Heraklion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete. It is also one of the largest cities in Greece and extends over an area of 684.3 km2.
It is close to the ruins of the Bronze Age palace of Knossos, also known as the Palace of Minos, which in Minoan times was the largest centre of population on Crete. Though there is no archaeological evidence of it, Knossos may well have had a port at the site of Heraklion as early as 2000 BC.
The Arab raiders from Andalusia (Iberia) who founded the Emirate of Crete moved the island's capital from Gortyna to a new castle they called 'Castle of the Moat' in the 820s. This was hellenized as “Χάνδαξ” (Khandax) or “Χάνδακας” (Khandakas) and latinized as Candia, which was taken into other European languages: in Italian and Latin as Candia, in French as Candie, in English as Candy, all of which could refer to the island of Crete as a whole as well as to the city alone; the Ottoman name was Kandiye.
After the Byzantine reconquest, the city was locally known as Megalo Kastro ('Big Castle' in Greek) or Castro and its inhabitants were called Kastrinoi or Castrini ('castle-dwellers' in Greek). The ancient name Heraklion was revived in the 19th century and comes from the nearby Roman port of Heracleum ("Heracles's city"), whose exact location is unknown.