The Building

Loggia was the official meeting place for nobles and lords during the Venetian occupation of Heraklion. In this place, they discussed various economic, commercial and political issues that concerned the city or they spent their leisure time. It is an essential public structure in every Venetian town, and as such never absent even from the towns of the Venetian colonies. For Candia, now the city of Heraklion, is considered one of the most elegant architectural monuments of the Venetian period, and an example of Palladian style. The structure that survives today is the fourth in a row as there were three previous Loggias that were abandoned due to their location or destroyed over time.

The building existing today was first constructed around 1628 by the provveditore generale, or governor-general, Francesco Morosini, also known by the fountain of the same name in the center of the city. It was located next to the armoury (Armeria) and was a rectangular two-story building with Doric columns on the ground floor and Ionic columns on the first floor. Square pilasters were placed in the corners of the building. The semi-open space on the ground floor was surrounded by columns which were connected by low parapets with the exception of the middle arch which remained open marking the main entrance. The main entrance to the building is on the August 25th Street, then known as Ruga Maistra. Right above the arches of the ground floor there was a frieze consisting of triglyphs and metopes which were decorated with sculptures depicting various representations such as the Lion of St. Mark, trophies, armors and others. The corresponding frieze on the upper floor, that was never constructed, supported a balustrade with statues.

The continuation of Loggia

After the conquer of the city by the Ottomans, Loggia loses its old identity and glamour. The new conqueror had no need for such a structure which now became the seat of the highest financial official, Defterdar and the Secretary of the Port who was a Christian official responsible for handling affairs between the Christian inhabitants and the Turkish authority. The armoury (cephane) also belonged to the jurisdiction of the Defterdar. The difficulties for Loggia building still continued after the establishment of the independent Cretan State in 1898. The "Cretan State" proposed that the building should be used as an Archaeological Museum. However, after an earthquake occurred, the building was not safe and the idea of housing the museum there was abandoned. Later in 1904, the building was considered dangerous and the demolition of the first floor began, unfortunately without the appropriate diligence. The following year, it was granted to the Municipality, together with the Armory, to house its services. However, the restoration of the building will officially start 10 years later. Maximilian Ongaro, who was curator of the artistic monuments of Venice, was in charge of the general supervision of the project. Once again, the working progress was delayed. At the end of 1934, the building of the armory was handed over for housing some services of the municipality.

After the end of World War II, the restoration continued and was completed in 1960. Today, Loggia accommodates the Municipal Council of Heraklion. Also, the first floor has been formed into a special hall for accommodating ceremonies and meetings of the Municipal Council and, therefore, has been accordingly furnished and decorated. The crowning moment of all these efforts was the award granted in 1987 by the International Organization Europa Nostra for the most successful restoration of a historic building with modern use in Greece.