Heraklion City Information (Handy Travel Guide - by wikitravel )
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Heraklion (Greek Ηράκλειον, also transliterated as Heraklio,Iraklion or Irakleio) is the major city and capital of the largest Greek island of Crete. Its Archaeological Museum holds the remains of the 3000-year old Minoan civilization, which grew aroud the nearby legendary palace of Knossos (of Minotaur fame), as well as Byzantine churches and a well-preserved Venetian wall and fortress from the 15th century
Heraklion (or Herakleion, Iraklio, Irakleion) is the capital of Crete and an industrialised city of around 155,000 residents. The modern city is densely populated and traffic chocked, at first overwhelming the visitor. However, in recent years, things have began to change and efforts are being made to bring out the beauty of the city's rich cultural history. Strolling along the coastline, the city Wall, or down a park can reveal various historical remains of potentially immense interest to the watchful eye. The knowledgeable visitor will be able to trace the past under the urban sprawl of the present. The core of the city is still enclosed and defined by the Venetian wall, which includes seven outjutting bastions. In the southernmost of these, the Martinengo Bastion, is the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, standing on a windswept hilltop with its moving inscription, "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free."
Heraklion has a Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and dry with clear skies. Dry hot days are often relieved by a system of seasonal breezes. Winters are mild with relatively little rain and rare frosts.
Located in the middle of the island, all roads lead to Heraklion. Heraklion has a busy harbour and very busy airport and usually is the starting point of travels to Crete and nearby islands.
There are daily flights from Athens airport and other major Greek cities by Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines . During summer, Sky Express flies to several Aegean islands.
From April till early November charter airlines fly directly to Heraklion from many European airports.
There are ferries from Athens (Piraeus ) to Heraklion, Minoan Lines , Anek Lines and Superfast Ferries - and also there are normal ferries from Dodecanese and Highspeed Catamarans and normal ferries from Cyclades to Heraklion, Sea Jets , Santorini Maritime and Hellenic Seaways The frequency is reduced in the winter.
For more informations about flights and ferries you can contact Travel Experience www.travel-experience.gr
There are Highspeed Catamaran and normal ferries from/to Heraklion, Athens (Piraeus) to Heraklion, Minoan Lines , Anek Lines [ and Superfast Ferries - and also from Cyclades and Dodecanese to Heraklion. Sea Jets, Santorini Maritime and Hellenic Seaways . The frequency is reduced in the winter. Also every summer there is One Day Cruise from Heraklion to Santorini by cruise boat or highspeed catamarans
The Minoan Palace of Knossos tel: +30 2810 231940, +30 2810 226470, +30 2810 226092, +30 2810 224630 fax: +30 2810 241515 . Full ticket: €6, Reduced: €3; Special ticket package: Full: €10, Reduced: €5, valid for: Heraklion Archaeological Museum and Knossos Site, Open Winter: Daily 08.30-15.00 Summer: 08.00-19.30. Knossos (Greek Κνωσός, the accent is on the second syllable) 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.
Koules, the Venetian castle in the Harbour (Greek: Κούλες)
St. Catherine of the Sinaites Church(Greek: Αγία Αικατερίνη Σιναϊτών)
St. Mark's Basilica(Greek: Βασιλική Αγίου Μάρκου)
Dominican Church of St. Peter(Greek: Άγιος Πέτρος Δομηνικανών)
Museums and Galleries
Heraklion Archaeological Museum 2 Xanthoudidou Street, tel +30-2810-224630, 280370, fax +30-2810-332610, houses the most important and representative finds from Minoan civilisation and excavations across the island of Crete. Highlights include statues of the Snake Goddess, the famous Bull-Leaping Fresco, the enigmatic and mysterious Phaistos Disk, and Minoan seals and jewelery. Also includes a number of finds from Classical Greek and Roman periods. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one of the world's great museums, embodying a whole splendid vanished culture. At least two hours should be allowed to see it, and it could easily take longer. For those seriously interested in that culture, it will be worth while to make two visits to the museum, one before, and one after, visiting Knossos and other Minoan sites: seeing the museum first will enhance your understanding of the sites, and after seeing the sites, you'll be better able to understand the artifacts in the museum when you return.Note: The Heraklion Archeological Museum closed in November 2006 for renovations. The museum's current status and date of full reopening are uncertain.A temporary, partial exhibit has been opened which is placed at the southern part of the old museum at I. Hatzidaki street, where someone can see the most important exhibits of the museum, among which are the Snake Godess and the Phaistos Disc
Museum of the Battle for Crete and National ResistanceRecounts the tale of Cretan and Allied resistance against Nazi invaders in World War II.
Museum of Natural History, University of Crete, S. Venizelou Ave., Tel./Fax: +30 2810 324366,.
Historical Museum of Crete, 27, Sofokli Venizelou Ave. /7, Lysimachou Kalokerinou St., Tel: (++30) 2810 283219, 288708,.
CretAquarium Thalassocosmos open June -September 09:00-21:00 October-May 09:00-19:00 tel Reception: +30 2810-337788 Bookings: +30 2810-337888, fax: +30 2810-337882, the biggest aquarium in the Eastern Mediterranean. Located about nine miles east of Heraklion on the National Road (signposted) or by Cretan Intercity Bus (tel +30 2810 246530); for more information call the Reception number, above.
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum Open daily from 9AM-7PM (Mar-Oct); 10AM-3PM (Nov-Feb), €3, tel +30 2810-741689, in the village of Myrtia (Varvari) 15 km. south of Heraklion, directions on the museum's web sitefocuses on Crete's most prominent modern intellectual figure.
Heraklion Summer Arts Festival- from June to September
Amoudar at he 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.
Horseback riding, 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.
Rock Climbing, localers and visitors can climb on a 50 foot rock at the suburb of Karteros, east of Heraklion. Safety equipment is provided, but one can use his own gear too.
Water fun, at the nearby Water City and Aqua Plus water parks.
TheUniversity of Creteis the leading higher education institution on the island of Crete. The University was established in 1973 and operates under the supervision of the State. The seat of the University is in, with Heraklion hosting the School of Sciences and Engineering and that of Health Sciences.
Visit the central open market in Meidani square and buy mountain herbs, spices and folk natural remedies.
Throughout most of the downtown, it is easy to find cheap tavernas (ταβερνα) offering full meals for under €20 for two people (eating alone in Crete would be a bizarre affair.) A strict budget can be met bu sticking to the supermarkets which provide the usual array of fruits, vegetables and cheese for modest prices (€5/day is quite feasible.) Definitely don't feel the need to avoid the downtown cafes, who will offer the locaal breakfast treat 'bougatsa', a local pastry woth cottage cheese, served with honey, or cinnamon and sugar. Also available are the usual complement of pastry shops for standard meals such as spanakopita (spinach pie) and various cheap deserts.
Heraklion Sailing Club(Greek:IstioploikosorΙστιοπλοϊκός)Heraklion Harbour, GR-71262 Heraklion.Tel: 0030 2810 22 8118Classic seafood restaurant facing the Venetian Castle, beloved by Heraklion's locals. Specialities include charcoal grilled fish, seafood salads, clams, and the award winning mussel risotto. Located in the harbour and opposite the Venezian castle (Koules)in the former premises of the port refrigeration plant, east of the Port Authority. Sailing Club membership is not required for the restaurant.
Pagopieion(Ice-Factory) is a "quirky", very different restaurant and cafe/bar, at St Titus square, by the church. You can sit outside and enjoy the setting, or you might be tempted by the dramatic decor to sit inside. Either way, the food is excellent, the menu different and interesting - Mediterranean with a twist. Good fish too.
Herb's Garden(The Roof Garden of Lato Boutique Hotel) The name has been inspired from the traditional Cretan herbs. Stylish, yet intimate and casual. Offers a spectacular view to Heraklion’s Venetian fortress and Cretan Sea. Opens from early afternoon and serves fresh fish, seasonal salads and fine delicatessens accompanied by local aperitifs like ouzo and raki and a variety of fine wines. Later in the afternoon there is special coffee and tea arrangements, fresh fruit juices, great ice cream, summer cocktails and drinks. For dinner, gustative creations.
Raki,also known as Tsikoudia, is the the trademark of Cretan day and night life, a strong clear drink similar to Grappa in Italy or Orujo in Spain. It is made out of the 'must' of grape skins and twigs after the local production of the white wine. It doesn't taste like aniseed, as opposed to the Turkish raki. Most raki is 80 proof, about the strength of most vodkas, but some are much stronger. It's often served in small glasses after dinner with a plate of fruit or other dessert.
Cretan Wine:Try the distinctive Cretan wine, produced in the island for at least 4000 years. Labels: Sitia, Peza Union. The Cretans themselves drink so called 'open' wine, straight out of the barrel, like fresh white wine, and the sometimes very old dark rusty red wine, a bit like port. Typical Cretan wine varieties are Marouvas and Kotsifali (both red wines).