Welcome to Heraklion
The city of Heraklion is the administrative capital of Crete and the fourth largest city in Greece.
Unlike Chania and Rethymno, it is a modern city, rebuilt after brutal bombing.
Heraklion Holidays - Greece
Heraklion / Iraklio
Over time, the city has been the slave-trade capital of the eastern Mediterranean, a Byzantine fortress town, a Venetian haven, and after a period of Turkish Rule, became the capital of Crete in 1971. It is not as charming as the other major centres in Greece, but there is a lot to offer in and around the town.
There is a good chance that if you are visiting from abroad that Heraklio may be your first stop. The international airport, named after Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of Zorba the Greek. Many famous and infamous people have called the city home over time, including the painter, El Greco.
If you have a day to spend in the city there are some wonderful walks that can be taken, and there is a bustling atmosphere to the city, which is infectious and uplifting. Although it may not be as classically beautiful as the other major cities on Greece, there are a number of churches and squares to be explored, and if you search it out, evidence of the Venetian splendour for which the city was once known. There are also a number of wonderful fountains, large and ornate to be visited, the Bembo Fountain at the southern end of town is touted as a Turkish creation, but it actually goes back to Venetian times.
The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion is second only in importance to the one in Athens, and it is well worth the entry price to spend a day looking over the antiquities on display. Many of the artefacts have been sourced from Knossos, only a few kilometres away, showing the sophistication of the Minoan people who lived in the region. The items on display are fascinating, from mosiaics, to pottery, to amazing gold figures that carve a place in the Greek identity. This one museum shoudn’t be overlooked on a visit to the region.
Knossos is the main attraction of Heraklion. What was the capital of Minoan Crete; it is now the islands main attraction. The British Archaeologist, Sir Arthur Evans, excavated the site in 1900 and then sections of the palace were reconstructed over the next 40 years.
The site isn't like many other Grecian ruins, where you can stand perplexed looking at a mass of rocks and ruins. Knossos is a labyrinth of rooms and passages, displaying the splendour of the age. The colourful mosaics and frescos give an idea of how advanced the civlisation was before earthquakes damaged the site in 1700BC and fire finally destroyed the site in 1450BC. Knossos is a place you will want to spend a day exploring, investigating the fascinating surroundings, so comfortable shoes and water are necessary.
Places to visit
Knossos, Festos, Matala, Hersonissos, Malia