Heraklion Jewish Cemetery
There is evidence of a Jewish presence in Heraklion as early as the 12th century, and the population flourished under Venetian rule (from 1204). From the 14th century, the Jews lived in a ghetto and established 4 synagogues by the end of the century. In the 15th century, Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews immigrated and joined the Romaniot (Byzantine) community, which gained renown for its efforts to raise money for the release of captives. In 1845, an earthquake destroyed most Jewish homes and the two existing synagogues. In 1884, the community suffered a blood libel. Towards the end of the century, the community organisedmprayer services and Jewish education, but only 20 families remained in 1897. After the Balkan wars (1912-13), the Jews numbered 52. The Germans invaded Crete in May 1941, launching an aerial attack that destroyed the only synagogue. There were then 26 families. After this, a ship bearing 400 Greeks and Italian prisoners of war was bombed and none survived. Only three Jews who survived in hiding remained in Heraklion after the war.
The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown, but it can be specualted that it may have existed as early as the 12th century. Most likely, it was founded around the 13th century.