Venetian Rule (1204 - 1645B.C.)
The fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade brought with it the carving up of Byzantine imperial territory, including Crete. After a brief period of Genoese dominion and military conflict, Venetian power was firmly established in 1217. Over the ensuing four and a half centuries, Crete was one of the most important possessions of the Serenissimi, if not the leading one.

Kastro remained the capital and administrative centre, but was renamed Candia, becoming a hive of economic and intellectual activity. The town's importance is revealed by the fact that its name was thenceforth used to refer to the entire administrative region of Crete, which was known as the Kingdom of Candia (Regno di Candia).

Links with mercantile shipping routes and the settlement of Venetian colonists breathed new life into the town. These favourable circumstances led to an increase in the urban population and new expansion beyond the old enceinte. In combination with the extensive use of gunpowder and artillery, this state of affairs forced the Venetians to design and construct the new fortifications around the town. Port construction works and the erection of numerous impressive public and private buildings radically altered the townscape.





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The Venetian town and enceinte in the mid-17th century (Hans Rudolf WerdmŻller, Historical Museum of Crete, © S.C.H.S)
La isola de Candia, 1600 (Museo Civico Correr, Venice)
View of Candia from the sea, 1530 - 1540 (Fr. Hogenberg)
Map of Crete with the Lion of St. Mark, from Marco Boschini's work Il regno tutto di Candia, 1651 (M. Boschini, Historical Museum of Crete, © S.C.H.S, Heraklion)
Depiction of Venice in the Middle Ages, showing Marco Polo departing for Asia, 1400
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