Abaton Island Resort
Knossos Beach Resort
Situated in the prefecture also known as Heraklion, the city of Heraklion is vibrant and fascinating and is the capital city of Crete. As you would expect, it is a very busy town with many shops, bars, and tavernas. There is much to discover from morning until night.
Heraklion is most famous, of course, for the site of the Minoan Palace of Knossos which lies just a few kilometres to the south of Heraklion. Although the site was first discovered in in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos it was extensively excavated by the English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans in 1900. He spent 40years dedicated to the reconstruction of the Palace. It is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably Europe’s oldest city. The history takes us back 4500 years. Many Roman coins were found scattered over the site that depicted the Minotaur and the labyrinth.
There are several museums in Heraklion. The Archaeological Museum is amongst the most important in Europe and is well worth a visit as it houses artefacts spanning a period of 5000 years from the Neolithic period to Roman times. It is renowned for its collections and indeed considered to be ‘the’ museum for Minoan art.
The old Venetian fort of Koulos is located at the old port of Heraklion and reminds us that we are not the first travellers to visit this sun kissed island, we are merely following in the footsteps of many others including Romans, Venetians and Phoenicians. On the front harbour you will find many ‘ouzeries’ which specialize in ‘meze’ snacks that should be washed down with a glass or two of ouzo or ‘raki’. The old city is surrounded by Venetian walls.
There are other places of interest for the ‘culture vulture’ including the Natural History Museum of Crete which stores and protects fauna and flora of the eastern Mediterranean. The Museum of Visual Arts is also worth a visit and exhibits works of emerging Cretan artists in addition to those of more established artists. Its aim is to promote the cultural and artistic activities of Crete.
Heraklion airport is one of the busiest in Greece second only to Athens. Only a short drive away from the airport are many small resorts where you can enjoy fine beaches, soak up the sunshine and swim in azure waters. These include the smaller resorts of Anissaras and Agia Pelagia which is not far from the village of Fodele.
Fodele is birthplace to one of Crete’s most famous sons, namely Domenikos Theotokopolous, better known as El Greco (The Greek). His bold use of light and colour together with distinctive forms has been an inspiration to many modern artists. His works are exhibited in major art galleries all over the world and in Fodele you can see where it all began. Fodele is nestled in orange groves in the hills that surround Heraklion and its small Byzantine church and the house which is said to be the home of El Greco makes it unique.
A visit to the city of Heraklion and its surrounding area provides an opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of a sun kissed island whilst providing an insight into a more cosmopolitan aspect of Crete. Enjoy!