Heraklion, a city with long history and cosmopolitan character
Heraklion, lying along the north coast of Crete, is the largest city of the island that concentrates most of its economic activity. It has taken its current name since the liberation of Crete from the Turks, in 1898.
During the Minoan period, the city was used as the port of the legendary palace of Knossos. In its present location, Heraklion was built in 824 by the Arabs.
Taking a walk at the old town areas (established in the Middle Ages), you will get a keen sense of the glorious image of the past. It is obvious that Heraklion is living between the fastmoving currents of regeneration and the deep desire to maintain links with the old period; both these strands define city’s character.
Heraklion offers its visitors amazing places to discover: A wealth of
museums and archaeological sites, a summer cultural festival, an
extraordinary nightlife and numerous events throughout the year. The
city is easily approached by plane from all over the world and by boat
from Piraeus port or the nearby Greek islands.
Knossos is the heart of the Minoan civilization; the seat of the legendary king Minos and the birthplace of some mythical stories, such as the myths of the Labyrinth with its Minotaur and of Dedalos and Ikaros. The site of Knossos was inhabited since the Neolithic period (7000-3000 BC) until the late antiquity, and operated as a significant centre of trade and economy.
Large palace buildings, extensive workshop installations and luxurious rock-cut cave and tholos tombs, are some of its remarkable
The largest monument of the site and most spectacular is the Palace, which covers an area of 20.000 square metres. The location of ancient
Knossos was first spotted in 1878 by the Cretan antiquarian and merchant, Minos Kalokairinos.
In the same site, some must-seen monuments are the little Palace, the
Royal Villa, the Caravan-Serai. The numerous finds from the Palace, such as high-quality art, pottery, vessels, figurines, the archive of Linear B tablets and the original wall-paintings are all housed in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.
Tel.: +30 2810 231940
Tickets: Full: €15 – Reduced: €8
The second in size Palace in Crete -after the one in Knossos- Phaistos Palace (18.000m 2 ) was built on a rise in the western part of the large plain of Messara. The location had been selected in order to allow the local king to inspect the products of the plain and control the exit to the sea. This low hill is part of other small ones which extend towards the east, between Mount Ida in the North and Asterousia in the West.
The Palace of Phaistos is considered to be a typical sample of a Minoan palace, due to its perfect construction and architectural structure.
According to the Greek mythology, Phaistos was ruled by the king Rhadamanthus (son of Zeus and Europa).
Tel.: +30 28920 42315
Tickets: Full: €8 – Reduced: €4
THE HERAKLION ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
Located in the town centre, the Museum was constructed between 1933-1937. It is regarded as one of Europe’s most significant museums.
It brings together archaeological finds from all over Crete, covering over5.500 years of the island’s history, from the Neolithic period to Romantimes.
Justly regarded as the home of Minoan civilization par excellence, the Museum houses the most important collection of Minoan antiquities worldwide. Twenty-seven galleries are housed in the two-storeyed building houses, as well as a gallery for audio-visual displays, extensive modern laboratories and a museum shop that sells museum copies, books, postcards and slides.
Xanthoudidou 2 & Hatzidaki Str., Heraklion
Tel.: 2810 279000
Tickets: Full: €10 – Reduced: €5
NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS MUSEUM
Nikos Kazantzakis is widely considered a “giant” of modern Greek
literature, as he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in nine different years. The important author, philosopher and politician was born in Heraklion in 1883 and died in Fryberg of Germany in 1957. His works have been translated in more than 30 languages worldwide. The Kazantzakis Museum is located in central square of the historical village Varvari (Myrtia), and consists of a cluster of buildings. The Museum Exhibition is housed on a site formerly occupied by the home of the Anemoyannis family, which was related to Nikos Kazantzakis’ father, Kapetan Michalis.
The Museum was founded in 1983 by Yiorgos Anemoyannis, a pioneering figure in Greek theatre with the mandate to preserve the author’s memory and promote his work and thought. More than 50.000 items are exhibited in the Museum, grouped in a variety of collections (letter archive, photo and sound archive, manuscripts, artworks etc.)
Myrtia, Archanon-Asteriousion Municipality, Heraklion
Tel.: +30 2810 741689
Tickets: Full: €5 – Reduced: €3
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF CRETE
The Natural History Museum of Crete showcases in an innovative way the natural environment of the wider Mediterranean area, with special emphasis on Greece and Crete. The realistic representations of ecosystems found in the Eastern Mediterranean region, called Mega-Dioramas, constitute the biggest part of the Museum’s exhibition. The visitors have also the opportunity to visit the “Living Museum”, a special arranged area with small scale aquariums and terrariums housing living animals from Eastern Mediterranean region.
An educational seismic table (earthquake simulator) is operating at the Museum offering visitors the opportunity to learn about earthquakes and experience, in a safe environment, real earthquakes.
Knossou Ave., Heraklion
Tel.: +30 2810 324366
Tickets: Full: €7,5 – Reduced: €4,5
HISTORICAL MUSEUM OF CRETE
The Cretan History -from early Christian times to the present day- is presented in a comprehensive view in the Historical Museum of Crete.
The Museum was founded in 1953 by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies, with the goal to collect and preserve valuable archaeological, ethnographic and historical material deriving from the medieval and modern periods of Cretan history. The process of enriching the collections, extending exhibition space and redefining the museum’s aims has never ceased.
The museum offers a genuine learning experience to visitors. Among the exhibitions, you shouldn’t miss the Medieval and Renaissance Collection, the Struggles for Cretan Freedom, the Folklore Collection, Nikos Kazantzakis’ Room, Emmanouil Tsouderos’ Room, A.G. Kalokerinos’ Room and Ceramics’ Room.
27, Sofokli Venizelou Ave. – Heraklion
Tel.: +30 2810 283219
Tickets: Full: €5 – Reduced: €3
ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF ARCHANES
The Archaeological Museum of Archanes is one of the most significant archaeological sites of Crete. It hosts stone and clay objects as well as the exact copies of some of the most important archaeological finds of the area Archanes-Yuhtas.
Ano Archanes, Tourkogeitonia – Heraklion
Tel.: +30 2810 752712
Open after agreement
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF GORTYNA
Gortyna, is one of the most important cities in Messara plain, in south central Crete. It is one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Greece with an unbroken history of 6000 years. The place was first inhabited at the end of the Neolithic period (3000 BC) and by the late Minoan period (1600-1100 BC) it became a flourishing settlement.
Remains of the Archaic period (7th century BC) were located in the area of the Acropolis.
The most important monuments of the site are: Odion, the Gortyna Law Code (450 BC), the Isieion, the Temple of Apollo Pythios (7th century BC), the Praetorium, the northeastern Cistern and the Nymphaeum, the Acropolis on the hill of Agios Ioannis (10th-6th centuries BC), the Church of St. Titus, (7th century AD), the Triconch church founded probably over the tomb of the Ten Cretan Martyrs (5th century AD).
Agioi Deka, Heraklion
Tel.: +30 28920 31144
THE PALACE OF MALIA
The third in size of the Minoan palaces lies at 7.500 square metres. It is situated on the North coast of Crete, 3 km east of Malia town.
The archaeological site was inhabited at the Neolithic period and its findings reveal that the city was prosperous. The palace of Malia is of classical Minoan style and according to tradition it was ruled by the third son of
Zeus and Europa, Sarpedon, brother of the legendary king Minos.
Tel.: +30 2897031597
Tickets: Full: €5 – Reduced: €3
MALEVIZI ARCHAEOLOGICAL COLLECTION
The Malevizi Archaeological collection consists of artefacts from all the periods of Cretan History. It includes about 500 exhibits of the private collection “Metaxa” and a numerous of other finds which are presented in a large hall in the municipality building, in 40 display cases.
Gazi City Hall, Heraklion
Tel.: 281 340 0669
On the north-western part of the former American Base of Gournes, theCretAquarium offers its visitors a wonderful experience of the Sea world. As one of the largest and most modern aquariums in Europe, CretAquarium “expertizes” in presenting species and ecosystems of the Mediterranean, the sea of unique biodiversity. Offering 60 tanks of different sizes, containing a total amount of 1.700.000 litres of sea water, it houses 2000 sea animals and 200 different species found in the Mediterranean basin.
Additionally, CretAquarium designs and implements educational programmes, treats injured animals and is firmly enriched with new marine species. Each year, millions of visitors from all over the world visit the Cretan Aquarium.
Former American Base in Gournes, Heraklion
Tel.: +30 2810-337788
Tickets: Full: €10 – Reduced: €6
Gorge of Agios Nikolaos Zaros
A 4 km length gorge that cuts the imposing mountain of Psiloritis from the North to the South. The gorge links Rouvas’ forest to the valley of Koutsoulidis’ river, near Zaros village -one of the most beautiful large villages in Crete. It is undoubtedly the most impressive gorge in central Crete as it combines a rare landscape of rich vegetation with an extraordinary geomorphology. The gorge is also regarded as an historical place hosting the old churches of Agios Nikolaos, Agios Minas and Agios Euthymios, as well as the ruins of the Roman Aqueduct at the spot Sterna. If you decide to visit the place, you will need one and a half an hour of hike to discover its natural beauty.