Heraklion is the city with the most vivid history on the island of Crete, with one of the most interesting histories in the world. Do not forget that the Greek civilization that enlightened the world with its values started here in Crete, with the Minoans and their great civilization. The history of Heraklion starts from the prehistoric years and it is full of excitements.
Our tour starts at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion that is located at the centre of the city of Heraklion. It houses representative artifacts from all the periods of Cretan prehistory and history, covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. The singularly important Minoan collection contains unique examples of Minoan art, many of them true masterpieces. The Heraklion Museum is rightly considered as the museum of Minoan culture par excellence worldwide. Learn where it all started at the hot spot of civilasiation.
Lions scuare (Fontana Morozini)
Second stop at the Lions scuare (Fontana Morozini) which is located at the heart of the city’s town center. Build by the Venetians in order to solve the Heraklion city’s water problem, was providing 1000 barrels of water per day and was transferring water to the town center from 15 kilometers away from Juctas Mountain. An amazing achievement at this age. Opposite to the fountain of Morozini, is the Saint Marcus Basilica, a monument that the Venetians build in order to honor the patron of Venice Saint Marcus. Today houses the Municipal Gallery of Art and it is open for the public almost every day, throughout the day. The square nowadays is the busiest spot in the city and a very popular place for any visitor to try traditional bougatsa cream pie or cheese pie. Order a Greek coffee in one of the many cafeterias of the square and let the flavors travel your mind back to those years.
The cathedral of Saint Mina’s
The third point of interest to be visited is one with a special place in the mentality of the citizens of Heraklion. The cathedral of Saint Mina’s, patron and protector of the city of Heraklion was built in 1735. At the square of Saint Mina’s cathedral the headquarters of the Archiepiscopate of Crete are located to the south site, and on the north site of the Cathedral the Saint Ekaterina church. Urban legends suggest that during the Second World War, bombs dropped at the cathedral could not penetrate it. The legend suggests that German pilots changed their religion after witnessing this miracle. Believe the legend or not, visitors are amazed from the magnificence of the cathedral and the tranquility one feels after the visit in Saint Mina’s cathedral.
Nikos Kazantzakis tomb
The next visit is at Nikos Kazantzakis tomb. Kazantzakis is the most important Cretan writer and modern philosopher, and one of the most important in Europe. His books are translated in almost every language. The movie ‘ Zorbas the Greek” is based in his book. The famous composition of Mikis Theodorakis “Syrtaki” was first heard in that movie winning 3 Oscars. Nikos Kazantzakis was criticized heavily during his life from the Catholic and the Greek Orthodox Church. His book The Last Temptation of Christ was prohibited from the Vatican to be read from Christians and following that the Greek Orthodox Church excommunicated him. That is the reason why his tomb is not in a cemetery but just outside the walls of his beloved city of Heraklion. His work has been recognized worldwide both before and after his death.
Fortress of Koule and the old port
One to be remembered is the last stop of our tour. The Fortress of Koule and the old port of Heraklion. The trade mark monument of the city, and one of the most beautiful sites for one to visit. Koule fortress was build by the Venetians in order to protect the city from the pirates and Turks. Used as a prison and torturing place for Greek rebels, its walls are haunted with stories of war, rebellion and resistance. Today stands proudly next to the old port. The old port nowadays connected to the new port is playing a very important role not only for the Island of Crete but also for the whole East Mediterranean area. The old port is filled with yachts and fishing boats. Fishing boats are providing fresh fish products to the whole city of Heraklion and near the Koule Fortress entrance the central fish market can be found. Yes you guessed right! Fish taverns located at the perimeter of the old port is a very good idea to be visited as well. Do not forget to try one of the local varieties of wines to accompany your preferred fish plate.