There are many Neolithic settlements in the area of Heraklion, and the city was believed to have been a port for nearby Knossos, but no direct evidence has been found to corroborate this. The earliest recorded history of the city dates to 824 AD when the Saracens, an Arab people, took the city. They built a large dike around the city and named it "El Khandak." The city remained in charge of the Saracens for over a hundred years until the nearby Byzantines sacked it in 924. Byzantine rule lasted until 1204, when they sold the city to the Venetians.

    Under the Venetians, the city flourished. A large wall was constructed around the city, which stands today. "Candia," as it was known in Italian, became a cultural center, and a haven for artists and intellectuals. The walls that the Venetians had built aided them greatly during a siege by the Turks of the Ottoman empire that began in 1648 and lasted twenty one years. In the end, the Venetians were defeated, and the city came under Ottoman rule.

    The Ottomans occupied the city until 1898, when they withdrew. The city then became part of the newly-independent State of Crete in 1908 which became in turn a part of Greece in 1913. The city then acquired a Greek name, Heraklion, "city of Hercules." Today, Heraklion is the capital of Crete and the fifth largest city in Greece.