erakleio is the capital of the Prefecture of the same name and, since 1972, of the whole of Crete.
It is the island's largest city, with a population in excess of 110,000 and the economic focal point as well, with extensive commercial and industrial sectors.
housands of visitors arrive each year at its harbor and at Herakleio airport, which is the island's largest. As the ship sails into the harbor, the impressive Venetian fortress is the first acquaintance of the visitor. Its rooms were used for storing foodstuffs and military supplies.
It was first erected in the13th century, but in 1303 it was destroyed by earthquake.
The building we see today is that erected in 1523 - 1540.
he city itself consists of two parts: the new town, with its modern shops, and busy squares, and the old town, with its Venetian fountains, the Loggia, its markets and its alleys: the present and the past. Herakleio expresses Crete's uncanny ability to blend the old with the new.
|The town's center is the Elefteriou Venizelou Square. In Venetian times this was the centre of the city, and even today it is a meeting place and the heart of Herakleio. In the center of the square is the Morosini Fountain, or 'the Lions', as the local people call it. The fountain was built in 1628 by Francesco Morosini, Governed of the island.|
ear there is the Basilica of Ayios Markos, built in 1239, and the Loggia.
The Venetian Loggia, a building in the Italian Renaissance style initially erected in 1623- 1628 and was used as a club for the Venetian nobility. Today it houses Herakleio Town Hall.
|Directly behind the Loggia is the Byzantine church of Saint Titus. The relics of St. Titus, who is the patron saint of Crete, are kept inside.|
nother sight in Herakleio is the Cathedral of St. Minas (1862- 1895), the largest church on Crete. Inside are six icons by the great Cretan icon- painter Michail Damaskinos, who lived in the 16th century and was among the teachers of El Greco (D. Theotokopoulos).
he town of Herakleio is surrounded by the famous Venetian Walls, work on the construction of which began in 1462, protect the city on three sides. The thickness of the walls is as much as 60 meters in some places, and the moat, was between 20 and 60 meters broad. The top of the walls can be reached only by the staircase leading up to the Martinengo Bastion. The view over Herakleio is panoramic.
|Here, too, is the tomb of the famous author Nikos Kazantzakis, a square monument of large stones with a roof and a wooden cross. The simple, white plaque bears the words : “I have no hopes and no fears, I am free”.|
Photos and text taken from "Crete - today and yesterday"
and "Crete - A tour of all the towns and villages"
Knossos and Phaestos