Despite the fact that they are the biggest ramparts of the Mediterranean, and maybe even the best preserved, for some reason they haven’t found their place in the UNESCO list yet. The Venetian walls were built during the 16th and 17th century and stood still after 21 years of siege by the Ottoman army in the mid-17th century. Part of them is built over the earlier Arabic walls.
The Venetian walls of Heraklion are a complex of bastions, gates, arcades, trenches and chambers. The circulation of people, products and armies to and from the city was channelled through the main gates that bore marvellous samples of renaissance architecture, some of which are still preserved. If you walk lengthwise the walls you will often see the lion of St. Marco, the emblem of Venice, as well as the emblems of Venetian archons and dignitaries. The walls surround the old city of Heraklion – or at least what is left of it - and the largest part of them is accessible. Actually, you can walk on them and enjoy a wonderful view of the city, the mountains and the sea. There are stairways that lead on top of the walls near the main gates (except Chanioporta) and in their two extremities. The route on top of the wall is perfect for a relaxing walk and for an overview of the city. You will see people walking their dogs, cycling or jogging. The stadium of “Ergotelis” (one of the two major local soccer teams) and the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis are located on the Venetian bastions. In the last years, several gates and arcades have been renovated and transformed into exhibition spaces, museums and cultural venues. For example, the gate of Bethlehem now houses the open cinema during the summer.