Started around 1900 BC. this wonderful site is a great walk around. Plan on two hours minimum, bring water.
It was excavated in 1900 using methods used at that time. You will see quite a bit of cement used in renovation. However, there are some murals, large vases and the foundation of the city. You will be able to easily imagine what once was. There is a walkway that leads you around and through the area. You will see it from all sides. I have tried to use photos that show close up and more distant shots to give you an idea of the site.
Outside the park there are the usual souvenir stands and restaurants.
We were able to bargain with the shop keepers and got some lower prices than we had found in the city.
There are many guides that will hassle you at the entrance, and I thought they were quite expensive. You can buy many various guide books at the ticket booth.
Built by the Venetians in 1565 it was later covered with debris and recently was discovered and restored. It is very near the National Museum.
It is part of the walls built to protect the city from foreign invasion, in particular the Venetians conscripted citizens to work on the walls in order to stop the oncoming Turkish invasion. The death rate of the Turks was about 3 to 1, and the call of the citizens when the Nazi were coming was, "Come and fight us, These stone walls have seen more blood than you’ll ever know!"
You can visit this museum in less than 2 hours total. Even though much of the treasures dug up by archaeologists have been taken to Athens, there are still some nice things here. Of note is a disk with writing that has never been understood, wonderfully crafted jewelry of gold, paintings from walls removed to the museum. There are weapons of bronze, metal work and stone carvings. You will see a lot of Minoan antiquity.
The first photo shows an aulos player, a double reed instrument important to Minoans and special to see preserved.
The museum has been under renovation for some time, but we were told that the new addition should be open soon, and that will be a real plus. They also have Roman items, too.
If you are in Heraklion, this should be on the top of your to do list.
The ticket package is also good for the Knossos Archaeological Site.
Full: 4 Euros, Reduced: 2 Euros
Special ticket package*: Full: 10 Euros, Reduced: 5 Euros
One of the oldest gastronomic institutions in Greece, the kafenion is a product of the Ottoman occupation, the original coffee shop. You will see them everywhere, and you may wonder why they exist. Their decor is essentially non-existent. Traditionally kafenia serve Greek coffee and little else, and traditionally only men above a certain age patronise them. They are full of tobacco smoke and yet they, the men and the kafenia, refuse to die. This is because they are undemanding places. One may go to the kafenion and play checkers with friends, or simply sit alone with one’s thoughts. You can strike up a conversation, or be left alone. Nowadays you may have beer or ouzo, as well as gritty Greek coffee. Women may go to the kafenion. They always could. There was never any law prohibiting it, but in the past women simply would not care to be seen there. Women are seen in them nowadays, however, chatting, smoking, having a cuppa. Whether or not they are welcome is often another question. The kafenion is so undemanding, so relaxed, that it is an island of respite in an increasingly demanding world.
One of the most common food vendors you will see in Greece is the pie shop, selling such favorites as tiropita (cheese pie) and spanakopita (spinach pie). No matter where a Greek works there will be a pie shop nearby, and here the hungry commuter may pop in for a nibble to take on the way to work. Pie shops are everywhere. You can’t get away from them. If you love pies you’ll be in heaven. In every city in Greece at any time of day or night you’ll see people walking down the street eating pies. Even if you don’t see them you can find them as the filo dough used to make most pies is so flaky that all pie eaters leave flurries of flakes in their wakes.
I was particularly blessed when I lived on Crete because my landlady also owned a bakery, so, when I went to pay my rent each month, I often ended taking home as many pies and other delightful Cretan baked goods as I could carry. Sometimes it even seemed as if I carried home more delectables than the value of my rent. Thank you Kyria Nerantzouli!!!
Unfortunately for me, when I returned in 2004, my house had been replaced by a posh, fenced resort and her bakery had been supplanted by a Marks & Spencer store. So much for the good old days!!
25th August Street, which is now a paved, pedestrianised street and home to many neoclassical buildings, is the main street which connects the small Venetian harbour with Lion Square.
Its name has a special meaning for the Greeks. It comes from the massacre of ‘martyrs' which occurred on 25th August in 1898 where 17 British soldiers, the newly arrived British Consul as well as hundreds of Cretans were killed by the Turks. The British reacted and the ringleaders of the massacre were captured and thrown out of the city. The British fleet sailed into Heraklion and forced the Ottoman army to leave Crete immediately. By the first week of November the last Turkish soldier had left the island - the ruins were still smoking from the massacre when the Turks sacrificed and lost. Crete was free for the first time in thousands of years.
Nowadays the visitor will find cafes, souvenir shops, jewellery shops, banks (with ATMs), travel agencies and even a couple of fish spas where you can have a relaxing fish foot message!
A former Venetian City Hall in the centre of Heraklion, it was an official meeting place of nobility for discussions on politics,the economy and religion.It was also used for a place of social gathering to pass the time a combination of a chamber and a gentlemen's club.The building we see today or 'Loggia'as it was called is the fourth one to have been built,the others being abandoned due to their position,or made obsolete by time.
Is situated in the centre of the city in Venizelou square.Inaugerated by the Venetian administator Fransesco Morozini.Water issues from spouts in the mouths of four Lion's,dating from the 14th century the eight troughs of the fountain are decorated with scenes from Greek Mythology.Unfortunately the troughs were being restored and not on display when we visited Crete,hope the picture gives you some idea though.
This church is one of the most important buildings in the centre of the city,it is set in a lovely square with cafe's and bars.
In 961,Nicephorus Phocas drove the Arabs from Crete,bringing the island back under the wing of the powerful Byzantine Empire.This is when the first Orthodox church of St.Titus must of been built,to rekindle the Christian faith and tradition in Crete,which had declined to the corsair conquest of the island.Saint titus was a deciple of the apostle Paul and the first Bishop of Crete.The first church dedicated to him was that in the old capital Gortyn,which also housed the metropolitan see of the island until its destruction by earthquake and the Arab transfer of the capital to Heraklion in 828A.D.Modifications were done to the church by the islanders in 1925.
On the Western Pier of Heraklion harbour is a formidible Venetian Fortress with the today name Koules.During Venetian rule it was known as Ricca a mare or Castello a mare,meaning fort of the seas.The name that finally prevailed is Koules from the Turkish name 'Su Kulesi'but was built by the Venetians.In the first years of Venetian rule it served to protect the harbour and city which was of great startegic importance in the region.The initial edifice was low,got destroyed by an earthquake in 1303 and repaired.
The fort is the shape of a square.The structure of which consists of strong thick walls.The width of the three sides of the exterior walls at ground level are up to 8.70m thick and the other side 6.9m thick.The roof of the ground floor is vaulted where large air vents and light wells have been contructed leading up to the dome.Over the passing years Koules became the trademark of Heraklion.
Open tues till thur 8.30am-7pm,Admission price is 2 Euros.
The Palace at Knossos is the second most popular tourist site in all of Greece (Second only to the Acropolis), so please do not visit Crete without allowing several hours for Knossos and the Archeological Musuem of Heraklion. But, be advised before you go that it will become very difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. It is very obvious that an ancient, yet remarkably advanced, civilization was located here. Both archeologists and students of mythology throng to Knossos to research and envision what must have, or just may have happened here.
King Minos is common to both fact (?) and myth so let's start with him. He was ruler of the Minoan civilization and built a labyrinth, which most obviously did exist, as parts of it have been unearthed and other parts built around the theories of the archeologists. According to Greek mythology, there was a monstrous beast with the head of a bull and the body of a man which lived in this Minoan labyrinth. This beast is known as the Minotaur.
The tourist's freedom to wander is a bit less now than when I lived on Crete but I spent many hours wandering through the labyrinth and climbing the walls of Knossos and dearly loved every one of them.
There will always be excavation and/or construction at the Palace of Knossos but I would always expect parts of it to be accessible. The Archeological Museum of Iraklion is long overdue for renovation, and that is being done at present, but it is still worthy of a few hours, even if it is only partially available.
The area around the original palace at Knossos was a metropolitan city in virtually every way: political, social, mercantile, etc. At least one of the more prominent archeologists to explore the Minoan civilization argues that it had a much more prominent feminine influence than most early civilizations did.
From their web site, listed below: "Knossos is the site of the most important and better known palace of Minoan civilization. According to tradition, it was the seat of the legendary king Minos. The Palace is also connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Icaros. The site was continuously inhabited from the Neolithic period (7000-3000 B.C.) until Roman times. The Linear B tablets (Mycenaean script) of the 14th century B.C. mention the city as ko-no-so."
I had learned about this place in high school, so had always wanted to visit it. I was not disappointed; the site is in incredible shape and there was much to see. It's also in a beautiful setting with great views over the countryside. There were guides at the main entrance available, so we hired one. She was extremely knowledgeable and we learned a few more things. We saw the ancient plumbing system in place, thousands of years before the rest of Europe.
Built around 1900 BC, the original Palace of Knossos was destroyed by an earthquake in about 1700 BC but was soon rebuilt. In its time it was the capital of Minoan Crete and was the largest of the island's palaces with over 1000 rooms, elaborate drainage systems, flushing toilets, and paved roads.
Today what visitors see is a sprawling set of ruins, much of it restored by Sir Arthur Evans between 1900 and 1929. Keep in mind as you walk around that what you're seeing is Evans's interpretation of what the palace may have looked like, so it's hard to say how accurate the restored structures really are.
In addition to seeing Knossos, be sure to visit Heraklion's archeological museum, where artifacts from Knossos and other Minoan settlements are displayed.
We usually spend quite a bit of time just walking, not visting specific tourist sites, but just taking a stroll, maybe following the crowds to see where they are going, or maybe taking a right turn onto a smaller alley or AWAY from the noisey and crowded streets. Whatever our choice may be we always enjoy seeing the "small" things.
The most important Greek writer and the most eminent son of Crete, has his own museum, in his homeland.
"My father's stock", writes Kazantzakis in Report to Greco, "hails from a village called Varvari, two hours from Megalo Kastro".Now known as Myrtia, fifteen kilometres from Heraklion, that same village is home to the Nikos Kazantzakis Museum, one of the first museums in Greece dedicated to a personality.
The museum was inaugurated on 27th June 1983 by Melina Mercouri, Culture Minister at the time.The Museum was renovated from the ground up in 2008.
The visitors have the unique opportunity to familiarize themselves with the author's personality through his letters and diaries, his personal effects and mementoes from his travels, rarely seen photographs and many more.