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Heraklion Description


The Municipality of Heraklion belongs in the Prefecture of Crete, is the Capital of the island Crete, in the centre of the northern coast and consists of the union of other 4 Municipalities Heraklion, Temenous, Neas Alikarnassou and Gorgolaini αccording to the Programme “Kallikraths”.

It’s population is 150,000 residents (137,711 according to the 2001 census) and it’s surface about 120 sqm. The municipality has the historical center in Nea Alikarnassos.

Heraklion is the capital of Crete and one of the Mediterranean region's most fascinating and vibrant cities. It is full of places to discover.  With the current efforts to open up the wonderful medieval city centre, it speaks to us of a past full of history and great events that reflect its location at the crossroads of three continents.

The city is the commercial and technological centre of the island. It has a strategic geopolitical position in the south-eastern Mediterranean Sea connecting three continents and many different cultures.

Heraklion is the largest urban centre in Crete with approximately 150,000 people, the capital of the region and the economic centre of the island. The town enjoys of a dynamic and imaginative combination of natural beauty climate, strategic position, cultural heritage and scientific background and supports the broader entrepreneurial activity in the region and stimulates the local economy.  Heraklion today is living between the fast moving currents of regeneration and a deep desire to maintain links with a past. In the last hundred years alone, we have seen huge changes, which can be quite easily followed, in buildings and streets that reflect the changing fortunes of Crete. The ‘old town' areas of the city, established from mediaeval times, now offer visitors some fantastic walks in the heart of the city.

If you begin a walk around Heraklion, starting at the fishing harbour close to the modern port, what will strike you first is the Venetian fortress at the harbour gate. The fortress was originally built by the Venetians and called Rocca al Mare, but is now known by its Turkish name, Koules. It has a mixed history; for centuries it was used as protection against invaders, as were the great city walls and ditches. These are among the longest city walls in Europe.

With its huge dark hallways and cells, the fortress was also a prison to many Cretan rebels and those who broke the rules imposed by successive occupiers of Crete. Koules is built on two tiers and offers a commanding view of Heraklion from the battlements. Nowadays, the harbour itself is home to brightly coloured fishing boats and busy tavernas selling fresh fish.

Looking back towards the city you will see the strong arches which housed boats under repair and were used as an arsenal for storing guns and gunpowder. The greatest threat to the Venetian stronghold of Heraklion, or Candia, as it was named, was thought to come from the seaward side of the city, and indeed, many naval skirmishes were fought off this coast. The view northward takes in the uninhabited island of Dia, where evidence of ancient Minoan settlement (approx 2700-1450 BC) was found by the diver, Jacques Cousteau. Boat trips can be booked from travel shops throughout central Heraklion, as can excursions to various places of interest.


History: Birthplace of the first European civilization; the Minoan period beginning around 3000 BC, with its capital at Knossos.

Economy: Key sectors are Tourism, Agriculture and Trade.

Crops: Olive trees, vines, oranges, legumes.

Diet: Cretan foods with olive oil, legumes, vegetables, fruits, wine.

Flora: Unique aromatic plants.

Museums: Archaeological Museum , Historical Museum , Natural History Museum , Museum Of Battle of Crete .

Academic Institutions: University of Crete , Faculty of Medicine, Technological InstitutionFoundation of Research and Technology (FORTH), Technological Park (STEPc).

Airport: Second International Airport of Greece, first in charter flights. 

Harbour: Important passenger, commercial and cruise. 

Hotels: Numerous of luxury, A', B' and C' category Hotels and rented rooms. 

Information: National Tourism Organization .

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