansions, while at the same time the city achieved a central
square (piazza) as did the city of Venice, a club house of the nobility (Loggia),
fountains such as the Rimondi fountain, a large sundial, a central street, as
well as smaller by-passing roads, which led to the temples, the monasteries, the
mansions and the simple houses. Those magnificent buildings were ornamented with
a variety of doorframes, some of which were kept simple, whereas others were greatly
decorated. They have been preserved up until today and give evidence of that brilliant
stage in history of the city of Rethymno. During that atmosphere of Renaissance,
in which the Hellenic element definitely excelled, the union of two civilisations
was accomplished, which influenced the intellectual and artistic domain to a large
Scholars such as Markos Mousouros, Zacharias Kalliergis and the brothers
Vergikios were highly esteemed in Europe, whilst G. Hortatzis, Troilos and Marinos
Tzane Bounialis, the poet of the Cretan War, contributed to the flourishing Cretan
literature and were rewarded for their achievements. On a similar line, Emmanuel
Lambardos and Emmanuel Bounialis, both of who were worthy representatives of the
so-called Cretan School, also expressed the era of Renaissance in the art of painting.
The siege of Rethymno
In 1645 the first Turkish troops landed at Chania and besieged the
city immediately. After two months the city surrendered and the great Venetian-Turkish
Wars of the 17th century had started. On 29 September 1646 the troops of Hussein
Pasha arrived at the fortified walls of the city of Rethymno. These walls had
already been weakened because of the many earlier raids led by the Turks, who
had previously established themselves in the area of Chania.
Citizens and civilians gathered inside the fortress, where the situation
had reached dramatic dimensions due to the plague, the injured, the lack of food
and most importantly the lack of ammunition. When the Governor realised that the
town could no longer be defended, he raised the white flag and negotiated the
capitulation of the city of Rethymno - fortunately on favourable conditions: any
of the inhabitants who wished to go to Chandakas were transferred there, while
those who wished to stay became subjects of the Sultan. The Fortezza of Rethymno
was surrendered to the Turks on 13 November 1646.
From the Turkish Occupation to Autonomy (1669-1897)
The domination of the Turks over the inhabitants of Rethymno (1669-1898)
as well as over the rest of Crete, brought many important changes not only in
the administrative, economic and population areas, but also in the intellectual
and every-day life of the people. By that time the island of Crete was considered
large enough to initially be divided into three regions, that of Chandakas, of
Rethymno and of Chania, to which that of Lassithi was added later. None of these
regions were governed by a Pasha. The image of the town changed radically. The
conquerors installed themselves in the Venetian mansions, which they decorated
with their own architectural elements. At the same time they started building
mosques and minarets, which further emphasised their presence. The so-called "sachnisia",
wooden balconies projecting from the faηade of the buildings, suddenly appeared
in the former Venetian alleys and network of streets, thus giving the city a new
character - that of a Moslem town. Many churches were destroyed; others were turned
into mosques. As could be expected, these acts led to an intellectual decline.
The period of the "Cretan Renaissance" with its flourishing literature
and fine arts belonged to the past. Christians were slaughtered and their properties
plundered, which resulted in a series of uprisings and revolutions started by
the Cretans, among which the most important took place in 1821 in the framework
of the general uprising of the Greek people against the Turkish subjugators.
However, the Cretans did not succeed in obtaining their freedom in
the revolution of 1821. Instead the island was assigned to the Egyptian Vice-Roy
Mechmet Ali (1830-1841), a fact, which gave only small relief for the Christian
inhabitants of the island, who continued to fight for their freedom. Over the
years their continuous struggles showed a few results with regard to privileges
concerning the freedom of religion and the right of holding property. However,
the Cretans were not satisfied unless they were completely liberated and united
with the Greek mainland. A crucial battle was fought during the Great Cretan Revolution,
which lasted for three years, from 1866 to 1869, and during which the holocaust
of the Arkadi Monastery took place. Even after this shattering event and their
crucial battle for freedom, the Cretans continued to be dominated by the Turks
with no change to their situation. Therefore, another revolution followed, that
of 1878, and as a result of this one they achieved several religious and political
privileges, the most important of them being that a Cretan was allowed to be the
General Governor of Crete. However, this did not mean that the situation improved
henceforth. On the contrary, from 1890 to 1895 the Turks showed an even more merciless
attitude towards the locals, which resulted in the revolution of 1897, and due
to this revolution the Cretans finally secured their autonomy.
The most important event during their battle for freedom was the dramatic
ending of the siege of the Arkadi Monastery. Rather than surrendering to the Turks
they decided to lock themselves up in the ammunition storeroom and then blow it
up, thus fighting for their freedom in the most heroic way. The man, who set the
ammunition room on fire, played a major role in the Arkadi drama. This hero's
name was Kostis Yamboudakis from the village of Adele near Rethymno.
Autonomy - Union - Modern Times
The year 1897 was the last year of the Turkish occupation of Crete.
In 1898 Russian soldiers took up position on the island and on 9 December Prince
Georgios arrived at Chania taking office as High Commissioner. During the same
year preparations began to organise Crete as an autonomous state with its own
constitution and government. This period of autonomy had positive effects on all
levels, mainly however on the economic and intellectual life of Rethymno. A large
number of works on infrastructure were carried out, including the construction
of luxurious private and public buildings, while at the same time intellectual
activities could be observed such as the creation of cinemas and theatres. This
creative development continued up until 1 December 1913, when Crete was united
with the mainland of Greece. Whilst everything had been proceeding satisfactorily
up until then, the union with Greece, which at that time was facing many problems,
reversed the creative development of both the town of Rethymno and the entire
Island of Crete. Only as late as 1924, after the War of Asia Minor had ended,
would the situation improve. The remaining Turkish-Cretan population left the
island, while Greek refugees from Asia Minor established themselves on Crete.
Their culture and creative spirit was to enrich Rethymno and to provide impetus
to a new economic and intellectual prosperity.
World War II was probably the most important reason for regression
and decline on all levels. The invasion by German parachute commandos and the
bombing of the town of Rethymno in May 1941 were only the beginning of a series
of battles with a large number of casualties, during which civilians, filled with
the euphoria of courage and patriotism, taught the conquerors a lesson. However,
the Germans triumphed over Crete and settled down in Rethymno, where they took
control of the life, the administration and the economy of the town.
The intolerable living conditions as well as the oppression of the
conquerors during the period from 1941 to 1944 created a strong resistance movement
including Rethymno, with activities in many places of the prefecture. Following
the German occupation a period of poverty and misery began, which lasted up until
the decade of the 60's. The installation of electricity also meant a first spark
of hope for better days for the people. Since 1960 the town of Rethymno has been
following a steady course of development. The expansion of tourism, which started
towards the end of the 60?s and the first years of the 70?s, contributed enormously
to this development.
This text is cited Nov 2003 from the Tourism Promotion Committee of Rethymno Prefecture URL below, which contains images.
The history of the Port of Souda
- Municipality of Lefki WebPage
And colonists were sent forth by the Aeginetans both to Cydonia in Crete and to the country of the Ombrici.
- Perseus: Strabo, Geography
The inhabitants founded the cities:
Gela was founded by Antiphemus from Rhodes and Entimus from Crete, who joined in leading a colony thither, in the forty-fifth year after the foundation of Syracuse. The town took its name from the river Gelas, the place where the citadel now stands, and which was first fortified, being called Lindii. The institutions which they adopted were Dorian. Near one hundred and eight years after the foundation of Gela, the Geloans founded Acragas (Agrigentum ), so called from the river of that name, and made Aristonous and Pystilus their founders; giving their own institutions to the colony.
- Perseus: Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War
The area has been inhabited since pre-historic times till today without
3000 - 2800 BC Archaeological artifacts prove the existence of ancient Kydonia.
2800 - 1150 BC. Minoan civilisation. Ancient Kydonia
is one of the most powerful cities of Greece.
1st millenium AD. Kydonia
prevails until the 7th century AD.
823 - 961 AD Occupation by the Arabs.
961 - 1252 AD Byzantine period.
1252 - 1645 AD Occupation by the Venetians.
1645 - 1897 AD Occupation by the Turks.
Unification of Crete with Greece.
(Text: Dr. Anastasia Kalpaki-Georgoulaki)
This text is cited December 2003 from the Chania
Prefecture Tourism Committee tourist pamphlet.(2002)
War between Rhodes and Crete
- Perseus: Polybius, Histories