Greece / Heraklion

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Heraklion: The "capital" of Crete.

Heraklion is considered the "capital city" of Crete, as it is its the largest city. The presence of the Venetians was also intense here, as it is witnessed not only by the architecture of a lot of buildings, but by the findings hosted in the city's museums as well. Heraklion was the center of the Minoan civilization, with Knossos, the palace of King Minos, and Festos, to be situated within the county borders.

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Welcome to Heraklion!

The city of Heraklion is built during the Minoan period and is The Morosini Fountain in Eleftherios Venizelos Squareinfluenced by the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Venetians and the Turks. Providing the largest port and airport of the island, the city is well networked and accessible. The Old City of Heraklion is separated with the Venetian walls, which were used for its fortification. Have a tour along the narrow streets of the city, setting off from the Eleftherias Square with the Gate of Saint George, the Prefecture and the Archaeological Museum. In the Eleftherios Venizelos Square, you can see the Morosini Fountain, or else the fountain with the lions. Right opposite lies the Basilica of Saint Marcos, one of the most important Venetian buildings, where the Municipal Gallery is housed. Still, in the Kornarou Square, or else the Falte Mosque, you can see both the Bembo Fountain and the Sembil of Hatzi Ibrahim Aga. In a short distance it also lies the Cathedral of St. Minas, built in 1735. Finally, do not miss visiting the church of St. Titus, which was originally built in 961 by Nikiforos Fokas, then it was demolished by an earthquake and rebuilt in 1856 in its present form .

Rendezvous in the Old Port

Fortress KoulesThe old Venetian port of Heraklion, is part of the modern port. It flourished during the Venetian period, when it started to be considered the biggest export port of the country and the largest in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. At the entrance of the port stands the imposing fortress Koules, or else Castello a Mare, whose construction was completed in 1540.

 

At the center of the Minoan World

The archaeological site of Knossos, is located The Palace of Phaistosjust 5km away from the city of Heraklion. The first settlement dates back to 7000 BC, but the majestic palace is estimated to have been built in around 2000B.C. Eventually, the palace was completely destroyed by fire in 1350B.C. and it took the form of today. The archaeological site of Knossos is discovered  by A. Evans in 1900, with excavations that lasted 31years. According to mythology, Knossos, the famous palace of the legendary King Minos, housed the Minotaur, a creature half a human and half a bull, in a maze, which was a construction of Daedalus. Theseus was finally the hero who managed to kill the Minotaur, in his attempt to get out of the maze. The complicated architecture gives breath to the myth in several parts of the archaeological site.

The Minoan Palace of Phaistos is 55 km from Heraklion and is one of the most important and well known archaeological sites in Crete. Similarly to the palace of Knossos, it was erected in around 2000 B.C. and was preserved until the 1st century B.C. It was discovered at about the same era (1900) with Knossos, but unfortunately without its buildings being preserved and being  in a similar situation to those palaces of Knossos.

Aquaworld, a wonderful marine world!

aquarium AquaWorldExplore the magical world of the seas by visiting the Aquarium AquaWorld in Heraklion. Here fish and marine organisms from the coast of Crete are hosted, as well as reptiles of the Cretan land.

See species that will impress you and reinforce the efforts of the Aquarium to protect marine life. It is, of course, ideal for young gentlemen and ladies!

 

Museum WealthThe blue ladies from the Minoan palace of Knossos

The most important findings of the excavations in the Minoan palaces, including the Disk of Phaistos, have been  transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and cover a period of 5500 years. The Archaeological Museum completes the Historical Museum of Crete, hosting exhibitions of sculptures, ceramics, Byzantine and post-Byzantine period, and the permanent exhibition of the historic artist from Heraklion, Domenicos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), with only two art works: The View of Mount Sinai and its monastery (1570) and the Baptism of Jesus Christ (1569).

The beaches of Heraklion

Kokkini Hani Beach The beaches could not be missing from Heraklion. Within walking distance from Heraklion you will find organized, sandy beaches, such as the Red Hani, Amoudara and Arina. Move south towards the famous Matala, a favorite destination of chips in the 60 'and 70' and Sidonia, two beaches that deserve your attention.

GastronomyFried snails

The county of Heraklion and more specifically the Archanes area, is famous for its award-winning wines. There are several ,local recipes which are not only  accompanied but also are completed. Special dishes that you can find, which are combined with the red wine  of the county, are the chochlii boubouristi (known as snails) and the cock in a wine sauce.

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