Heraklion Venetian City Wall

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Location: Town

The Venetian Walls of Heraklion are a series of defensive walls and other fortifications surrounding the town of Heraklion. They are considered one of the most advanced and well-preserved defensive systems in the entire Mediterranean region, as they successfully withstood the second-longest siege in history for 21 years before the city eventually fell to the Ottomans in 1669.

Works began in 1462, as the introduction of gunpowder rendered the pre-existing Byzantine walls insufficient to face the threat of the expanding Ottoman Empire. Their construction, which lasted more than 100 years, was based on designs by the prominent military architects Michele Sanmicheli and Giulio Savorgnan. 

The seven-kilometer-long enceinte forms an isosceles triangle, whose base stretches along the seaside, while its apex is formed by the Martinengo bastion. Overall, the walls were defended by 7 massive bastions: Saint Andrew, Pantocrator, Bethlehem, Martinengo, Jesus, Vitturi, and Sampionara. The fact that a whole football pitch is now housed inside the Martinengo bastion, taking up a mere 60% of its surface, is indicative of their enormous dimensions.

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Top Tours and activities

  • Heraklion Bites and Sights 4 Hour Walking Tour

    Category: City, Gastronomy

    Head straight into the heart of Heraklion on this guided walking tour. Wander its back streets, admire its monuments, sample a variety of local delicacies, and learn about the influences that have combined to make Heraklion the city it is today.

    4 hours Map
    from € 97.00
    Book now

More about the Venetian City Wall

There were also four main gates, as well as three military ones. The enceinte was surrounded by a deep moat, which was never filled with water. Over the years, it was strengthened with a series of outworks that made it more difficult for attackers to approach it. Unfortunately, these outworks have not survived to this day.

After occupying the city, the Ottomans maintained and repaired these fortifications. During the Second World War, the walls were damaged by bombings, but they were restored after the end of the war.

Nowadays, the Venetian walls house various places of cultural interest. For example, the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, a renowned Greek writer, lies just outside the walls, near the Martinengo bastion. In the area of the Jesus Bastion, visitors can see the Manos Hatzidakis Open-air Theater, as well as Oasi, which is also known as the Nikos Kazantzakis Garden Theater. 



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