Second Byzantine Period (961 - 1204B.C.)
In the wake of successive failed attempts, the Byzantines finally regained Crete in 961 AD, in a well organized campaign under Nicephorus Phocas which involved laying siege to Chandax for several months. So as to consolidate Byzantine power, strong military forces and veteran soldiers from other areas of the empire were stationed on the island. Particular emphasis was placed on administrative organisation and the bolstering of Christianity. Commanders and other high-ranking officials often came from prominent, influential Byzantine families, thus securing links between local and Byzantine society. Over the next 250 years Crete was once more a part of the Byzantine state and experienced lasting peace, only interrupted by an insurrection led by Duke Karykis.

The island was reintegrated into the main body of the Empire, as a theme governed by a strategos based at Chandax, as the town was officially known. The seat of religious power was also transferred there shortly thereafter, to a cathedral church dedicated to Saint Titus. Particular attention was paid to the town's fortifications, and a new defensive wall was built. Similar interest was shown in the port, which acquired ever greater significance for the local economy. Population growth and administrative demands gradually led to the town expanding beyond the walls over the following centuries.

961  |  965  |  969  |  975  |  1027  |  1058  |  1081  |  1090  |  1111  |  1118  |  1204
The possible site and size of the enceinte Chandax in the second Byzantine period (Multimedia Lab)
Medal depicting Nicephorus Phocas, struck in 1961 to commemorate the millennial of the recapture of Crete by the Byzantines, 961 - 1204 (Historical Museum of Crete, © S.C.H.S, Heraklion)
Coins from the Middle and Late Byzantine periods (Historical Museum of Crete, © S.C.H.S, Heraklion)