Heraklion City

Heraklion is the largest city in Crete, located roughly in the centre of the north coast. Heraklion has a population of 131,000 (2001 census), but it is thought that approximately 200,000 people live in Heraklion Municipality and the neighbouring Alikarnassos Municipality today.Heraklion is the 4th largest city in Greece. It has the largest port and airport in Crete. Heraklion Airport is also known as “Nikos Kazantzakis” International Airport, in honour of the most famous Cretan writer worldwide. Over the approximately 3,000 years of its existence, Heraklion has had a turbulent history. We do not know precisely when the low hill which now forms the centre of the city was first inhabited. In antiquity the main urban centre was Knossos. As for the name Heraklion, it probably comes from the Idaean Herakles, legendary founder of the Olympic Games. The history of Heraklion can be divided into the following periods:

  • Minoan Heraklion, creation of the first settlement by the name of Heraklion (9th century BC)
  • Byzantine Heraklion or Kastro
  • Arab Heraklion Chandax Great Castle
  • Second Byzantine Period
  • Venetian Heraklion or Candia
  • Turkish Heraklion
  • Heraklion at the turn of the 20th century Heraklion in the Second World War

Heraklion is the main city on the island of Crete and usually the starting point for holiday visitors wishing to explore the island. The city, built on a fairly steep hillside, has a huge harbor to accommodate ferries and cruise liners, and an international airport. Heraklion is busy, bustling and full of hotels, fast food outlets, shops and traffic. The main square of Plateia Venizelou is a pedestrian mall sporting cafés and restaurants, with some fascinating shops in the surrounding streets. Like many Greek cities Heraklion’s architecture was influenced by Venetian occupation, and a Venetian fortress dominates the harbor. Heraklion’s pride and joy, though, is its archaeological museum, which contains the world’s most comprehensive collection of arte facts from the Minoan civilization, which flourished on Crete around 1600 BC. Heraklion is close to the major archaeological site associated with the Minoans at Knossos.

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