he northern part of the Prefecture of Herakleio consists of attractive resorts, very well organized with luxurious hotel- units, ready to satisfy the demanding visitor. Around Herakleio there are fine beaches which are accessible by town bus.
|Using urban transport, it is possible to reach the beaches of Lintos (2 km), Ammoudara (5 km), Linoperamata (7 km), Nea Alikarnassos (3 km), Amnisos (7 km) and Karterou (8 km).|
urther down, is the excellent beach of Kokkino Chani (13 km), the attractive beach of Gournes (15 km), and the sandy beach of Kato Gouves or Finikas (20 km ).
Always to the east side, in about 26 km from Herakleio we reach the most organized tourist resorts with abundant night life:
|The harbor of Chersonisos(26 km), the pretty cove of Stalida (32 km) and the modern town Mallia (34 km). Leaving the city of Herakleio along the national road for Chania and in about a distance of 21 km, a turning to the right leads us to the picturesque village of Fodele. According to a story, Fodele was the birthplace of the world famous painter Domenico Theotokopoulos (El Creco), who lived and made his name at Toledo in Spain. His art was considerably influenced by the Cretan school of icon- painting. After some 8 km from Fodele, we turn off this road and head down to the left, towards the coastal village of Ayia Pelagia.|
he harbor of Chersonisos takes its name from the peninsula ('chersonisos') on which it stands and which creates two sheltered little sandy bays. Today, has developed into a well- organized tourist resort with a lively night- life.
|To the south of the harbor, not far away, is the village of Chersonisos in a verdant setting. The village remains the picturesque traditional settlement it has always been, indifferent to the hum and bustle of the harbor.|
o the west of the village stood the ancient city of Chersonisos, which was the port of ancient Lyttos. It was inhabited in prehistoric times, as can been seen from the traces of a Minoan settlement; it was autonomous, and minted its own coins, which showed the head of Artemis on one side and Apollo with a lyre on the other. It is believed that the first settlers were refugees from tyranny who brought with them the cult statue of Britomartis.
|Britomartis, or so-called 'the sweet virgin', was a Minon deity, one of the most important in the Minoan pantheon. Later she became identified with Artemis.|
oday, there are the ruins of an acropolis, an amphitheater and a theatre, an old harbor and a fountain with mosaics showing fishermen. The foundations of two Early Christian basilicas have also come to light, with mosaic floors whose tesseras are arranged in geometric shapes.
In the bay of Chersonisos there is a isolated rock whose shape is reminiscent of a female body upright out of the sea and holding a basin on its head. The locals call the rock "the girl", and if asked have numerous tales to tell about it.
n a distance of 32 km from Herakleio we meet the pretty cove of Stalida. This is an attractive tourist resort with abundant greenery and market gardens.
There is an excellent beach with fine, white sand that promises to offer you some unique moments of refreshment. From Stalida a side-road to the right climbs up through dense olive groves to Mochos, a picturesque village which stands at an altitude of 400 meters and has a panoramic view over Mallia Bay
allia is a modern town, in a fertile area well supplied with water and noted for its market produce and windmills. It has its own beach, with fine, white sand; one of Crete's finest.
The pretty old village lies to the west of the main road, guarding its traditions; tourism has hardly touched it.
The archaeological site lies approximately 3 km to the east of the town.
his was the site of an important Minoan town whose ancient name is unknown to us. The most important discovery was the city palace, which occupied an area of 8,000 square meters and dates from the same time as the palace of Knossos.
The Palace of Mallia is the third most important Minoan palace after Knossos and Fhaistos.
|It was built like the other Minoan palaces, around 1900 BC, destroyed around 1700 BC and then built again more brilliant than before only to be finally abandoned in 1450 BC after a new calamity.|
he coastal village of Ayia Pelagia is a tourist village which stretches along the shores of an attractive sheltered bay where the northerly winds of summer do not penetrate.
A long beach with enticing yellow sand -which becomes coarser and white in some places - and little white pebbles accounts for the area's importance as a resort.
Ayia Pelagia and the little cove of Lygaria which lies about one kilometer away constitute a most attractive unit.
Ayia Pelagia takes its name from the church of St Pelagia which stood about 1 km. to the west of the bay and was a dependency of the Savvathianon Convent.
|This, according to the archaeologists, was the site of ancient Apollonia. At the spot known as Kladotos, recent digs have yielded both Minoan and Hellenistic finds. Chamber tombs of the Late Minoan period, hewn out of the rock, have also come to light. However, the main find was the Prytaneion, headquarters of the elders of the town, which was built in the 4th century BC and destroyed in the 2nd century.|
Photos and text taken from "Crete - today and yesterday"
and "Crete - A tour of all the towns and villages"
Knossos and Phaestos
Museum of Herakleion