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Heraklion is the largest city and capital of Crete.It is also the 4th largest city in Greece.Heraklion is the capital of Heraklion peripheral unit, with an international airport named after the writer Nikos Kazantzakis.The ruins of Knossos,which were excavated and restored by Arthur Evans,are nearby.

Heraklion is close to the ruins of the palace of Knossos, which in Minoan times was the largest centre of population on Crete.Though there is no archaeological evidence of it, Knossos may well have had a port at the site of Heraklion as long ago as 2000 BC.The present city of Heraklion was founded in 824 AD by the Saracens who had been expelled from Al-Andalus by Emir Al-Hakam I and had taken over the island from the Byzantine Empire. They built a moat around the city for protection, and named the city rabd al-Handaq (Castle of the Moat).The Saracens allowed the port to be used as a safe haven for pirates who operated against Byzantine shipping and raided Byzantine territory around the Aegean.

In 961, the Byzantines, under the command of Nikephoros Phokas,later to become Byzantine Emperor, landed in Crete and attacked the city.After a prolonged siege, the city fell.The Saracen inhabitants were slaughtered, the city looted and burned to the ground.Soon rebuilt, the town of Chandax remained under Byzantine control for the next 243 years.After the Venetians came the Ottoman Empire. During the Cretan War (1645–1669), the Ottomans besieged the city for 21 years, from 1648 to 1669, perhaps the longest siege in history. In its final phase, which lasted for 22 months, 70,000 Turks, 38,000 Cretans and slaves and 29,088 of the city's Christian defenders perished.The Ottoman army under an Albanian grand vizier, Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Pasha conquered the city in 1669. Under the Ottomans, the city was known officially as Kandiye (again also applied to the whole island of Crete) but informally in Greek as Megalo Kastro ("Big Castle").During the Ottoman period, the harbour silted up, so most shipping shifted to Chania in the west of the island.

How to Reach

By Air

Heraklion International Airport, or Nikos Kazantzakis Airport is located about 5 km east of the city.The airport is named after Heraklion native Nikos Kazantzakis,a writer and philosopher.It is the second busiest airport of Greece,due to Crete being a major holiday destination.

By Sea

Heraklion is an important shipping port and ferry dock.Travellers can take ferries and boats from Heraklion to a multitude of destinations including Santorini,Ios Island,Paros,Mykonos,and Rhodes.There are also several daily ferries to Piraeus,the port of Athens on mainland Greece.

By Road

European route E75 runs through the city and connects Heraklion with the three other major cities of Crete : Agios Nikolaos,Chania,and Rethymno.

Key places to visit
Historical Museum of Crete, Palace of Knossos, Amoudara Beach, Cretaquarium, Museum of Visual Arts, Ottoman Vezir Mosque, Venetian walls, Venetian fortress of Rocca al Mare


Places to Visit

Historical Museum of Crete

Is a museum in Heraklion,Crete,Greece.The Museum presents a comprehensive view of Cretan history from early Christian times to the present day. It was founded in 1953 by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies, which had been established two years earlier.The founders' goal was to collect and preserve valuable archaeological,ethnographic and historical material deriving from the medieval and modern periods in Cretan history.The museum is housed in a two-storey neoclassical building, which was constructed in 1903 on the site of an earlier mansion.

Palace of Knossos

Is the site of the most important and best known Minoan palace complex in Crete.It is located some 5 km (3 mi) south of Heraklion.According to tradition,Knossos was the seat of the legendary Cretan king Minos.The Palace is also connected with further legends,such as the myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur,as well as the story of Daidalos and Ikaros.Excavation has revealed that the site was continuously inhabited from the Neolithic period (7000-3000 B.C.) until Roman times.

Amoudara Beach

The city's beach area a three kilometer strip of sandy beach,lots of cafes,bars and hotels and the site of "Technopolis"a modern multiplex cinema and open-air theatre.experienced and amateur riders can ride at the beach of Karteros,or take riding lessons at Ippikos Omilos Hrakliou,located 6km east of Heraklion,in Karteros.


The biggest aquarium in the Eastern Mediterranean.Located about nine miles east of Heraklion on the National Road (signposted) or by Cretan Intercity in the month of June -September 09:00-21:00 and in the month of October-May 09:00-19:00.

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