AND GREEK ISLANDS
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
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.
Heraklion has two major hospitals (the
University Hospital and the Venizeleio
Hospital). It is also the home of the University
of Crete Schools of Sciences and Health Sciences
(8,000 students). It is also the seat of the
Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas
(ITE-FORTH), one of the largest research centres
in the country, and the Technological
Educational Institute of Crete (6,500 students).
There are 8 University Schools and 11 Technical
Schools (TEI) in total.
Is Heraklion a beautiful city or an ugly city?
Read how people describe the city of Heraklion.
In order to comprehend the reality of a place,
one must know its history. Understanding the
past sheds light on the present and allows us to
predict the future.
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
Byzantine Heraklion or Kastro
Arab Heraklion Chandax Great Castle
Second Byzantine Period
Venetian Heraklion or Candia
Heraklion at the turn of the 20th century
Heraklion in the Second World War.
How to travel to Heraklion
By air: Heraklion Airport is 5 kilometres east
of the city, in the Nea Alikarnassos area. It is
officially known as Nikos Kazantzakis Heraklion International Airport, in honour of
the famous Cretan writer.
Heraklion Airport is linked to many cities in
Greece, while in the summer months it receives
thousands of charter flights from Europe. Flight
companies offering domestic flights into and out
of Heraklion Airport are Olympic Airways, Aegean
Airways and Sky Express.
Find your way to or from Heraklion Airport
By sea: There are daily ferry routes to
and from Heraklion Port, connecting it to the
port of Piraeus, Santorini and other islands in
the Cyclades. Large, modern Minoan Lines and
ANEK ships cross to Piraeus, while you can
travel to Santorini and the Cyclades by very
Heraklion Port is also visited by many cruise
ships all year round.
By road: Heraklion is linked to all the
towns and cities of Crete by a good road
network. It is on the north road axis which runs
along the whole of the north coast of Crete from
west to east, connecting the towns of Kissamos,
Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos and
From here, too start the main road arteries
linking Heraklion to the Messara plain (Malata,
Phaistos, Gortys, Mires, Tymbaki) and the
Viannos area (Peza, Arkalochori, Viannos, Arvi,
Keratokambos) in the south of Heraklion
Given that Heraklion is in the centre of Crete,
it is easy to travel from here to every corner
of Crete, either by public bus (KTEL) or by
Heraklion, Sights - City Tour
Aerial photograph of Heraklion showing proposed
routes in the city centre.
Route 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11 covers all the
sights in the city centre.
Route 1-2-3-8-9-10-11 is more relaxed and easier
if you are only visiting Heraklion for a short
Eleftherias Square (Νο 1), the main square of
Heraklion with the St George Gate, the
Prefecture and the Archaeological Museum
Daidalou Street (Νο 2), the commercial
pedestrian street in the heart of Heraklion.
Korai Street, the Heraklion cafe district
Lions or Lions Square (Νο 3), Eleftheriou
Venizelou Square, site of the Morosini Fountain,
the famous Venetian fountain with the lions
Meidani (Νο 4), the central Heraklion crossroads
The main Heraklion market in 1866 Street (Νο 4
to Νο 5)
Bembo Fountain, a wonderful Venetian fountain
next to a Turkish monument in Kornarou Square
Kornarou Square, the square of Erotokritos and
Aretousa, heroes of the great Cretan writer
Saint Minas, (No 6) the cathedral dedicated to
the patron saint of Heraklion
Kalokairinou Avenue, the Platia Strata of Heraklion
Basilica of St Mark, (No 3) the Heraklion
Municipal Art Gallery
Venetian Loggia, the most elegant Venetian
monument in Heraklion
Saint Titus, (No 8) the church of St Titus or
Agios Titos in Greek.
25th of August Street, Illusion Street, the
most beautiful street in Heraklion
Heraklion Harbour, the old Venetian harbour (No
9) and the new Heraklion port
Koules, (No 10) the Venetian fortress at the
entrance to the harbour, symbol of the city of
Coast road, Heraklion nightlife, Dominican
Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Natural History
Museum, Talos Shopping Centre, Pancretan Olympic
Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, housing the
major exhibits of Minoan Crete
Historical Museum of Crete (No 11)
Museum of the Battle of Crete
Natural History Museum.