Prefecture of Heraklion




Capital and largest city on the island

Heraklion, located on the north coast almost exactly at the mid-point of the coastline, has over 140,000 inhabitants. The city appears to have been laid out rather without planning, to be suffocated by traffic, but also able to conceal its finer aspects very carefully. This last impression is only gained by the visitor after a second glance. Heraklion is an important economic factor for the island with its freight harbour and ferry port, and large ‘Nikos Kazantzakis’ airport.  Thus, it is a point of transhipment for both goods and people, i.e. an entrance point for tourists.  There are connections to a number of islands and to the mainland. On the island, buses link the individual villages and the metropolis centres of Chania, Rethymnon, and Ayios Nikolaos can be reached from Heraklion. It is also the home of two universities, museums and other important cultural facilities. For example, the Palace of KNOSSOS is only 4 km away.

The city has changed its name over the course of time, for example from Handakas to Candia, and in 1821, to Heraklion. The original defensive wall was 4 km long with bastions and six city gates, of which four still stand. The city was destroyed during the 2nd World War, and then rebuilt.




Archaeological Museum, Tel: 2810 226092. One of the most important museums in Greece. The most complete collection of Minoan art, sculptures, pottery, sealstones, goldsmith’s work and metalwork. Famous wall-paintings from the Minoan palaces and the unique stone sarcophagus from Ayia Triada.

Historical Museum, Tel: 2810 283219. Exhibits from the Byzantine, Venetian, Turkish and more recent periods. Collection of weavings, folk costumes and wood carvings. There is also a reconstructed Cretan house.

Natural History Museum, Tel: 2810 393276. Illustrates life in Minoan times, houses fossils, rocks, minerals and a plant and animal collection.

Museum of Icons, Tel:2810 288825. An important collection of icons of the Cretan School and unique frescoes, in the church of Ayia Ekaterini.

Nikos Kazantzakis Museum2810 741689, open daily, from Nov. - March only sundays. Info


Venetian architecture

Martinengo Bastion:  a well-preserved bastion, part of the defensive works. These were originally built by the Arabs and extended by the Venetians. Tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis.

Porta Hanion, one of the original city gates.

Fortezza or Castel Koules, at the entrance to the Venetian harbour.

Bedenaki, as the harbour wall is known today. It reached to a point near the shipyards.

Morosini Fountain, in Plateia Venizelou.

Dellimarco Fountain

Bembo Fountain, on the north side of Plateia Kornarou, 1866 Street.

The Palazzo Ducale, seat of the Venetian governor of Crete.

Ayios Markos, the church of the patron saint of the Venetians.

Ayios Titos, today an Orthodox church, in former times a mosque. The reliquary of Titus, patron saint of the island, is kept in this church.


Churches and monasteries

Ayios Minas is the largest church in the city, with a capacity of 8,000.  Located in Plateia Ekaterinis.

Mikros Ayios Minas, right next to the large church.

Church of Ayia Ekaterini (St. Catherine), today a museum of religious art with icons byMichael Damaskenos.



Situated on the Martinengo Bastion of the city wall. From here there is a fantastic view out over the city. Reached via Odos Nikolaou.

Knossos 8.00 - 17.00 h

Buslines:: 2810 245020