The Image and the City - The War for Candia previous 3/6 next

Candia: the hundred cities




In addition to the city of Candia  the island was famous for the land of a 'hundred cities': hamlets, castles, and villages dotted the map of the countryside. It is worth noting that of the 218,000 inhabitants counted in the 1583 census, around 190,000 lived outside the four principal cities (Candia, Chania , Rethymno and Siteia ); in 1636 the general demographic increase of the population of Candia revealed 223,000 inhabitants in the country as opposed to 31,000 in the city. Travellers describing the island from 1400 onwards invariably note this extraordinary density of habitation, which distinguished it from other Mediterranean islands. But the Venetian Provveditori  describe the physical and architectural appearance much more truthfully. Giacomo Foscarini referred to almost exclusively rural centres which were sometimes actually abandoned, 'run wild',1 and 'partly demolished because of the passage of time and other various incidents'.2

1 'inselvatichiti'
2 'per la longhezza del tempo et varii incidenti in parte smantellati'

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Viaggio virtuale tra le fonti storiche veneziane
Rotta: Venezia e il Levante (sec XV - sec XVIII)
© 1996 by the VENIVA consortium