The prosperity of Christian Crete under the protection of the Byzantine Empire was fiercely interrupted by the Arabs in 824 AD. The new occupiers of the island converted Candia, today’s Heraklion, to a base for their pirate raids in the Mediterranean Sea.
After several failed attempts, the Byzantines eventually managed to liberate Crete in 961 AD under the orders of Nicephorus Phocas, giving a new impetus to the Byzantine tradition of Crete.
After the Occupation of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Venetians became the new masters of Crete until 1669. During this that period, Crete experienced a great economic and spiritual development, despite the revolutionary activities of local population. Large cities were reconstructed, adorned with imposing monuments and fortified with massive walls.
Meanwhile, it was a period in which art flourished. Great iconographers and painters came to the fore, such as Dominicus Theotocopoulos (El Greco) and Michael Damascenus.
Moreover, literature, poetry, music and theater experienced an unprecedented bloom and produced masterpieces such as Erotokritos and Erophile. This course was disrupted in 1669 when Candia, the last fortress in Crete, was surrendered to the Ottomans after 21 years of siege.