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The Siege of Heráklion: 1648–69

History's second longest siege

This view on Iraklion, the former Candia, was published by Nicolaes Visscher I (1618-1679). Visscher may have based the print on work by Jan Janssonius (1588-1664).

After the Turks took Réthymnon in 1646, their battle plan was to capture the rest of Crete and so isolate Heráklion, then better known as Candia, behind its beetling walls. Although the Venetians and Cretans put up a brave resistance, by 1648 the whole of the island except for Heráklion and the island fortresses off the north coast at Gramvoúsa, Soúda and Spinalónga had fallen.

These were desperate times; although the Turks won points with the locals by promising early on to remove all Latin bishops from Crete and restore the Orthodox hierarchy to its pre-eminent position, one account says that in one year alone (1657) some 60,000 Cretans, their homes destroyed in the battles, converted to Islam to avoid the crippling taxes levied on non-Muslims.

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Sidelights and Myths

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Decius on Wikimedia Commons, Dirck Jansz van Santen