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July 30, 2008

Multi-lingual Iraklio

Although Iraklio is now more urban and concrete then many of the other cities on Crete, it has still played a role in the island's amazing history. In the 800s it was known as Rabdh el Khandak under Muslim rule, then as Handakas under Byzantine rule. In the 1200s Venice took control of the island in the aftermath of the 4th Crusade, and the city became known as Candia.

When the Turks arrived in 1648, Candia held out inside the fortified walls for a siege lasting 21 years. Probably as a result of that battle, in which the attacking forces are thought to have lost over 100,000 men, the Turks took to calling the town Megalo Kastro, which means 'Big Castle'.

British troops took control of the town in 1898 following civil unrest and Turkish reprisals which killed the British Consul, and until it unified with Greece, Crete fell under the protectorate of the Great Powers.

There is plenty of evidence of this chequered history throughout the town, including some lovely old buildings that have managed to survive the modern urban sprawl. We spotted this old balcony with (we think) a welcoming message in French, Greek and Arabic script.



Well, I know the French is welcoming anyway, I can't read the other two...

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Actually it says:


(Husein Muharem Litsardaki)

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