Heraklion is the capital city of Crete and is one of the largest cities in Greece.
The city was founded in 834 by the Saracens. They built a moat around the city to protect themselves and then allowed the port to be used by pirates. Imperial forces commanded by Nikephoros Phokas attacked and laid seige to the city in 961. They slaughtered the Saracens, looted and then burned the city to the ground. The city was rebuilt and remained under Greek control for the next 243 years.
The city was bought by the Republic of Venice in 1204, as part of a large complicated political deal. They improved on the ditch, building a huge wall and a fortress which still can be seen today. The Venetians began to settle the island in 1212.
During the Cretan war, 1645 - 1669, the Ottomans attacked and besieged the city for 21 years. They finally conquered the city and Crete in 1669. During the Ottoman period the city harbour silted up, forcing their shipping to use Chania to the west.
The autonomous Cretan state was created in 1898 and in 1913, Heraklion was incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece.