Loggia, the Architectural Gem of Heraklion


               Loggia, the City Hall of Heraklion, and one of the finest Venetian monuments of Crete

 Would you like to go back in time and feel the aristocratic atmosphere of Candia, the medieval fortress that is today the capital city, Heraklion? Do you want to see the place where the rulers and Venetian nobility used to gather to discuss, make decisions, or relax, four centuries ago?

 Well, you should take a look at the Loggia, located on the 25th of August Street in the old center of Heraklion, just a few steps downhill from Liontaria Square and San Marco Basilica! Considered the finest monument on Crete left from the Venetian occupation, Loggia is currently housing the City Hall of Heraklion.

 The impressive two-storied palace with its large arches and colonnades and an elegant atrium at the ground floor reflects the architectural style of the 16th century, defined by classical forms, symmetry, strict proportion, and fine ornaments. The building is a faithful reproduction of the famous Basilica in Vicenza built by the renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, proving the importance Venetians gave to their Cretan fortified cities.

 Like many other historical buildings in Crete, Loggia has a turbulent story despite which it survived gloriously. After three other buildings have served in previous periods as the center of local administrative and social life, the civil Governor of Crete, Francesco Morosini, constructed a new Loggia in 1626-1628. This was as a meeting place for the nobles, rulers, and feudal lords, where economic and commercial decisions were made. It was also a place for them to relax, like a sort of noblemen's club. As a symbolic place of power, glory, and pride, from the balconies of the Loggia, the Venetian dukes used to watch the religious processions, carnivals, and parades or the heralds to proclaim the decrees of state.
 
 From the occupation of the capital Candia in 1669 until the end of Ottoman rule in 1898, as the Venetian lifestyle disappeared from the social and cultural environment, the building completely lost its personality and charm, being used only to house the Crete Treasury.

 The Loggia's adventure continued even after the liberation from the Turks. After Crete's independence in 1898, the building, in an advanced stage of degradation, was taken over by the municipality of Heraklion to be transformed into the Town Hall. Restoration work has begun in 1915 with the help of the Italian government who empowered Maximillian Ongaro, the curator of the architectural monuments of Venice, to take care of the building work.  Although partially completed, restoration work was stopped and resumed after the end of World War II. 

 Properly refurbished and decorated, today the first floor has been turned into a special hall for ceremonies and the weekly meetings of the Municipal Council. The outcome of restoration efforts of the Loggia was rewarded in 1987 with the First Europa Nostra Prize for the best renovated and preserved European monument of the year.




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