Prefecture of Heraklion

The Prefecture extends in the north from Fodele to Mallia, and in the south from Kokkinos Pyrgos to Vatos.

The peripheral unit Heraklion is subdivided into 8 municipalities. These are (number as in the map in the infobox):

This is the largest and most populated prefecture of the island, with the highest per capita income of all its inhabitants. It boasts a good infrastructure, and through the international airport and large harbour offers good connections with the mainland and the rest of the world. The cross-country bus service connects it to the other urban centres on the island. Good, varied sightseeing, long beaches and very good tourist facilities make this prefecture one of the favourite holiday regions of the island.

Sightseeing

Ayia Triada: The ruins of a palace have been excavated in the locality. This was probably the summer residence of the ruler of Phaistos.

Amnissos: East of Heraklion, this was the harbour of Knossos. Famous through the Minoan Villa of the Frescoes , also known as the Villa of the Lilies.

Archanes: South of Heraklion. The remains of a palace complex have been excavated here. Chambered tombs were discovered on the hill of FOURNI, and a Minoan temple at ANEMOSPILIA ARCHANON.

Gortys: South of Heraklion. In the Roman period this was the capital of the province of Crete and Cyrenaika.The beginnings of the city, however, are to be traced back to the Minoan period. Amongst things to see are the oldest legal tablets (Gortys Code) in Western Europe.

Kato Simi Viannos: A sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite.

Knossos: East of Heraklion. The site was inhabited from the New Stone Age onwards. The first Palace of Knossos - the largest and oldest of the Cretan palaces -was built around 2000 BC, and destroyed around 1700 BC by an earthquake. It was subsequently rebuilt, more beautiful and magnificent than before. Smaller noble villas were constructed around the complex. In all, three palaces were built on top of each other, after repeated destructions. The palaces were the seats of rulers, and administrative and religious centres.  Apart from the Palace of MINOS, the (capital?) city of Knossos comprised the residences of officials, the houses of the common folk, and cemeteries. The palace is so convoluted in layout that it must have seemed like a LABYRINTH. The complex is grouped around a central court. Of particular interest are the beautiful frescoes in the Throne Room. All life in the palace was extinguished around 1200 BC.

A MUST amongst sights to see on Crete!!

Levena: In the extreme south. Sanctuary of Asklepios and rock-cut graves.

Mallia: East of Heraklion. Minoan palace, remains of the city and a cemetery at Chrysolakkos. The Palace of Mallia constituted another centre of power. The facade was built of beautifully hewn stone blocks and exhibits buttresses and recesses along its course, especially visible in the western section. Various rooms led off from the central court, which was closed by pillared corridors on two sides. The presence of constructed upper floors can be discerned from the early period in Mallia, mainly above the west wing of the palace. These upper floors were probably reached via a large stairway from the central court. The eastern part of the palace consists exclusively of simple, ground-floor storerooms with plastered walls, situated between the court and the surrounding wall. These contained vessels for the storage of provisions.  The hall which bordered the central court in the north bears witness, through its method of construction, to the influence of Egypt on Crete.

Phaistos: South-west of Heraklion. The second most important centre in the Minoan period. According to mythology, it was ruled by RADAMANTHUS, brother of King MINOS. A complex of over 9,000 sq metres, remains of the ancient palace. The floors and walls of the palace are beautifully lined with alabaster.

Vathypetro: South of Heraklion. A noble house dating from the Minoan period with a wine-press, olive-press, weaving shed and potter’s workshop.

Museums

Archaeological Museum of Heraklion: Contains the most important finds from Crete.

Archanes Archaeological Collection (Tel. 2810 752712). Finds from the palace of Archanes, the cemetery of Fourni and the Minoan temple of Anemospilia.

Myrtia: Katzanzakis  Museum (Tel: 2810 742451). A building in the birthplace of this novelist (Zorba the Greek), with exhibits of manuscripts, photographs, costumes etc.

Hersonissos: Lychnostatis - openair museum near the sea. http://www.lychnostatis.gr/

CretAquarium

Thalassacosmos: You will see more than 2500 fishes and other sea animals in the basins of the aqua zoo. Daily open , in sommer from 9 to 21 and in winter from 10 to 17.30.

Gournes / Heraklion  Tel.: +30 2810 337788  >http://www.cretaquarium.gr/<

Churches and monasteries

Eisodia tis Theotokou, near Skotini, around 1 km north-west of Fodele. Built on the foundations of a church dating from the 11th century.

Vrontisi: Around 56 km south of Heraklion, fountain with relief decoration. Beautiful  panoramic view.

Varsamonero: Around 52 km south of Heraklion. The monastery church of Ayios Fanourios contains frescoes dating from the 15th century which are of great artistic and historic value – a monument to the Cretan School.

Basilica of Titus: at Gortys. Dates from the 6th century and is one of the most important monuments to Christianity on Crete.

Monastery of Kardiotissa: With the church of Panayia Kera, near Krassi.