My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. And, Heraklion is the largest city on the island. I have been traveling to Greece since I was very young but recently I had the pleasure of visiting Crete for the first time. Visiting Crete was a real treat and spending time in Heraklion, Xania and Malia was spectacular; kind of a taste test of the island! Each city had distinct differences.
Today, however, I'm just going to discuss Heraklion and my time spent there.
A Bit About Heraklion
Located on the island of Crete, Heraklion has a population of about 215,000. It's located in about center of the island and is an important port city. The port was built in 1928, offering daily ferry service to several destinations within Greece both on the mainland and other islands. Albeit small, there is also an international airport. Both of these transportation services have been an integral part of tourism growth in Heraklion and the island of Crete as a whole. In 2017, tourism grew 11.2% with 3.2 million visitors. It is no longer a sleepy island off tourist's radar!
Things to See and Do in Heraklion
I personally found Heraklion to be a very walkable city, as I only needed a taxi to and from the airport.
As with most port cities, Heraklion has had a number of cultural influences throughout history due to numerous invasions and periods of occupation. Originally settled and developed by the Minoans, it later came under the control of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, followed by Venetian, Roman, and Arab rule. Finally, in 1913, the island was incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece. The cultural influences are very apparent and it is for this reason, that as you wander the landmarks, it is like taking a walk through history.
The Palace of Knossos
The Palace of Knossos is Minoan (dating back to 7000 to 1000BC) and provides the visitor a bird's eye view of the labyrinthine and architecture of that culture. Legend tells us the Cretan king Minos occupied the palace. We also find the myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur, as well as the story of Daidalos and Ikaros, stem from this location.
Built in the 16th century, Koulos Fortress was constructed by the Venetians and is located at what is now known as the old port. The Ottomans took over the fortress in 1669 when the Venetians surrendered the city. Amazingly, the fortress is mostly still intact.
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Morosini Fountain is also known as Lion's Fountain. It is the hub of the pedestrian district of Heraklion. Built by the Venetians, the original purpose was to supply water to the inhabitants. When it was built, it supplied about 1,000 barrels of water a day. Water gushed from the mouths of the lions and the people would come with containers and would take the water back to their homes. Today, there are restaurants, cafes, shops, and other businesses surrounding the square. It is situated in such a way similar to a roundabout (pedestrian only) and 3 of the roads which originate in the square lead you to the sea.
My Time in Heraklion
My visit to Crete included 3 days in Heraklion, then 3 days in Xania, and back to Heraklion for 2 days. On the return to Heraklion, we drove to the village of Malia about 20 minutes away, and spent the afternoon there.
The weather was beautiful and going in October, the crowds were light. The visit was the best of both worlds; fantastic weather and no crowds! I don't think a traveler can really ask for more than that! I loved Heraklion and would love for you to either relive memories or to inspire your travel to the fabulous city on the island of Crete. Enjoy the following walking tour of the city!
With Greece being the homeland of my family, it was a real pleasure to get to Crete. Finally! I found Crete to be its own world; unlike the mainland or the other islands. The dialect is different, the food a bit different, and the culture as a whole, different. Different in this case was wonderful. The experience added perspective to the country of Greece. It gave me a different viewpoint. Just like in the United States, regions are differentiated by food, lifestyle, and dialect; this is how I view Crete. The purpose of the trip was more for relaxing and getting together with some friends I have who were spending a few months there. The trip was a great success and as always, fabulous memories!
Until next time friends, remember "To Travel is To Live!"
© 2022 Dee Nicolou Serkin