Greece - Heraklion

GREECE - HERAKLION 

 

Heraklion at a glance

Heraklion was originally founded by the Saracens in 824, but, nearby Knossos was the centre of the Minoan empire at 5000 years ago. Its Europe’s oldest civilisation.

It is Greece’s largest and most populated island, Crete(Heraklion) sits in the Mediterranean, in the Aegean Sea, south of Athens and West of Turkey. Heraklion is on the central north coast of Crete.

              

 

It has a population of 173,993 and the language is Greek.

The climate from April to June is perfect, with highs in the 60’s and to high 70’s. summers in Heraklion are warm to hot (low 80’s to 107) and dry. Its cooler inland in the higher elevations and snow stays year round on the higher peaks. Some say Crete has the best climate in the world.

The currency used is Euro.

Places of Interests

Knossos Palace

Heralded as one of history’s most significant finds, Knossos Palace is a marvel of frescoes, graceful columns, and intimate rooms. home of mythical Minotaur, the partially restored site remains an architectural wonder.

 

 

Heraklion

Founded by Arab refugees in 824 A.D, conquered by the Byzantines about 150 years later, it’s the Venetians who contributed the stunning monuments, fountains, squares and city walls that you’ll encounter on sightseeing tours.

 

 

 

Kera Kardiotissa Monastery

Considered Crete’s most important Byzantine church, inside you’ll find remarkably vivid frescoes form the 14th and 15th centuries. The monastery is equally famous for its Virgin Mary icon. Which is believed to have performed miracles.

 

 

Spinalonga Island

Lying just offshore from the seaside resort of Elounda, Spinalonga Island was once home of a mighty 16th century Venetian fortress. The now deserted island served as a leper colony until 1957.

 

 

 

 

Elounda

The picturesque seaside resort boasts luxury hotels, quaint taverns, stunning beaches and breath-taking sea views that stretch across Mirabello Bay.

 

 

Arolithos Cultural Village

Arolithos may look centuries old but it’s actually a recreated Cretan Village. Built in 1988, the town boasts art workshops, two houses, a hotel, a restaurant and a tavern, a café and a small church.

 

 

 

DID YOU KNOW’S?

  • Cretan-locals refer to themselves as Cretan and not Greek.
  • The olive was first cultivated here.
  • Europe’s first palace was built in Crete
  • Crete was the world’s first sea power.
  • There are more than 3000 caves in Crete.
  • The modern sewage system was invented here 4000 years ago.
  • Cretans have the highest health levels in the world.
  • There are more than 2000 different plant species on the island,157 being unique.
  • Anthony Quinn- played the 1964 title of Zorba the Greek, shot entirely on Crete.
  • Linear A is an un-deciphered alphabet dating back to Minoan culture and is unrelated to any known language. Linear A is also called Minoan, which no-one can speak or read. There are literally hundreds of signs and symbols.
  • The Minoans ruled Crete and much of the Mediterranean some 5000 years ago. The epic eruption of Mt. Thera about 3500years back effectively destroyed the Minoans through giant tsunamis, earthquakes and ash and caused a near worldwide volcanic winter felt as far away as China. Some postulate this region was Atlantis.
  • The Minoan Bull in Greek mythology id from Crete. Legend states it fathered the Minotaur (half man, half bull) and was captured by Hercules. Crete’s bull is also Taurus-the constellation and zodiac sign from those born from April 21 to May 21. Taureans are dependable, generous, patient and persistent.
  • Crete’s national dance is called the Pentozali. It means both ‘five jumps ‘and ‘five times dizzy’. It’s very acrobatic and improvisational, with the men’s traditional black riding britches perfect for the acrobatic movements. The Pentozali is a ritual war dance-meaning staging a mock battle -that dates back centuries.

 

 

Practical information:

Proper attire is required when visiting churches, cathedrals and other sacred places. Shorts for both men and woman are considered improper. The archaeological site of Knossos requires significant walking over uneven ground. Comfortable shoes are suggested.

Beaches

Amoudara, the nearest beach, is approximately 4 miles from the pier. Hersonisos beach is located about 16 miles from the pier, about a 30-minute taxi ride.

 

 

Shopping:

The main shopping street in Heraklion is the 1866 Open Market street located in the centre of the city nearby Lions Square. Shops normally open Monday-Friday 9h00am to 8h00pm; Saturday from 9h00am to 2h00pm. On Sundays and holidays, only tourist shops will be open. Shopping is very typical of the rest of Greece. You will find beautiful jewellery featuring the Key of Life pattern, ancient looking coins and museum replicas, ceramics and leather wear. 

       

 

Banks

Many major banks are located on the 25th August Street in the town centre.

 

Taxis

Taxis are located at the passenger terminal near the Port Gate and throughout the city. Most drivers speak limited English. Taxi journey to the city centre will cost approximately 10 Euros.