Based on the living heart of Crete, you will discover the best parts of Heraklion, which take us from the Minoan civilisation to El Greco and Kazantzakis. Here are 6 things to do whilst visiting the beautiful Heraklion.
Visit the fortress-emblem
The Venetian fortress of Koules dominates the entrance of the old port of Chandakas. The Venetians called it “Fortress on the Sea” (Castello a Mare or Rocca a Mare), but today it retains its Turkish name. It is one of the most intimate and beloved monuments of the city, a symbol of Heraklion. Its construction lasted until 1540 while it fell into Turkish hands and the rest of Crete in 1669. For centuries, it protected the state and served as a liquid prison full of prisoners living in chains in its vast, dark galleries and rooms.
Walk in the village
No one expects that at 14 km from the bustling city of Heraklion is one of the most beautiful traditional settlements of Crete, Archanes. Colours, aromas, restored mansions, mild tourist development, and surrounding vineyards produce some of the best Cretan wines. At the entrance of the village is the imposing neoclassical building that houses the Center for Environmental Education and a little further down the white church of Panagia. Atmospheric neighbourhoods with well-preserved houses painted in cheerful colours, stone calendars with lanterns, the Folklore Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the sculpture workshop and the Museum of Cretan History and Tradition a little further out. One is more beautiful than the other.
Visit the metropolitan church
The metropolitan church of Agios Minas is the patron saint of Heraklion, as according to tradition, it saved the Christians of the city from slaughter when the Turkish, in the early 19th century, tried to exterminate them. The church was built for about thirty years and was inaugurated in 1896 with majestic ceremonies and glorious celebrations. Next to it is the small church of Agios Minas, older and repressed with exquisite hagiographies on the walls and icons of great Hagiographers.
The palace of Minos
Knossos, the most important archaeological site of Crete, is located 5 km southeast of the city of Heraklion and grows on the hill of Kefala in olive, vineyards and cypress trees. This is the most indicative remnant of the Minoan Civilization that developed in Crete. According to tradition, it was the seat of King Minos and the capital of the state, while the area of the palace of Knossos is associated with the fascinating myths of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur and Daedalus with Icarus.
The marine world of the Mediterranean
Cretaquarium is one of the largest and most modern aquariums in Europe and takes us to the magical marine world of the Mediterranean. Learn the secrets of the seabed through the 32 tanks with a total capacity of 1,600,000 litres of seawater, where you can learn about the habits of sea creatures. Live a unique experience feeding the animals and cleaning and checking the tanks by divers, activities which you can watch at specific times.
In the footsteps of Nikos Kazantzakis
The museum that honours Nikos Kazantzakis consists of a set of buildings and is located in the central square of the historic village of Barbarians, today’s Myrtia. There you can easily be transported by your private vehicle. In case you do not own your own vehicle, you can turn to the solution of rental cars of the company Enjoy Travel, located in the city of Heraklion. This way, you will have the opportunity to visit the museum and the other areas around Heraklion.
Finally, at the museum, you will discover manuscripts and notes of the author, samples of correspondence with great thinkers, politicians and writers of his time, first editions of his works in Greek and other languages, rare photographic material, souvenirs from his travels and personal objects.