The port of Heraklion (Iraklion), on the north shore of the island of Crete is encircled by fortifications constructed by the Venetians in the Middle Ages. It is capital of ruggedly beautiful Crete, whose ancient legends and history date back 5,000 years to the Minoans, Europe's first civilisation. Just three miles away are the fantastic ruins of the Palace of Knossos.
Heraklion was founded in the 9th century by the Saracens on the site of ancient Herakleion, the seaport of ancient Knossos. Since the 12th century Heraklion has been a possession of the Genoese, the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks. The town became a Greek possession when the Turks ceded Crete to Greece in 1913.