Today is another anniversary of the cataclysm that almost completely destroyed Heraklion. On this occasion, we would like to introduce you to some facts related to the earthquake that took place in 1856 in Heraklion.
Source of the photo: www.zarpanews.gr
Seismic activity in the form of earthquakes is one of the elements inscribed in the daily life of the inhabitants of Crete. These extremely powerful forces of nature have repeatedly left their mark on the history of the island. Particularly strong earthquakes in ancient times led to the falls of one civilization and the creation of new ones. It would probably not be the case of the shocks that took place on Sunday, September 30, 1856. Although more modern earthquakes obviously have an impact on the functioning of local communities, they do not significantly affect the development of human civilization.
Based on the descriptions of the then inhabitants, the strength of the earthquake recorded on that day in Crete is estimated at 7.7 degrees on the Richter scale. It was probably one of the strongest earthquakes that hit the island.
Let the strength of this disaster prove the scale of damage that was noted by people employed in the then administration. In Heraklion, which due to the proximity of the epicenter, suffered most of the cities, almost all of its buildings were damaged or seriously damaged. Out of 3,620 houses in the city after the earthquake, only 18 were fit for safe living. That day, Heraklion also lost many of the important public buildings. Among others, the temple of St. Titus, which was then a mosque. The church of St. Minas. The Ducal Palace, which was located opposite the Basilica of St. Mark. The strength of the earthquake also did not resist elements of fortifications surrounding Heraklion. Barracks of St. George and the vault of one of the Venetian entrance gates.
According to modern studies, what influenced the tragic balance of this earthquake in Heraklion was the way houses were built at that time. Roofs were placed on buildings of relatively light construction, which were covered with heavy ceramic tiles. As a result of shocks, the weakened walls of the houses were not able to lift this heavy construction and consequently collapsed, burying the inhabitants inside.
It is also worth mentioning here that a direct impact of the disaster survived some houses and utility buildings, which were entirely made of wood. The more flexible construction has resisted the effects of shocks. Unfortunately, 48 of these buildings were also completely destroyed as a result of a fire that raged just after the earthquake. It is now assumed that the source of fire may have been matches then used. You certainly know the picture of cowboys lighting matches by rubbing them on your pants. This high sensitivity to friction could be one of the reasons for the fire that occurred after the earthquake.
In total, 538 people died as a result of this disaster in Crete, and a further 637 were injured. 11 317 houses were destroyed throughout the island. The condition of more than half of them, i.e. 6512 exactly, did not allow any repair work to be undertaken. These buildings were considered as completely destroyed.
Fairly large damage was also recorded in Rethymno, where a large part of the building collapsed. According to reports from contemporary chroniclers, not a single victim of this cataclysm was noted there. In Chania, most homes suffered more or less damage. However, in this city only a few of them collapsed completely.