Heraklion, (http://www.heraklion-city.gr/en) in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, is one of the most fascinating and interesting cities, full of places to discover. The mediaeval city centre, speaks to us of a past full of history and great events that reflect its location at the crossroads of three continents. The city offers a wealth of museums, a summer-long arts festival, historical sightseeing, amazing nightlife and events throughout the year.
25th of August Street
The car free 25 August St. is directly opposite the Old Harbour and extends to Lion Square. Old and modern buildings compete for space.
A little further in the same street and you discover the Venetian architecture of the Loggia which functioned as a club for the nobility to gather and relax. The Loggia is a wonderful example of Venetian building and it was built in the 16th century.
St. Mark's Basilica, almost next door, is now the Municipal Art Gallery and often host to art and crafts exhibitions, almost always open to visit. Built in 1239 in the Piazza delle Biade (Square of Blades), it was at one time the Cathedral of Crete.
This is the heart of Heraklion where tourists and locals share the small space around the fountain, exchanging glances and perhaps a few words. The decorated fountain is decorated with stone relief, depicting figures of Greek mythology, Nymphs, Tritons, sea monsters and dolphins, while the main basin is supported by four sitting lions balancing a circular bowl on their heads.
Walk slowly through the Agora, the Market Street that runs alongside a shopping boulevard called 1866, after a Cretan uprising. It's a good place to find thyme honey, raki (the Cretan clear spirit) from among shops selling everything from selections of Cretan music to the finest cheese.
Agios Minas Cathedral
You will find plenty of life around the wide space in front of the cathedral, dedicated to the Patron Saint of Heraklion and one of Greece's largest churches, completed in a cruciform shape with twin towers. The square also contains the Basilica of Agia Ekaterini, (Saint Katherine) built in 1555 and the site of a renowned school of Renaissance painters and writers in the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Plateia Eleftherias (Freedom Square)
The spacious Plateia Eleftherias is worth exploring, built in a crescent shape alongside the Archaeological Museum and close to Heraklion's municipal buildings and the main foreign Consulates. On the seaward side of the square is the entrance to St. George's Gate, used from Venetian times as a passage between the city and its port, the entrance is down stone steps, leading to an atmospheric dome-roofed chamber and the lower exit.
Pride of place goes to the treasures of the earliest European civilization, the Minoan, which can here be admired in all its historical continuity.
Historical Museum is dedicated to bringing 2000 years of history to life. It houses important examples of early Christian artifacts, stonework and decorative objects of Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish origin.
The City Walls
Heraklion is surrounded by a formidable medieval wall, which was used to protect it from enemies. Owing to this, the city enjoyed the reputation as a great castle in the Mediterranean Sea. It is possible to walk along the top of these walls and enjoy a view over the city. You may reach the Grave of the Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), where it is written: "I hope for nothing, I fear nothing; I am free".
The Minoan palace is the main site of interest at Knossos, an important city in antiquity, which was inhabited continuously from the Neolithic period until the 5th c. AD. According to tradition, it was the seat of the wise king Minos. The Palace of Knossos is connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth, with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Ikaros.