Heraklion: the Castle of the MoatGreece,
It took the Greeks ten years to wipe Troy off the map with a wooden horse. It took the Ottomans 21 years and a vile traitor to conquer Heraklion, one of the largest castles in the Mediterranean and the crown jewel of Venice. This tour will highlight the most exciting monuments and events of a siege that captivated the whole of Europe.
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1. The three caballerosThe representatives of three cultures and societies are gathered here in an eternal conversation over the events of the siege and the contributions of Christians and Muslims in the history of the city.
2. The long arms of VeniceHeraklion (and Crete in general) was the crown jewel of the colonial empire of Venice, so the Venetians spent considerable effort and money to maintain a fleet of galleys to protect their most valuable possession.
3. The face of ZeusThe war ended on the highest point of the castle, under the sleepless gaze of Zeus, the father of the ancient gods who witnessed the fateful final moments of the siege and the departure of the defeated Christians.
The three caballerosAcross the statue of Erotokritos stand two fountains. The oldest and smaller one is known as the Bembo Fountain and was built in 1552-1554 by Gianmatteo Bembo, the Venetian governor of Heraklion. It was a great novelty back then, being the first fountain with running water in the city. The fountain is adorned with the headless statue of a Roman official, found in southeast Crete. There are also numerous coats of arms belonging to noble Venetian families. Right next to it is the monumental Ottoman sebil (public fountain) built by Haci Ibrahim Agha, who dedicated his entire fortune to the benevolent task of supplying the people of Heraklion with clean water. He even planned for ice to be brought to the city from Mount Ida (the highest mountain on Crete) so that the passersby would drink cold water in the summertime and bless his name.
A helping hand
The long arms of VeniceVenice depended on its naval power to protect its overseas colonies from the Ottomans. The first arsenal in Heraklion was built in 1281 and was meant to serve as a dry dockyard where vessels could be dragged when not in use. As Crete was increasingly required to supply more vessels for the defence of the empire, more arsenals were built. Each vaulted hall was 49 metres long and 13 metres wide and was meant to house one galley (though in wintertime more than one could be accommodated since the typical galley was 41m long and 5m wide). The arsenal eventually consisted of 19 vaulted halls and dealt also with the construction of small ships and the repair of war galleys, taking advantage of the good quality timber available in Crete.
The father of Zorba the Greek
The face of ZeusThe Martinengo Bastion is the highest part of the fortification and one of its strongest points. During the Ottoman siege of Heraklion it suffered the main attack. Today it offers stunning views towards Mount Juktas. If you look at the mountain you can see the face of Zeus (the nose and the eyebrows are particularly prominent and easy to identify). The Martinengo Bastion is also the final resting place of the famous Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis, “father” of Zorba the Greek. He died in 1957 and was buried here because the Greek Orthodox Church refused to allow his burial in a cemetery due to his political and religious views. His epitaph reads "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free", a quote from his epic poem “The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel”, which Kazantzakis considered his most important work.
The team behind the stories at Clio Muse consists of a dedicated long-haired art conservator, an inquisitive bespectacled historian, a passionate feminist curator, and a gifted graphic designer with a permanent tan.
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.