On this Day: 25th of August 1879 in Heraklion, Crete
The most historical and beautiful street in Heraklion is the street with the beautiful neoclassical buildings, the Venetian Loggia, and the church of Agios Titos, connecting the Venetian harbor to the Square of Lions. This is called 25th of August Street.
During the Venetian Era, it was called Rouga Maistra, while the Turks later called it Vezir Tsartsi.
However, a very interesting name that was later used was Plani’s Street (i.e. Delusion Street) because of the beautiful neoclassical buildings that gave visitors a false picture of Heraklion which, besides this street, was full of poor and dirty neighborhoods.
On August 25th 1897 a Christian official, who was appointed to manage the customs office in Heraklion, was being escorted by British troops along the street from the harbour, when they were attacked by a mob of Turkish fanatics.
Muslim guerrillas then proceeded to massacre more local Christians in the city. As a result 14 British military personnel were killed, the British vice-consul and his family were burnt alive in their house and about 800 Christian inhabitants were massacred. After the slaughter, the Turks plundered shops and burnt down houses belonging to Christians.
This all occurred as a reaction to the offer of a series of civil rights to the Christian community.
After this crime the British navy sailed into the harbour and the city was cleared of Turkish troops. The massacre contributed to the expedition of the end of the Turkish occupation of Crete. From this moment on, the European nations supported the Cretan aspirations for freedom.
All in all a brutal story for a street so beautiful. 25 August Street is now a paved pedestrian street, and boasts the most beautiful Neoclassical buildings in Heraklion. Today they house banks, travel bureaux and tourist shops.
These buildings were erected to give Heraklion the air of a modern city.
The street was ironically known as “Odos Planis” which means “the Illusion Street”. Visitors come up from the harbour and see this beautiful first impression of the city, which can turn out to be a bit disappointing further on.
The reason was the handing of the management of the toll office of Heraklion to a Christian official, which was a term for a new autonomous Cretan State, under the supervision of English troops. This tragedy forced England, Russia and France to accept the Cretans’ request for the abandonment of the Turkish army from Crete.
Nowadays, August 25th Street is paved and welcomes locals and tourists from all around the world. Along its way, visitors will find travel information centres, travel agencies, retail and souvenir shops as well as banks and other thriving businesses. Follow its coastal path to find the seafood tavernas and enjoy delicious Cretan specialities.