Crete, Destinations

Heraklion

Heraklion

The Heraklion region is the largest and most densely populated on the island of Crete. Located between the Idi (Psiloritis) mountains to the east and Dikti (Lasithiótika) to the east, it has important archaeological treasures, a series of picturesque villages, extensive valleys with olive trees and vineyards and one of the most organized tourist infrastructures in Crete.

A unique combination of urban landscape and natural wealth makes the region of Heraklion an attractive destination all year round.

In the city of Heraklion are clearly reflected the different cultures that flourished during the centuries: Byzantine buildings next to the Venetian buildings and Ottoman structures. The emblem of the city is the fortress Koules of the sixteenth century that dominates the Venetian port.

Among the most important monuments of Heraklion are the walls, the tomb of the Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis, the Chanioporta with the lion of San Marco of the year 1570 and the Fortress Koule in the old Venetian port.

The first fortifications were built by the Arabs in the fifteenth century and were reinforced by the Venetians. Of the seven bastions, the bastion “Martinengo” survives, where is the grave of the famous writer Nikos Kazantzakis, while of the four entrance doors to the city survive, the Chanioporta, with the characteristic lion next to San Marcos and the New Door On the south side.

In the heart of the city you can see monuments of the Middle Ages, the square and the temple of San Tito and the Loggia Veneciania.

Another characteristic of Heraklion are the Venetian and Turkish sources that are dispersed by all the city. The best known is the Venetian Fountain Morozini or Fountain of the Lions (1628), which is the landmark for residents and visitors. Of the Turkish sources it is of particular interest the Source of Charity “Filanthropiki Krini” (1776), next to the source Bembo, which is currently used as a cafeteria.

The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is one of the most important in Greece, its purpose is to preserve, study, exhibit and promote the cultural heritage of Crete from prehistory to Roman times. The museum houses almost all the treasures of the Minoan Civilization found in Knossos, Festos, Malia and other parts of the island.

Nearby Heraklion

5 kilometers from Heraklion is Knossos, one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe. Knossos was the most important center of the Minoan civilization from 1900-1400 BC. that was destroyed by the tsunami produced by the eruption of the volcano of Santorini in the year 1450  AC.. In the area of ​​Knossos was the largest palace of the Minoan Crete. In the area are the ruins of the Palace of Minos, the houses of the officials, the priests and the residents as well as the cemeteries. The palace was of labyrinthine construction, built around a central courtyard. It occupied an area of ​​22,000 square meters and included royal chambers, places of worship, treasury, workshops and warehouses.

63 km to the south-west of Heraklion are the ruins of the

Palace of Festos, the second most important palace-city of Minoan Crete, inhabited since the Neolithic period. The architectural design is identical to that of Knossos. The palace covered an area of ​​approximately 9,000 square meters. Near the village of Malia, 34 km east of Heraklion excavations revealed another palace similar to those of Knossos and Festos.

46 kilometers south of the city of Heraklion, on the plain of Messara are the ruins of the ancient city of Gortina, the acropolis and the necropolis covering an area of ​​4,000 hectares. The findings date from the sixteenth century BC. until the second century AC..

The beaches of Heraklion

The beaches in the northern part of the island are organized and busy. The best known are Amnisos, Gouves, Hersonissos Analipsi, Hersonissos, Malia, Linoperasma which is the nearest beach to the city of Heraklion, Agia Pelagia and the nearby Lygaria beach.

The beaches on the south coast may not be organized, but are the least visited and have a special charm. The best known beaches are Kommos, Matala, Kaloi Limenes and Agia Galini.

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