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the Capital of Crete

by / Juhani

Updated 26.11.2012

Heraklion is the capital city and governmental centre of Crete. It is also the commercial and technological centre of Crete. There is full
of places to discover.  The location of the city at the crossroads of
three continents has filled the town with history. Medieval city centre
is worth of visit. The old town, as well as the newer part, is quite
hectic. Fortunately in Cretan fashion there are peaceful corners in
surprising places in the middle of the hectic everyday living. Moving by car is slow and parking places are very hard to find.

The approach to the city through the Old Road from the west and 700 meter altitude makes the descent to the city almost dramatic (see the photo below). In the picture below you can see the stadium at the western end of the city and further on  the fortress by the harbor. The new National Road by the coast offers beautiful scenery as well, but not quite as dramatic as the Old Road from the mountains.

Dramatic scenery from the west

The new National Road goes through the northern coast and is easy to drive fom the one end of the island to the other. National Road goes through the southern parts of Heraklion. Nikos Kasanzakis Airport is only few hundred meters away from this road.

Heraklion city offers a wealth of museums, arts festivals, historical sightseeings, amazing nightlife and events throughout the year.


The island of Dia
To the north of the city is the uninhabited island of Dia. An ancient Minoan settlement of Dia (approx 2700-1450 BC) was found by Jacques Cousteau. From the harbor you can get a boat to this island.

Lion Square
The heart of Heraklion. Here tourists and locals meet. Business and pleasure combine here. (Uppermost photo).

The Market
Walk through the Agora, the Market Street that runs alongside a shopping boulevard called 1866.

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion
The world famous Archaeological Museum (built between 1937 and 1940) is located on a site that had been occupied during the Venetian Period by an imposing Catholic monastery of St. Francis (destroyed by the earthquake of 1856). The Museum houses archaeological finds from all over Crete. The treasures of the Minoan culture can here be admired in all its historical continuity.

Historical Museum of Heraklion
It is dedicated to bring 2.000 years of history into life. In this museum  you can see early Christian artifacts, stonework and decorative objects of Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish origin. There is also a panoramic wooden model of medieval Heraklion.

The City Walls
Surrounded by a formidable medieval wall, Heraklion was protected from enemies.  Now it is possible to walk on the top of the walls and enjoy a view over the city.

The Minoan palace of Knossos is the most famous tourist attraction in Crete. It is located only 15 minutes from the town.  Knossos is primarily known for the fact that the Minoan culture was first discovered there. Before the findings in Knossos proved the fact, tradition was already familiar with the once flourishing culture. The proof was found as late as in the 20th century after Sir Arthur Evans started excavations around a hill he had purchased for himself.

Additional Information:

BOOK A HOTEL in Heraklion.

Heraklion on Google Maps

Nikos Kasanzakis Airport website: