The present-day building complex consisting of the prefecture building, courthouse and magistrates' court arose from the Turkish barracks which replaced the Venetian St. George Barracks.

The Venetian barracks were the largest and most important such building in the town. Built in around 1583, they took their name from the nearby Venetian gate in the enceinte.

Public buildings were burnt to the ground when Chandax fell to the Turks, but the barrack house was renovated and used for its original purpose up until 1856, when it was destroyed by a powerful earthquake.

The complex was rebuilt as a single structure to plans by thanassios Moussis, but in the late 1920's was divided up into three sections with open walkways in between.

The first section, on the Eleftherias Square end, first served as the administrative headquarters, later becoming the Prefecture of Heraklion offices. The middle building housed the courthouse; the third was originally home to the Public Accounts Office and tax offices, but is now used by the Heraklion Magistrates' Court and the Officer's Club.

The east and north sides of the Turkish barracks in the 1910's, 1910 - 1920 (Michalis Papadakis-Dandolos Collection)
The site once used as barracks in Venetian and Ottoman times has now been converted to house the Heraklion Prefectural Administration (second-tier local government), 2004 (photograph: Vassilis Kozonakis)