Heraklion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete. It is the fourth largest city in Greece. According to the results of the 2011 census, the population of the city proper was 140,730 inhabitants, the municipality's was 173,993 while the Heraklion urban area has a population of 225,574 and it extends over an area of 684.3 km 2 (264.2 sq mi). Heraklion is the capital of Heraklion regional unit. The Bronze Age palace of Knossos, also known as the Palace of Minos, is located nearby. 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 rabḍ al-ḫandaq 'Castle of the Moat' in the 820s. This was hellenized as Χάνδαξ ( Khándax) or Χάνδακας (Khándakas) 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 (Μεγάλο Κάστρο, 'Big Castle' in Greek ) or Castro and its inhabitants were called Kastrinoi or Castrini ('castle-dwellers' in Greek ). The ancient name Ηράκλειον was revived in the 19th century and comes from the nearby Roman port of Heracleum (" Heracles's city"), whose exact location is unknown. English usage formerly preferred the classicizing transliterations "Heraklion" or "Heraclion", but the form "Iraklion" is becoming more common. Heraklion is close to the ruins of the palace of Knossos , 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. Knossos or Cnossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and is considered Europe's oldest city. The name Knossos survives from ancient Greek references to the major city of Crete. The identification of Knossos with the Bronze Age site is supported by tradition and by the Roman coins that were scattered over the fields surrounding the pre-excavation site, then a large mound named Kephala Hill , elevation 85 m (279 ft) from current sea level. Many of them were inscribed with Knosion or Knos on the obverse and an image of a Minotaur or Labyrinth on the reverse, both symbols deriving from the myth of King Minos , supposed to have reigned from Knossos. The coins came from the Roman settlement of Colonia Julia Nobilis Cnossus , a Roman colony placed just to the north of, and politically including, Kephala. The Romans believed they had colonized Knossos. After excavation, the discovery of the Linear B tablets, and the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris , the identification was confirmed by the reference to an administrative center, ko-no-so , Mycenaean Greek Knosos in Linear B, undoubtedly the palace complex. The second palace was built on a much grander scale over the old Palace after an earthquake destroyed it. The structure and ruins we see today are from the second Palace . During the Bronze Age, the town surrounded the hill on which the palace was built. The site was discovered in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos (Μίνως Καλοκαιρινός). The excavations in Knossos began in AD 1900 by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851–1941) and his team, and they continued for 35 years. The palace was excavated and partially restored under the direction of Arthur Evans in the earliest years of the 20th century. Its size far exceeded his original expectations, as did the discovery of two ancient scripts, which he termed Linear A and Linear B , to distinguish their writing from the pictographs also present. From the layering of the palace Evans developed de novo an archaeological concept of the civilization that used it, which he called Minoan, following the pre-existing custom of labelling all objects from the location Minoan. The palace of Knossos was undoubtedly the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. It appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and storerooms close to a central square. An approximate graphic view of some aspects of Cretan life in the Bronze Age is provided by restorations of the palace's indoor and outdoor murals, as it is also by the decorative motifs of the pottery and the insignia on the seals and sealings. The palace was abandoned at some unknown time at the end of the Late Bronze Age, c. 1380–1100 BC. The occasion is not known for certain, but one of the many disasters that befell the palace is generally put forward. The abandoning population were probably Mycenaean Greeks, who had earlier occupied the city-state, and were using Linear B as its administrative script, as opposed to Linear A, the previous administrative script. The hill was never again a settlement or civic site, although squatters may have used it for a time. However, fieldwork in 2015 revealed that during the early Iron Age, Knossos was rich in imports and was nearly three times larger than indicated by earlier excavations. Whilst archaeologists had previously believed that the city had declined in the wake of a socio-political collapse around 1200 BC, the work of the Knossos Urban Landscape Project found that the city had prospered instead. Except for periods of abandonment, other cities were founded in the immediate vicinity, such as the Roman colony, and a Hellenistic Greek precedent. The population shifted to the new town of Chandax (modern Heraklion ) during the 9th century AD. By the 13th century, it was called Makruteikhos 'Long Wall'; the bishops of Gortyn continued to call themselves Bishops of Knossos until the 19th century. Today, the name is used only for the archaeological site now situated in the expanding suburbs of Heraklion. In the first palace period around 2000 BC the urban area reached a size of up to 18,000 people. In its peak the Palace and the surrounding city boasted a population of 100,000 people shortly after 1700 BC. The present city of Heraklion was founded in 824 by the Muslims under Abu Hafs Umar who had been expelled from Al-Andalus by Emir Al-Hakam I and had taken over the island from the Eastern Roman Empire. They built a moat around the city for protection, and named the city rabḍ al-ḫandaq ("Castle of the Moat"). It became the capital of the Emirate of Crete (ca. 827–961). The Saracens allowed the port to be used as a safe haven for pirates who operated against Imperial (Byzantine) shipping and raided Imperial territory around the Aegean. The Emirate of Crete (called Iqritish or Iqritiya) was a Muslim state that existed on the Mediterranean island of Crete from the late 820s to the Byzantine reconquest of the island in 961. Although the emirate recognized the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate and maintained close ties with Tulunid Egypt, it was de facto independent. A group of Andalusian exiles conquered Crete in c. 824 or in 827/828, quickly establishing an independent state. Numerous attempts by the Byzantine Empire to recover the island failed disastrously, and for the approximately 135 years of its existence, the emirate was one of the major foes of Byzantium. Crete commanded the sea lanes of the Eastern Mediterranean and functioned as a forward base and haven for Muslim corsair fleets that ravaged the Byzantine-controlled shores of the Aegean Sea . The emirate's internal history is less well-known, but all accounts point to considerable prosperity deriving not only from piracy but also from extensive trade and agriculture. The emirate was brought to an end by Nikephoros Phokas , who launched a huge campaign against it in 960–961. In 961, Byzantine forces under the command of Nikephoros Phokas , later to become Emperor, landed in Crete and attacked the city. After a prolonged siege, the city fell. The Saracen inhabitants were slaughtered, the city looted and burned to the ground. Soon rebuilt, the town was renamed Χάνδαξ, Chandax , and remained under Greek control for the next 243 years. In 1204, the city was bought by the Republic of Venice as part of a complicated political deal which involved, among other things, the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade restoring the deposed Eastern Roman Emperor Isaac II Angelus to his throne. The Venetians improved on the ditch of the city by building enormous fortifications, most of which are still in place, including a giant wall, in places up to 40 m thick, with 7 bastions, and a fortress in the harbour. Chandax was renamed Candia and became the seat of the Duke of Candia , and the Venetian administrative district of Crete became known as "regno di Candia" ( kingdom of Candia ). The city retained the name of Candia for centuries and the same name was often used to refer to the whole island of Crete as well. To secure their rule, Venetians began in 1212 to settle families from Venice on Crete. The coexistence of two different cultures and the stimulus of Italian Renaissance led to a flourishing of letters and the arts in Candia and Crete in general, that is today known as the Cretan Renaissance. After the Venetians came the Ottoman Empire. During the Cretan War (1645–1669) , the Ottomans besieged the city for 21 years, from 1648 to 1669, perhaps the longest siege in history. In its final phase, which lasted for 22 months, 70,000 Turks, 38,000 Cretans and slaves and 29,088 of the city's Christian defenders perished. The Ottoman army under an Albanian grand vizier, Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha conquered the city in 1669. Under the Ottomans, the city was known officially as Kandiye (again also applied to the whole island of Crete) but informally in Greek as Megalo Castro (Μεγάλο Κάστρο; "Big Castle"). During the Ottoman period, the harbour silted up, so most shipping shifted to Chania in the west of the island. In 1898, the autonomous Cretan State was created, under Ottoman suzerainty , with Prince George of Greece as its High Commissioner and under international supervision. During the period of direct occupation of the island by the Great Powers (1898–1908), Candia was part of the British zone. At this time, the city was renamed "Heraklion", after the Roman port of Heracleum (" Heracles' city"), whose exact location is unknown. In 1913, with the rest of Crete, Heraklion was incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece . Heraklion became capital of Crete in 1971, replacing Chania.