In the blessed land of the prefecture of Heraklion, the first European Civilization, the Minoan, developed, and since then the history of the place is directly connected with all the great historical events that characterized the European Continent. From ancient times until today, the peoples who passed through the area left traces of their culture. With the capture of Constantinople by the Franks in 1204, Crete passed into the hands of the Venetians until 1669. During this period, the prefecture as well as the whole of Crete was shaken by revolutions against the Venetians, but at the same time experienced an extraordinary economic and spiritual prosperity. The impact of the Western European artistic presence on the culture that developed in Crete during the end of the Middle Ages and the dawn of the modern era is enormous. Huge fortifications are being built, cities are being rebuilt, monuments of astonishing beauty are being created.
Heraklion becomes the brilliant capital of the Regno di Candia and experiences great prosperity. It becomes the center of the Cretan Renaissance which gives us the excellent painting of the Cretan School. Dominikos Theotokopoulos was born in Heraklion (in Fodele), apprenticed next to great painters such as Michael Damascenes and left for the West to glorify his birthplace and the art of painting under the name El Greco. Music and theater are flourishing and bequeathing us beautiful creations such as Erotokritos and Herophile, works that describe to us an extremely interesting society in terms of spiritual and material wealth. Little survives today in terms of paintings and architecture from the Venetian period. Most of the material no longer exists, or has been altered beyond recognition. The paintings were removed from Crete during the departure of the Venetians or were destroyed. Most of the buildings and their decorations disappeared. Only a small number of works of architecture were preserved, significantly altered and only part of the decorative wood carvings on buildings.
The intellectual and artistic flowering of Heraklion was interrupted in 1669 when Heraklion, the last stronghold of Crete, fell into the hands of the Turks after the longest siege -22 years- that humanity had known until then!.. Bloody struggles and revolutions against of the Turks lead to the autonomy of Crete in 1897 until 1913, when it is united with the rest of Greece. All these years until today, despite the different cultures and conquerors, the prefecture and the whole of Crete has not stopped obeying the unique power of its nature. This nature that becomes the cohesive link between the cultures and peoples it hosted.
The tradition of the city of Heraklion in Letters and Arts, after the liberation of Crete and its union with Greece, grafted on today and again began to develop at a rapid pace, upward - a path, whose main "stations" it is possible to consider, among others, the organization and operation of the Archaeological Museum, the establishment of the Society of Cretan Historical Studies and (through it) the establishment of the Historical Museum of Crete and the establishment of the Cretanological Conferences, the establishment and (based on high didactic specifications) operation of the University Schools of Heraklion and Rethymnon and, finally, the establishment and operation of the Technology and Research Institute and the Vikela Library.
Source: HERAKLEION ADMINISTRATION