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Origins (Rizes)

The ancient history of Heraklion is strongly associated with the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Ancient historians such as Strabo refer to Heraklion as the port of Knossos, the center of Minoan civilization. This period reached its peak from the 16th to the 14th century BC and excavations have revealed a wealth society that based its economy on agriculture and trade.The Minoans had developed an important navigation system, had built ships and had made beautiful pots to restore their trading goods, usually olive oil, cereals, and wine. This was a peaceful society as archaeologists believe since no fortifications protected the towns. The space-planning of the era is impressive and so are the frescoes that have been discovered in the palace of Knossos.

 

Recent Years

Even though Heraklion has a busy city center, it keeps its fairytale vibe. Strolling around Heraklion town, you will come across Koules fortress, at the Venetian port, Turkish and Venetian fountains, Venetian buildings, the Venetian Loggia and museums, such as the famous Archaeological Museum, the Historical Museum and the Museum of Natural History. Heraklion is the birthplace of El Greco and Nikos Kazantzakis. The sea, as well as the area's antiquites, excellent food and friendly, welcoming people make Heraklion a delightful and vibrant place to visit.

Heraklion has undergone a significant makeover in recent years - this is a result of being chosen as an Olympic city ...partly but mostly because of the city's increasing prosperity. Infrastructure works have included redevelopment of the waterfront ( have a nice walk there ), improved roads and a city bypass to ease traffic congestion and maybe the most important much of the historic centre has been turned into pleasant pedestrian strips. Enjoy his all year round sunny weather and discover its  hidden gems by strolling around.
https://www.heraklion.gr/en/visitor/walking-town


Venetian Fortress of Heraklion (Koules)

The legendary Venetian Fortress of Heraklion, which is also called Koules (meaning ‘fortress’ in Turkish), is an impressive fortress that surrounds the city’s harbor. The massive fortress was built by the Venetians in the early 13th century, when they conquered the town. Today, the fortress occasionally hosts art exhibitions, plays or concerts. Koules Fortress is the symbol of Heraklion Town. It stands at the entrance of the port and dominates over the lovely Venetian harbor.

Walking along the seaside boulevard

The seaside boulevard starts next to the Koules Fortress and continues to the Pankritio Stadium. On the boardwalk, there are various monuments, small parks, waterfront, a dog park, a children’s playground, a small area for skaters, as well as restaurants and cafes here and there to sit relax and enjoy the view. Although there's a highway right next to it, it’s easy to be captivated by the magnificent ocean. The Natural History Museum is also located along the boulevard.

 

Natural History Museum of Crete

The Natural History Museum of Crete was established in 1981 and is located on Sofokli Venizelou Avenue in Heraklion, in an industrial building that once used to house an electricity power plant. The awarded museums is focused on the study, protection and promotion of the Eastern Mediterranean region’s flora and fauna. If you are a friend of nature and you are interested in getting familiarized with the natural treasures of the wider area, you should make a visit. It is divided into five sections: Zoological, Botanical, Anthropological, Paleontological-Geological, and Mineralogical. Since its foundation, the museum tries hard to enrich and expand its collections and to organize exhibitions and educational programs for its visitors.


 
 

Saint Minas Cathedral

Saint Minas is the patron saint of Heraklion, and his feast-day (11th of November) is a public holiday in the city. The imposing Saint Minas Cathedral was planned by the architect Thomas Mousis, and was established on the 25th March 1862 as an expression of the residents’ gratitude for the protection offered by the saint to the city. Next to the cathedral, which is one of the largest in Greece, is located the church of Saint Catherine, as well as the Saint Catherine Square.

Saint Titos church

The Church of Saint Titos is located on 25th Avgoustou Street and is one of the most important monuments in the city of Heraklion. The history of the church goes back to 961, when Nikiforos Fokas drove the Arabs out of Crete and brought the island once again under the influence of the dominant Byzantine Empire. The church of Agios Titos was built at that time in order to reawaken Orthodox influence and tradition on the island. During the following centuries the building remained a symbol of Heraklion, always under the city’s dominant influences (for example, during the Turkish occupation of Greece, and Crete, it became a mosque). Nowadays, near the church you will find the wonderful Agios Titos Square, with nice cafeterias and bars.

 

Venetian Loggia

In the center of Heraklion Town, on the square of Saint Titus and along 25th August street, you will find an impressive building of the Venetian times that has survived and functions till today: the Venetian Loggia, a typical construction of the Venetian rule, has been renovated and hosts today the Town Hall of Heraklion.

 

The Fontana Morosini

The Lions in Heraklion is the square of the Fontana Morosini, the ornate Venetian fountain with four lions with water gushing from their mouths. The Fontana Morosini is in Eleftheriou Venizelou Square in the centre of Heraklion, but the inhabitants of the city never use the official name, usually referring to it as the Lions Square or the Lions for short. The fountain with the lions is one of the most important monuments the Venetians bestowed on Heraklion. When it was built, it offered a solution to the problem of supplying Heraklion with water, providing 1,000 barrels of water a day. Todays, this meeting point for many locals is full of life and surrounded by cafes that serve traditional bougatsa pie.

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is among the most important museums in Greece. Its exhibits include representative samples of all the historical and prehistorical periods of Crete, covering a period of 5,500 years from the Neolithic till the Roman times. However, above all, the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion hosts the masterpieces of the Minoan civilization as it exhibits findings from Knossos, Phaestos, Zakros, Malia and other important Minoan excavations on the island of Crete.

 

Knossos Palace

Delve into the history and mythology of Crete to discover the first European civilization. Explore the Palace of Knossos along with the unique exhibits of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion and let the stories of the past ignite your imagination. Discover the secrets of the historical site, appreciate its allure and make your trip to Crete both enjoyable and educational with an expedition across Crete’s heritage!

KNOSSOS, the largest and most important of the Minoan palaces, and the most visited, lies some 5km southeast of Iráklion. The mythological home of King Minos and the Minotaur, it dates from the second millennium BC, and its vast interconnected rooms and corridors provide a fitting backdrop to the legend.

 

CretAquarium

This aquarium is especially well-suited for families with children. It is one of the largest aquariums in Greece and Europe with more than 2,500 different sea creatures to admire closely. The aquarium is situated just outside the city in the military area of Gournes. If you don't have a car at your disposal, there’s a bus connection to the direction of Hersonnissos-Malia available. There is also a long, well-functioning sandy beach opposite to the building, so it is worth taking your swimming gear with you for the trip.

Historical Museum of Crete

With a succession of foreign occupiers, Crete's history is complicated but fascinating. This museum traces 1,700 years of history on the island, from early Christian times to the modern era. You'll see religious icons, stone carvings, ceramics, textiles, and folk costumes from the Byzantine, Venetian, and Turkish periods, as well as somber space dedicated to the Cretan Resistance Movement and those who lost their lives during WWII.Particular highlights include two paintings from the 16th century: The Baptism of Christ and the View of Mt. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catharine.Everything is well presented and clearly labeled, and there's a peaceful garden café. You'll find it in a restored neoclassical mansion, a 10-minute walk west of the old harbor.

 

Shopping in the Old Town

 

The Old Town of Heraklion has close to 1,000 shops, many of which are found in the extensive maze of pedestrian-only streets. Located in among the narrow streets and alleys, you'll find lovely restaurants, hidden patios, and retail shops selling pretty much anything you can imagine. If you are on the hunt for the perfect souvenir from Crete, head to the pedestrian-only 1866 Street, known as the Central Market. This narrow street is full of vendors, with wares piled high and spilling out onto tables. You can find shirts, fridge magnets, jewelry, linens, and all manner of kitsch for sale. If you have no room in your bags, don't worry, even luggage to transport all your new purchases is available.The shops, restaurants, and cafés are literally everywhere in the Old Town. Just pick a street and start walking, take random turns, and you'll be amazed at what you discover

 
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