The island of Crete resides at the crossroads of the eastern Mediterranean. Its long and vivid history has seen the land occupied by a myriad of ancient Empires – Minoan, Greek, Roman, Arab and Byzantium.
More recently Crete was ruled for 700 years by two other great empires, the Venetian Empire and the Ottoman
This half hour program sees journalist Ian Cross exploring the traces of 450 years of Venetian rule, beginning in the 13th century, when Crete became its main colony due the strategic position linking vital sea trading routes. Claimed by the Ottomans in the 1669 after one of longest sieges in military history, and despite many rebellions by Christian Cretans, it was to remain part of the Ottoman Empire, until the very end of the 19th century.
Ian makes his way to visit the massive fortifications erected by some of the greatest military architects of the age to protect the Venetians’ prized colony and the surviving buildings in the Cretan city of Chania which gave it the name: Venice of the East.
Also examined is Crete’s Ottoman past. Less valued by the Christian Cretans of today, traces of Ottoman rule lie neglected, with mosques laying disused or converted into churches.
Finally Ian visits the sites of bloody uprisings against the Turks, such as The Arcadi Holocaust, seen as crucial in winning Cretan independence after centuries of occupation by foreign powers.
The programme also features interviews with Cretan academics who offer fresh insights into the conflict including the influence of Veneto Cretans and the fate of its Turko Cretan population.